As January draws to an end, many people are wondering if they can keep up with those ambitious New Year’s resolutions they set; a common one is to lose weight. Unfortunately when people set weight loss goals they aren’t realistic about the results they are going to see in retrospect to the changes they are going to make. It is easy to set ambitious unrealistic targets, and then feel disappointment when they are not achieved.
There are a ton of fad diets, gimmicks and ‘guaranteed’ quick fixes that will have you shedding pounds quicker than you can imagine. It is important to ask yourself some simple questions before diving into one of these: Is it safe? Is it realistic? Will I maintain my weight loss? There are a number of red flags as per Dietitians of Canada that you can watch for when choosing a weight management or weight loss program.
1. Programs that make promises about fast weight loss – more than 2 lbs per week
2. Programs that make you dependent on their company by selling you products such as food or supplements rather than educating you’re about making healthier food choices from a regular grocery store.
3. Programs that do not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and health.
4. Does not explain the risks that go along with weight loss or their specific programs (ex: if you have diabetes and are taking prescription medication, it may affect you differently after losing weight)
5. Promotes any type of ‘weight loss aid’ such as a starch blocker, fat burner, herbs, supplements or amino acids that have not been scientifically proven to have any health benefits. Talk to a dietitian or other health professional to verify this information.
6. Does not offer support or follow up to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Losing weight is not simple. If it was simple it would not be a million dollar industry that is continuing to grow. However, weight loss is individual. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it is going to work for you. Your weight loss program needs to fit your lifestyle in order to be successful.
The Power of Tracking – tracking your intake is a very powerful tool. It doesn’t mean you have to count calories for the rest of your life. However, seeing what you are actually eating on paper on the computer and what is actually making up your foods can help you target some specific areas to focus on. Reviewing them with an educated professional such as a registered dietitian will give you even more insight. They have the knowledge about what you should be consuming and can review your current way of eating. Changes to your current way of eating can be suggested, education about how to track your portion sizes and meet your weight loss goals; and offer additional resources that you can visit.
When Do You Eat? – While the foods you choose can without a doubt affect your weight and ability to lose weight the frequency you are eating is also important. Eating frequently throughout the day can help prevent you from overeating at your meal time. Also choosing foods that fill you up – protein and fibre – help to reduce the urge to reach for those tempting snacks.
Cut It Out – There are several ‘diets’ that focus on completely eliminating nutrients or food groups as a weight loss method. This is not appropriate. Our bodies need carbohydrates, protein, and fats for different reasons and in different quantities to function properly. You should never completely cut out one of these unless you have been advised by a professional to ensure that this it is not going to result in any adverse health effects. Similarly cutting out food groups such as dairy or grains has been used as a method of weight loss. Unless you have an allergy or are under the advisement of a professional it is not necessary to completely eliminate a nutrient or food group.
Losing weight can be achieved by eating a variety of wholesome healthy foods. Staying active is important to keep your body healthy and accompanying that with eating a balanced diet can result in weight loss. Tracking and looking at your food intake under the magnifying glass with a registered dietitian, can help you identify some areas of improvement. Make sure you set realistic goals with small milestones to keep you motivated throughout your weight loss journey. A slow weight loss progression is healthy and being healthy is the most important thing to keep in mind.
Written by: Brianne Littlewood