According to the World Health Organization (WHO), no other current health threats spread as fast as so-called ‘non-communicable diseases’ (NCDs) like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. What distinguishes these from infectious illnesses is that humans bring them mostly upon themselves through poor diet and lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, the impact is very real and there is no letting up in sight.
Historically, doctors have either neglected the topic of weight management or wagged an admonishing finger. That admonishing finger is useless at best. At worst, it is overtly harmful. Studies have shown that especially among younger women exposure to anti-obesity bias actually fosters unhealthy eating habits in the short term.
As more Americans are getting concerned about their nutritional health, loading up on fruits and vegetables while cutting back on meat products is becoming increasingly popular. These so-called “flexitarians” – not complete vegetarians but discriminating omnivores – are receiving a lot of attention lately from nutrition and health experts who notice the benefits of this rather loose diet prescription.
As a nutritionist, I often hear about my clients’ New Year’s resolutions in early January and how by Valentine’s Day they feel discouraged and fall back into their same old routines. Resolutions such as, “I have to lose weight” or, “I want to eat healthier” are often too broad and therefore do generally not work. What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a whole lot better.
Why do you want to lose weight? For more energy? Improve your health? To fit into your skinny jeans again? Make your ex jealous? Whatever the reason, write it down and post it in a visible place such as your morning mirror. By keeping your goal front and center, you will maintain focus and stay with your new meal plan.
You have heard it all before: Crash diets – the ones that promise you to shed lots of weight in no time – don’t work, at least not in the long run. And yet, they continue to rank among the most popular plans because people want to see results pronto. This year’s resolution season will be no different. Initially pounds will come off, mostly through loss of water, and then they will come back with a vengeance, and in all likelihood even more will be added. It’s a vicious circle that can be devastating.