We are constantly bombarded with information about the latest diet; each new fad claiming this or that is the route to losing weight and being healthy. Weight loss is a booming industry. Yet, the path is simple. Eat healthy and exercise.
“We know what to do,” confirms Suzanne Forsberg, healthy lifestyles dietitian with St. John Medical Center. “Everyone has good intentions and a wealth of knowledge.” But, we don’t apply it, counters Forsberg. It’s important to first recognize the challenge that lays ahead.
“Eating is not a hard decision. Food choices are,” explains Sloan Taylor, clinical dietitian with Saint Francis Health System. “It’s where your will power will show itself.”
Forsberg favors a quote from Dr. Pam Popper, a world-renowned expert on nutrition, concerning the matter: “Successful people have formed the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.”
Where your nutrition is concerned, forming good habits usually means changing bad ones. Taylor advises to start small.
“Aim to eat at least one healthy food at each and every meal,” suggests Taylor. “Once you master that, then increase your healthy choices. Progressive and incremental changes count towards improving your nutrition.”
All the information available can be overwhelming. Forsberg says don’t try to do it all.
“Pick one, two or three things to change,” encourages Forsberg. “I try to help people develop a food philosophy of their own. That is empowering.”
Forsberg offers her three P’s: prayer, plan and post.
Prayer is Forsberg’s method of strength and support; she suggests individuals find their best method, possibly family, friends or a support group.
Planning is an extremely important step, according to Forsberg. “If you don’t plan, you will fail,” she says. When you plan meals and snacks, you don’t have to worry about what you will eat.
“If you have a good plan then you’ll most likely act out your plan,” she explains.
Posting, the least obvious of the three P’s, means putting your plan in writing. “If you don’t write it down, you aren’t serious,” explains Forsberg. “Post dinner in your house; that way, everyone knows and their taste buds get ready.”
Taylor and Forsberg both encourage individuals to make the most of what they do eat.
“The first three bites taste best, so savor them,” says Forsberg. “Slow down and chew your food well.”
“If you slow down and sincerely taste your food, then you will be pleasantly surprised how much less you will eat,” confirms Taylor.
“Jazz up your vegetables,” adds Forsberg. “Make your food colorful and pleasurable.”
Don’t be discouraged by slip-ups. Change is hard.
“One ‘bad’ meal does not wreck a diet, but two or more indulgent meals will lead you down the wrong path,” cautions Taylor. “Every day is another opportunity to do better in terms of food choices.”
“Learn what you can moderately consume,” adds Taylor. “You may simply have to avoid what you can’t eat in moderation.”
And, look beyond food for help.
“Make a list of distractions, things that take about seven minutes,” suggests Forsberg. “Often you can replace your cravings.”
“Know that each right decision has a cumulative effect,” says Taylor. “Remember that delayed gratification is worth it, and results will show themselves if you remain consistent with better and healthy food choices.”
And, results will be more than simply a number on the scale. Daily nutrition will affect you in many different ways.
“Nutrition gives you energy, and nutrients to help your body perform better,” says Forsberg. “You’ll feel better. You won’t have the highs and lows.”
“Your daily intake is important each and every day,” confirms Taylor. “Bone health is directly affected by good nutrition. Skin is affected, energy levels are affected, and even your sleeping pattern can be affected by good nutrition.”