APPETITE—Supports a Moderate Appetite and Promotes Healthy Weight Management
The secret to weight loss is this: There is no secret. Eliminating carbs or fats (both essential macronutrients), glycemic indexes, “miracle” pills and appetite-suppressing beverages all rise and fall in popularity. Monthly, the diet du jour is replaced with an even newer fad, feeding the multi-billion dollar weight-loss industry. However, the majority of dieters fail to lose weight, or those that do lose, tend to regain the weight within two years.
This does not mean achieving a healthy weight is a hopeless cause. It can be done, but to lose weight, you must understand the physical and psychological forces that shape your body.
What is your ideal weight?
For most of the last century, people consulted insurance company-generated height and weight charts to determine their ideal weight. Actuaries compared the height and weight measures of their policyholders to their longevity data. This produced “ideal” weight numbers. These charts failed to consider that excess fat, not weight, creates health problems.
Over the past decade, it has become more common to use Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine an individual’s amount of excess fat. BMI calculators are not perfect. They do not take into consideration the ratio of lean muscle weight to body fat. Highly fit athletes may have a high BMI. This doesn’t mean they are carrying excess fat. BMI calculators are useful, and can give you a weight range to shoot for, but other measures, such as waist-to-height ratio, may be more telling.
A calorie is a calorie whether is comes from a potato chip or a peach. For every 3,500 calories you consume above what your body expends, you will gain one pound. To lose one pound a week, you need to consume 500 calories a day less than you burn. You could, theoretically, lose weight on a diet of doughnuts, but you would be consuming too much fat, too much sugar, no fiber and robbing your body of essential nutrients. You would be hungry (at 260 calories a doughnut, you could only eat five or six a day on this diet) and exhausted from a continual cycle of sugar highs and lows.
To maintain energy, get the nutrients your body needs to function, and feel satisfied, you need to plan your meals around nutrient-dense foods. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry, seafood and whole grains will satisfy your appetite without providing excessive calories.
How many calories does your body burn each day? The number is different for everyone. It depends on your body size, your gender, your age, your muscle-to-fat ratio and your activity level. To get a general idea, plug your personal info into a Calorie Calculator . This will calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (the number of calories your body burns to function while at rest ) and adjust for your level of activity. You may want to keep a log of all the calories you consume and note fluctuations in your weight. This will give you a personalized look at how your body uses energy.
After you’ve done the math and calculated your daily calorie allotment, you can create meal plans with tools provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, losing weight requires more than a good meal plan. You need to break unhealthy eating habits that can return when your resolve begins to wane.
Retrain your brain to break old habits
You have a limited store of willpower. You may start the day strong, but as you resist temptation after temptation, your resolve will weaken. Cravings are a conditioned response. Just the sight and aroma of food can sidetrack your best intentions. Be a friend to yourself and get rid of anything that will drain your store of willpower. Throw out that leftover Christmas candy; change your route to work so you don’t drive by your favorite bakery.
Avoid or cut down on activities you connect to food. For example, if you are in the habit of snacking while watching TV, cut down on TV time or keep your hands busy with knitting needles or some other project. Make healthy, low-calorie foods readily available. Prepare vegetables ahead of time for snacking; Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. Pre-plan all your meals so you do not continually have to make food choices. It will take a couple weeks, but as you change the way you eat, the neuropathways in your brain will change to reinforce your new habits.
Eating healthy and losing weight isn’t about deprivation. It’s about making good choices. When you find yourself reaching for something to eat, stop and ask yourself if you really are hungry. You may just be eating to relieve boredom or stress. Slow down when you eat and note the taste and texture of each bite. Keep a journal, and every day make a list of the behaviors you are trying to change. This simple act will reinforce your resolve and give you strength to make positive changes in your life.