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31/01/2012 14:18:35
New Year, New Diet? Here’s what you need to know about dieting!
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It is a New Year and most of us can relate to this; you wake up to realize your favourite pair of jeans is a size or two too small. You panic. It’s probably been weeks, if not months since you last weighed yourself, and you know that the extra treats and heavy holiday meals you have had have finally caught up with your waistline; you then decide you are on a “diet”.

For breakfast you decide to pass on the bagel or donut; instead you have a cup of black coffee or tea and off you go with your day. At lunch you have a salad with lettuce, tomatoes and fat-free dressing since you are on a “diet”. As the day comes to an end you are starved and irritable.

Most likely one of two things will happen; you decide this “diet” idea is silly and that you do not need it after all, and eat a candy bar and a bag of chips before you can stop yourself. Or you may feel that dieting on your own is too hard, so you stop at the drugstore for some “diet miracle” remedy. Needless to say, later you realize yet another attempt at losing weight failed, and the cycle starts again.

I assure you; you are not alone. The diet industry is a $60 billion industry. Why? Because it does not work! 95% of dieters do not manage to lose the weight and keep it off. If you are looking for a quick fix, fad diet or a magic weight loss pill, stop now; such a miracle does not exist.

For starters, calorie restricting may be the very reason why you cannot seem to shed those unwanted pounds. It triggers your body into thinking it is in a famine situation. Since the body does not know when the famine will be over, it will conserve energy and protect fat stores by using lean tissue and muscle in order to function. Loss of muscle will in turn lead to a lower metabolic rate and weight loss will slow down, making it even harder for you to shed those unwanted pounds.

Maintaining good health and weight loss does not have to be hard; we need to go back to the basics. Most of your daily nutrition should be from whole nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and some lean protein. Also, ensure you are not neglecting fats and healthy oils; to lose fat you need to eat fat. Consuming two to three tbsp. of healthy oils such as olive oil or flaxseed oil regularly will aid in weight loss as long as the remainder of your diet is balanced. Remember, drink plenty of water; keeping hydrated is not only important for good health but is a big part of weight loss as well; more often than not we mistake thirst for hunger.

I am not going to say you should eat more vegetables and fruits every day because you probably know that already. However I will challenge you to add one serving of fruit or vegetable for your breakfast, morning and afternoon snacks, and add two servings of vegetables for lunch and dinner. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And it is! Instead of focusing on restricting a certain food or food group, I guarantee you will feel better and achieve better results when you concentrate on adding the fruits, vegetables and oils as I suggested.

Lastly, limit or eliminate your consumption of low-fat/ low-calories snacks such as cereal bars for instance. Most of them are packed with sugar, which may only increase your craving for more sugar resulting in overeating. If you have a sweet tooth and must snack, opt for fresh fruits instead.

Excess calorie restricting is not the answer. Focus on whole nutritious foods and remember that in many cases, when weight loss is the goal, we need to add foods in order to lose. Eating five to six smaller nourishing meals throughout the day will help your body feel satisfied and working optimally.

Have fun with your meals and experiment in the kitchen! One of my personal favourite snacks is carrots sticks with hummus. Favourite because not only it’s delicious but it’s also the perfect balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Hope you too enjoy this wonderful recipe!

Yours in Nutrition,
Flávia Roberta Martins Young

Carrots sticks with Hummus

3 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ to ½ cup water (depending on how thick you like your dip)
Juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in food processor or blender until it becomes a paste. Enjoy!
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