Goals to eat better, lose weight should be reasonable and realistic

January 2, 2013 9:11:42 AM

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As 2013 begins, many will make resolutions to eat better and lose weight. Mississippi University for Women assistant professor of nutrition Amanda Dahl, RD, LD, offers some tips for weight loss the healthy way. 

 

Dahl advises that those steps should include small, reasonable changes with realistic measurable weigh loss goals. 

 

"Don't fall prey to diet fads and advertising ploys that promise quick weight loss in a short period of time. If a diet plan seems too good to be true, it probably is," she said. "Following a healthy eating plan while being physically active is the best way to achieve weight loss." 

 

Dahl explained that the basis of weight maintenance is to balance the calories coming in (calories consumed) with calories going out (calories expended through physical activity). 

 

"If you are trying to lose weight, you need to try and create a calorie deficit by expending more calories than you are consuming. 

 

 

 

Do the math 

 

"There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, so if you decrease your calorie intake by 500 calories a day for seven days, you should expect to see a one pound weight loss (500x7=3500)," Dahl explained. 

 

Reducing your caloric intake while increasing your physical activity level is the most effective way to achieve the calorie deficit, resulting in weight loss," she added. 

 

Websites such as Choosemyplate.gov are helpful. They have tools that will calculate the number of calories an individual needs a day, to either maintain or lose weight. Dahl also noted keeping a food diary to keep track of foods being eaten and to point out any negative food behaviors such as skipping meals, late night snacking, etc.  

 

The Choose My Plate website also has an online nutritional analysis tool, called Super Tracker, which allows participants to input their daily intake and will calculate the nutritional analysis for them. 

 

Dahl also stressed the importance of eating whole grains, which contain fiber and help you feel full longer, lean protein, low fat dairy and plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

 

"Avoid consuming empty calories, such as soft drinks and other sweetened beverages and alcohol, which are high on calories but provide virtually no nutritional value," she said. 

 

 

 

Get real 

 

Dahl said setting weight loss goals is an important process in losing weight, but the goals should be realistic and measurable. 

 

"Often times we set ourselves up for failure before we even begin because we are expecting to lose an excessive amount of weight in an unreasonable amount of time," she said. "A reasonable weight loss goal is half to two pounds a week or 10 percent reduction in weight in a six-month period." 

 

Dahl said set small weekly goals and write them down. "Once you have achieved that goal, you will feel empowered by your success and will be more likely to carry over that feeling into meeting your next goal." 

 

Finally, she said try not to use food as a reward for your success. "Instead, treat yourself to a manicure, movie date with your spouse or a bubble bath. Always remember to never beat yourself up if you 'fall off the wagon.' Every day is a new day."