In the United States, dieting is a way of life. Almost 75% of adults are either trying to lose weight or keep weight off. We often buy books promising that if we lower our carbohydrates, increase our proteins, eat grapefruits or some other plan, we will succeed. Unfortunately, the results of these diets just don’t stick. If we lose weight with these plans, several months or years later, 95% of us gain the weight back. Sometimes we gain extra pounds and get frustrated.
The problem of increased weight is reflected in the following: an estimated 61 percent of adults in the U.S are either overweight or obese. Why don’t these diets work and what can we do to succeed?
The Quick Fix Approach: Most diets offer a quick fix to losing weight. They are temporary and so are the results. Many times, we restrict our calorie intake and cut out one or two food groups to get our calories low enough to lose weight. When the diet ends, we go back to eating foods that helped us gain weight. This “quick fix” approach often ends in increased weight and discouragement.
Unrealistic Expectations: Many magazine covers display pictures of people with extra-slim figures and promises of how we can achieve the same waistline. In a daze we’ll pick up the magazine, cut out the diet and tape it to our refrigerators. We follow the diet closely but a few months later, we have not achieved half the weight loss promised. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and sometimes, weight gain.
The Hormone Factor: Not too long ago, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that when we restrict our calories to lose weight, a hormone in the stomach called ghrelin, may increase. Along with this increase, is an insatiable appetite and a desire to eat more food. Researchers are still learning about this hormone and what we can do to counteract this yo-yo affect in our weight.
Clapping with One Hand: Trying to maintain a healthy weight without aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, etc.) is just as effective as trying to clap with one hand. Many diets do not include a regular exercise program. Maintaining a healthy weight, healthy muscles, and an overall healthy body require that we engage in activity that helps us to use the stored calories in our bodies.
Ideas to Succeed
Choose Realistic Lifestyle Goals: A start to changing lifestyle might be to cut down on the amount of oil, butter, and margarine used in foods. Another idea may be to walk for 30 minutes during the lunch hour. The idea is to choose goals we know we can achieve.
Choose Healthy Foods: Experiment with fruits and vegetables and add the favorites to meals or snacks. Eat them often and reduce processed and fast foods. One hamburger can have over 1,000 calories and one of those large muffins can have as much as 800 calories.
Pray: We often forget that God is here to help us in our everyday struggles – even the small ones that no one else knows about. Pray about every aspect of the war on weight. We should not leave one aspect of our struggle in our hands, rather we can request help to overcome. God promises to help us.
These are only a few ideas to help in the process of achieving optimal health. The bottom line is to incorporate activities and eating habits that you know you can follow and let temporary diets become part of the past.
1. N/A. Obesity Trends. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/epidemic.htm. Sited August 21, 2002
2. N/A. A Public Health Epidemic. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/epidemic.htm. Sited August 21, 2002
3. Cummings DE, Weigle DS, Frayo RS, et al. Plasma Ghrelin levels after diet-induced weight loss or gastric bypass surgery. NEJM. 2002;346(21):1623-1630.