The following tips relate to columns I have written in the past or will write in the future. If you are interested in learning more about any particular topic you can go to my website (www.DietDetective.com), where all the columns are free, or you can go to facebook.com/DietDetective or twitter.com.
- Set a specific health goal. It's good to say, "I want to lose weight," but it's better to say, "I want to lose 15 pounds by June."
- Food diaries are great tools. Carry a small notebook, use a camera phone or download a food diary smartphone app. Studies show that keeping track of what you eat doubles your weight loss.
- Plan ahead for Diet Buster moments. If Friday is Muffin Day at work, always bring in a tasty and healthy substitute on Fridays.
- Don't let your family throw you off track. Set up boundaries for yourself when dining out or eating at home. Keep track of your "difficult" family eating situations and think in advance about how you're going to overcome them.
- Think before you eat. Read the package labels, and never eat anything over 15 calories without thinking about it. Remember, a single potato chip can be 15 calories, and those can add up quickly.
- Try some simple switches. Go from whole milk to skim; from eggs to egg whites; and from soda to water. You might be surprised what a big difference these little things can make.
- Pick the right carbs. The good ones are 100 percent whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The bad ones are white pasta, white rice, candy, cakes and sugary drinks.
- Make sure you pick the right fats. A little avocado or olive oil is good for you, but stay away from saturated and trans fats.
- There's no one diet that fits every person, but try starting with lean meats, especially chicken, lots of fruits and vegetables, and 100 percent whole grains. Try to stay away from products with added sugars.
- Make it automatic. Create new patterns for your life you have to be consistent and do something over and over for up to a year before it sticks.
- You should never have to take a break from your diet. If you find you have to take a break, you're making too many compromises in the first place. New eating habits have to be comfortable or they'll never last.
- Know why you're dieting and working out. It's important to know why you want to get in shape. Is it for health? For vanity? Be sure of your reasons, and write them down.
- Changing behavior is a process it's ongoing, a flow. There is no real official start date or end date for a diet.
- Want a quick snack? Low-calorie soups no more than 80 calories a cup are a great option. Studies show that if you have a low-cal soup before a meal you'll actually eat less.
- Air-popped popcorn is a great snack. It's filling, full of fiber and fun. Eat one kernel at a time the snack will last longer and make you feel fuller.
- Snack smart. Research shows that healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and mini-meals can actually help you eat less at your next meal.
- Surf the "CRAVING" wave. The idea is to come up with other behaviors to focus on in advance so that when the craving comes you can ride it for 20 to 30 minutes without indulging.
- Find your daily calorie budget to lose weight. Pick your target weight, then multiply by 10 calories per pound, but remember, you never want to eat less than 1,200 calories per day.
- Read before you eat. Knowing the true value of what you're consuming won't spoil the pleasure of eating; it will do the opposite, helping you to decide what's splurge-worthy.
- Confidence is one of the single biggest predictors of the ability to change. Draw from past successes, model and get support from others who are doing it, measure how you're doing, educate yourself by taking cooking classes, learn by trial and error.
- Calorie-counting not doing the trick? Think in terms of exercise equivalents. For instance, it would take six hours of walking to burn off the calories in one ice cream sundae. Think before you eat.
- Control over your life doesn't arise from dodging and avoiding difficulties but from coping with the issues (minor and major) that come your way or that you create.
- It's NOT just numbers. There are other important factors that determine how you feel. Do you have a little extra zip? Are you sleeping better? Feeling healthier? More energetic? You are probably benefitting from your workout and diet even if you are not seeing a change in your weight.
- Check out your personal food environment. Those who make successful weight-loss resolutions review and change their surroundings by removing the cues that cause them to overeat and not exercise.
- People love to blame. We blame situations, circumstances, events and even ourselves for where we are in our lives. Blame allows us to avoid taking a necessary action. It excuses us from acting responsibly.
CHARLES PLATKIN, Ph.D., M.P.H., THE DIET DETECTIVE is one of the country's leading nutrition and public health advocates, whose syndicated health, nutrition and fitness column, the Diet Detective appears in more than 100 daily newspapers nationally. Dr. Platkin is also the founder of DietDetective.com, which offers nutrition, food, and fitness information. Platkin is a health expert and blogger featured on Everydayhealth.com, Active.com and Fitnessmagazine.com. Additionally, Platkin is a Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City.
The information provided is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician.