Obstacles To Weight Loss: What Gets In The Way? (cont.)

I think in the long term this is important, both because salt directly affects blood pressure, and because your taste preference may steer you toward processed foods and away from natural foods. Retrain your taste buds NOW to accrue lifelong health benefits.

Moderator: We have a comment about your earlier statement that learning good nutrition is like riding a bike:

Member: Learning to ride a bicycle is MUCH easier than learning about nutrition because of all the conflicting information. I understand why that is, so moving right along with the information researchers have NOW -- how important do you think grains are to a well-balanced diet?

Katz: First, I want to agree entirely with your comment. Learning to eat well is much more complicated than learning to ride a bike. The basic benefits, though, are the same.

Once you learn how to do it, you really can do it forever. Without much effort, even! As for grains, the volume of evidence available overwhelmingly suggests that they protect us against the leading causes of death and disability, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. For that reason alone, I am very dubious about any approach to diet and weight control that restricts consumption of whole grains.

Do bear in mind however that the nutritional properties of whole grains and highly refined carbohydrates such as sugar, simple starch, or white flour, differ as night and day. We should not be misled by overly simplified labels. Carbohydrates are a diverse nutrient class and, in terms of health and weight control, containsthe good, the bad, and the ugly. These should not be lumped together. Definitely make whole grains a part of your diet.

Member: How do I not to get frustrated when I am clearly eating less, feeling hungry, and exercising, but not see any results or even worse, gaining weight?

Katz: I am not sure you can avoid frustration completely, but let's give it a shot! First and foremost, you can't choose what to weigh. You CAN choose the way you eat and your activity level. If you are eating well, and being physically active, I congratulate and commend you. You are succeeding and you should not let the mirror or the scale tell you otherwise. There is a saying often sold in greeting card stores, "Give me the strength to change the things I can, the patience to change the things I can, and the wisdom to distinguish between the two." You are appropriately focusing on the things you DO control. Keep up the good work.

But to try and help you with your weight control, consider that most people overestimate their physical activity and underestimate their caloric intake. This occurs because we are often inattentive to some sources of calories, especially spreads, dressings, sauces, and snacks eaten while doing other things. Consider that a salad may be mixed greens with a balsamic dressing rich in nutrients and low in calories, OR a salad may have few greens, many croutons and blue cheese dressing. Both are called salads, but nutritionally they have very little in common. Conduct an honest and detailed audit of your diet to track down calories to which you have been inattentive in the past. This may help alleviate your frustration.

Finally, I understand that some people eat very little and gain weight nonetheless. This is not fair. But it is reality. Understand that in your case, you may be working against a particularly efficient metabolism. If that is so you may need to modify your expectations for weight loss somewhat so that you don't wind up in a constant, frustrating struggle.

Member: My 4-year-old son has been diagnosed to have ADHD. He is very finicky on what he wants to eat and to get him to eat at all we have to give him what he wants. How can I get him to change his likes to eat things that are really healthy so we can change our total diet and get on the right track to eat healthier. I am now 40 and I am overweight. So is my husband. We would like to change they way we eat, but it seems we can't because of our son. We also have two smaller children that are becoming finicky. What can I do?

"I actually don't think rapid weight loss diets are such a great idea."

Katz: It's a great question. And one I am pleased I can respond to from rich personal experience. I am a father of five children. And while none of them has ADHD, their dietary preferences do vary considerably. There is a great deal of detailed advice regarding this very issue in The Way to Eat. But let me offer a simple overview now: All of us, children and adults alike, are profoundly influenced by the nutritional environment. In other words, the foods that surround us on a daily basis. In your own home you can construct a safe nutritional environment. So for example, your son may like chips, but if you have the chips in the house are baked and not fried, they will likely be satisfied with those. Your son may like ice cream but if what you keep at home is sorbet, this can become ice cream to him. Little by little you can find the best nutritional alternative in virtually any food category. Once your house is a safe nutritional environment your son can be finicky all he wants, because all of the options will be good ones.

Do note that as you transition to new foods there may be some resistance because we all like what we are used to. But the transition period is short, so tough it out. It is worth it. It's clear that your entire family could benefit from making these changes. Think how wonderful it would be if your young children grew up simple accustomed to healthy food choices and if as long as they lived they never had to struggle with weight control. This is a gift we in fact as parents CAN give our children. If we learn and practice the right way of eating our own health and weight control improves in the bargain -- making this a real win-win situation.

Lastly, preserve some indulgences for your son. Remember that for him, just like for you and me, eating should be pleasurable. We should all balance the pursuit of health and weight control against the pleasure we derive from eating our favorite foods.

Member: What is your opinion of humans drinking cow's milk? The dairy industry would have us believe we'll DIE without it! Are there any problems you know of with regular milk consumption? Soy milk is becoming more popular but I can't find it in fat-free.

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