When limiting calories, you still need to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Eat a variety of foods every day. Choose from each of the five food groups - milk, meat, fruit, vegetable and bread - and allow for an occasional treat. Balanced food plans encourage making wise choices about everyday food - choices you can make to stay at your proper weight for life.
You should also evaluate your eating patterns. Sometimes six small meals a day can help you control your hunger. If you prefer to stay with eating three main meals, always plan for some low-calorie between-meal snacks to help avoid overeating at your next meal.
All foods and beverages can be consumed in moderation. Try to cut down on foods high in fat and sugar, or substitute with reduced-calorie and reduced-fat foods and beverages.
Most successful weight-loss plans call for a reduction in both calories and the amount of fat eaten. The fat in your diet should be limited to 30 percent or less of total calories each day. And calories still count!
Determine what type of physical activity best suits your lifestyle. You should work your way up to regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming, since it is a key factor in achieving permanent weight loss and improving health. Aerobic exercise works the body's large muscles, such as the heart, and should be moderately vigorous, but not exhausting, to be most effective. For maximum benefits, most health experts recommend exercising 30 minutes or more on most, preferably all, days of the week.
Try to incorporate some simple calorie-burners into your everyday routine. Even the most basic activities (such as taking an after-dinner walk, using the stairs at the mall instead of taking an escalator, or parking farther away so you have a longer walk) can get you prepared for more aerobic activities.
Exercise not only burns calories, it may increase the body's metabolic rate and actually decreases appetite for some people. Exercise also has psychological benefits. It improves your sense of well-being and decreases stress (which often leads to overeating). For more information on Fitness and Exercise, please visit the MedicineNet.com Fitness area.
Modify Your Behavior...
Controlling weight means having to learn two sets of behavior: weight loss and weight maintenance. According to many health professionals, weight maintenance is the more difficult. Less than a third of the people who lose weight are able to keep it off. Long-term success depends upon continuing the good eating and exercise habits you developed while losing weight.
It will take time to make these new habits a permanent part of your life. Continue to modify your behavior by:
- accepting the fact that you will still be tempted by "fattening" foods
- realizing you can eat tempting foods in moderation, so you won't feel deprived
- increasing low-calorie and low-fat choices
- trying new forms of exercise (by making exercise fun, you will likely stick to it.)
Know your eating habits. Do you overindulge when eating your "favorite" foods? Do you eat when you're depressed or worried? Do you use food as a reward? Keeping track of your eating habits in a food diary may help you cut down on how much you eat.
Don't let a temporary setback get you down. Go right back to your winning ways!
Stay motivated - focus on your goals. Seek help if you cannot do it alone.
Join a weight-loss organization or a health club. Your local hospital may even
offer a weight loss clinic. Also ask friends and family for support.
(Source: This information has been provided with the kind permission of Calorie Control Council, www.caloriecontrol.org)