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Are Your Slim Down Strategies Backfiring?

Good morning. Yesterday I mentioned a new survey that looks at what Americans are eating and why and how consumers feel about their health. This week I’m revealing some of the findings, along with tips to help you meet your health and weight loss goals.


Today’s topic is about how people attempt to shed those extra LBs.


Seventy percent of those surveyed say they are concerned about their weight and 77 percent are trying to either lose or maintain their weight. Between 60 and 70 are putting three key strategies to work: 1) changing the amount of food they eat (69 percent); changing the type of foods they eat (63 percent); and engaging in more physical activity (60 percent).


I think each one of these is great, but they can be a bit of a slippery slope. Here’s why:


Changing the amount of food you eat isn’t always necessary if you change your proportions. For example if instead of eating 1 cup of rice or pasta at dinner if you swapped half for 1 cup of grilled or steamed vegetables you’d be eating more food but you’d save about 75 calories and boost your nutrient intake. And that’s at just one meal. Rather than cutting down on everything your best bet may be to choose larger portions of naturally low calorie, high water and high fiber foods (leafy greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, berries, melon…), and smaller portions of all natural foods that are more calorie dense, like wild rice, lentils, extra virgin olive oil, almond butter, avocado, etc.


As far as changing the types of foods you eat that’s a great thing IF the change is something like wild rice in place of white rice - but a swap out may not lead to weight loss if it’s something like snacking on multigrain chips in place of potato chips. And as far as physical activity, being more active is healthy and certainly helps burn more calories, but many people tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned and therefore splurge a little with their diets, which may cancel out the calorie benefit of the exercise.


Whatever method you use, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind to really reap the benefits. It’s really all about quality, proportions and awareness. Here are three key rules of thumb that rarely backfire:


Choose more fresh, unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.


Change your proportions to eat more fruits and veggies and smaller servings of grains, proteins and “good” fats.


Keep quality as well as calories in mind (see yesterday’s post about calorie balance) – in other words low calorie processed foods aren’t the best road to weight loss. 


Have you ever made a change you thought would help you lose weight that didn’t work? Please share your thoughts and experiences!


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