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Trouble Losing Weight? Think Like A Dietitian

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
September 15, 2022
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The Atkins diet, Whole30, keto, paleo, cabbage soup, blood type, Weight Watchers, juice cleanse, Caveman… These are all names of fad diets. Some are logical, others are expensive, or a little bit crazy, and some will keep you in the bathroom for days. Navigating the world of products, diets and supplements is never-ending, expensive, and torturous. But you don’t really need all those gimmicks to lose weight. In fact, there are some great ways to do it naturally, like some standard, approved diets for different conditions. If you are still having trouble, read this article to learn how your Dietitian approaches weight management, and follow these tips to lose weight, think like your Dietitian, and not break the bank (or your bathroom).

General Eating Habits to Live by

  • Eat a little, eat often. At least three times per day, but ideally 5-6 small meals and snacks all day long. Usually ranging between 400-500 calories for a meal, and 100-200 calories for a snack.
  • Pay attention to your body. When you feel like you have had enough to eat, stop. Quit before you feel full, stuffed, or sick from eating. Not sure when to stop? Talk to your Dietitian about what’s the right size portion of your common meals or foods. Put ONLY THAT on your plate.
  • Drink water. Sometimes the body confuses thirst for hunger - you may be thirsty, not hungry. Drink water, wait, and see what happens.
  • Wait. It takes between 20-30 minutes for your brain to receive the message that your stomach is full. Sometimes, all you need to do is wait. Often, the craving will go away.
  • Still hungry? Think about the balanced plate- what might you be missing from the last meal or two? Treat your hunger with what your body needs.
  • Pick low-fat foods: choose lean meats, low-fat or nonfat cheese, and skim (nonfat) or 1% fat milk instead of higher-fat/higher-calorie choices.
  • Get plenty of fiber. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are good sources. Men need around 35g fiber per day, while women need around 25g per day. If you are reading food labels, a good slice of bread may have around 4g fiber and 19g total carbohydrate.
  • Avoid added sugar. If you’re drinking fruit juice or soda, try cutting it out gradually. The same goes for sweetened granola, yogurt, or sweet treats.
  • Limit alcohol. All beer, wine, and liquor that contains alcohol will be metabolized into fat long before it turns into energy. Alcohol is the quickest way to derail your weight loss plans.
  • Be mindful of your emotions. We sometimes eat when we aren’t hungry, but we are dealing with other emotions, like boredom, tiredness, frustration, or stress. Watch out. If you aren’t really hungry, avoid grabbing food to treat those emotions.
  • There’s a place and time for everything. Eat only in a specific place, like the kitchen. Don’t make a habit of eating in the car, bedroom, or in front of the TV. Other areas will lend themselves to higher-calorie snacking.

Food Preparation

Plan meals ahead of time help you to stick to a routine.

  • You won’t be tempted to get second helpings.
  • You won’t be caught without a balanced meal or forced to eat poorly.

Make extra portions of the healthy stuff.

  • Save time by preparing leftover containers in meal-sized portions.
  • Before eating the meal, store the leftovers in containers that you can’t see through
  • Only keep out the portion that is appropriate for you. You won’t be going back for seconds if it is not out and hot.

Cook without fat (bake, broil, roast, boil, toast)

  • Use nonstick pans like ceramic or teflon, or use cooking sprays instead of butter or oil.
  • Cook with a wet medium: use wine, broth,
    or fruit juice instead of oil or fat

Cook when you are not hungry. For example, cook and refrigerate tomorrow’s dinner after you have finished eating tonight.

Drink water while you cook, so you are not tempted to snack on what you are cooking.

Mealtimes

Drink a glass of water before you eat, to ensure you don’t overeat.

Use smaller dishes. The average dinner plate sold in department stores is around 13 inches. Plates have gotten 4 inches bigger in the last 50 years, while our activity level has dropped significantly.

  • The size plate that most Americans need is around 8-9 inches. The bigger the plate, the more you’ll want to fill it. Get a smaller plate.
  • Measure your plates, and replace them if they’re too big. Luncheon plates, antique plates pre-1960s, or just an 8-inch plate will do.

Balance each meal using the plate method: Fill half of your plate with vegetables, 1/4 with protein, and 1/4 with whole grains

Make mealtime special by using pretty dishes, napkins, and glasses.

Eat slowly. Take a few one-minute breaks from eating during meals, have a conversation, or put your fork down between bites.

Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cake, pie, or other sweets.

Remove your plate as soon as you’ve finished eating. Keeping an empty plate around makes you more tempted to refill it when you aren’t really hungry.

Snacking

  • Snacking can be part of your plan for healthy weight loss. You can eat six times per day as long as you plan it and control the calories.
  • Plan ahead. Be sure to have healthy snacks on hand. If the right food is not there, you may be more likely to eat whatever is available, such as candy, cookies, chips, leftovers, or other “quick” choices.
  • Keep low-calorie snacks in a special part of the refrigerator. Good choices include the following:

     Reduced-fat string cheese, low-calorie yogurt, and nonfat milk

    Washed, bite-size pieces of fresh fruit/vegetables, like carrots, celery, pepper strips, and cucumbers. Serve with low-calorie dips, like hummus or fat-free savory greek yogurt.

Takeaways

Remember, that while there are a lot of products out there that make promises, there are still ways you can live healthfully, eat healthfully, and lose weight on a budget. You control the food; it doesn’t control you.

You don’t need to fall for the hype, gimmicks, or tricks to lose weight fast. We won’t try to sell you supplements to lose weight fast, because your healthy lifestyle is, in fact, a life-long journey. Talk with your Dietitian or health coach if you are hitting some roadblocks in your health journey, and we will help you over every little (and big) bump along the way.

Reference: Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Weight Loss Tips. Retrieved Feb 09, 2022.

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