It's no secret that a lot of us are obsessed with dieting, and keeping yourself healthy is essential to maximizing your ROI on physical health. It seems also to be true that many health gurus, commercial enterprises, and the popular media are just as obsessed with bringing the next big diet to anyone who is ready to eat it up. With all the interest in dieting, why is obesity so prevalent that it has been recognized as a common chronic disease? Currently, more than 50 percent of U.S. adults are classified as overweight or obese.
No matter what diet you choose or plan to start, the bottom line remains caloric intake. Even if you consume the healthiest of diets and ingredients, so long as you take in more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight. Caloric balance is the key.
A good rule of thumb for healthy weight loss is to cut 500 calories a day to lose about one pound a week. If you cut 250 calories, count on losing half a pound a week. This process is accelerated when coupled with regular exercise. However, it is very difficult to count calories consistently. It can be done initially until your goals are reached. Once your new diet habits are established, you can wean yourself off of regular counting so long as you remain conscious of your consumption. For some people, even that may be extremely difficult. In that case, instead of counting, simply try to reduce your caloric intake when possible.
Even eliminating a small portion of daily calories without counting can go a long way. Here are a few tricks you can try to help reduce your daily caloric intake:
- Try using smaller plates and bowls as well as smaller serving and eating utensils.
- Start a meal with a salad and drink a glass of water before the meal to help reduce your appetite.
- Snack frequently, such as on small quantities of healthy nuts, to curb your appetite.
- Split or share a meal when you go out to eat; it not only saves calories but also your hard-earned money.
- Eat slowly. In other words, nibble and graze on your food. it takes 20 to 30 minutes for your brain to tell your body it's full.
- Order dressing on the side and minimize some of the tempting side dishes and condiments.
- Clean your pantry and cupboards of all the junk.
- Skip the dessert and the buffets. (These were one of my weaknesses -- I used to be a kid in a candy store when I saw buffets. The all-you-can-eat cruises, all-inclusive trips, and Vegas buffets used to kill me. I would try to eat to get my money's worth.)
- Use some common reference points to help gauge your portions. For example, a clenched fist or baseball would amount to about one cup. A large egg or lightbulb would be about half a cup. The tip of your thumb would be one teaspoon. A poker chip would be about one tablespoon. A golf ball is about one ounce. You can go to choosemyplate.gov for more information on various portion sizes.
Follow these tips, and you'll be well on your way to healthy weight loss.
Sanjay Jain is a US-trained Board Certified physician, with over 15 years of clinical experience. He is the author of the new book, OPTIMAL LIVING 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life (Greenleaf, February 2014). Sanjay represents a new wave of thought leadership and expertise developed not only from his medical and financial education, but also his life experiences. Follow Sanjay on Twitter at @sanjayjainmd and visit his website at SanjayJainMD.com.