It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions: to go on a diet, but we need to get rid of the term ‘diet’, according to GP Dr Jill Gamberg of Double Bay Doctors.
“Diets do not work,” something you’ll already likely know if at the start of each new year you’re back on the diet train.
“Diets are restrictive, [often] difficult to follow, cause stress to the participant, and may end up causing disordered eating and/or nutrient deficiencies.
“If losing weight is your ultimate goal, then dieting will likely help you lose weight in the short-term.
“[But] as soon as you ‘go off your diet’…, the weight will be gained back…Most dieters gain back the weight in the long-term,” Gamberg said.
The key to losing the weight for good? Make changes you can stick to.
A balanced diet based on wholefoods – food in its most natural state - is a good place to start, and is not really a diet but a way of life, Gamberg said.
Some simple ‘rules’ to go by:
Eat the rainbow: “A variety of fruits, vegetables [and legumes] contain [a significant amount of the] nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed for optimum health, and keep meals interesting,” Gamberg said.
Don’t diss carbohydrates: They’re the brain’s primary fuel source, which is why low carb diets have such a high dropout rate. For slow-burning fuel and to keep appetite at bay, choose quality carbohydrates such as wholegrains (like quinoa and brown rice) and sweet potatoes instead of refined and processed carbohydrates like white bread, chips, and baked goods.
Choose the right fats: With its well-rounded, lingering mouthfeel, fat is highly satiating; include a little in each meal and you may find you eat less – provided you opt for good fats. Gamberg recommends seeds, nuts, avocado, olive oil and oily fish instead of fried foods and rich desserts, which encourage overeating.
Drink more water: Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, or 1.5 to 2 litres,” Gamberg says.
Include good quality protein: To help stablise your blood sugar and keep appetite at bay. Be it fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat or legumes, protein only needs to comprise about a quarter of your meal size, Gamberg said.
Avoid packaged foods containing more than 5 or 6 ingredients: “Anything [with] too many ingredients is bound to be processed and contain chemicals and preservatives,” as well as added sugars and undesirable fats.
Add flavour to your foods with herbs and spices: Try cinnamon on your porridge instead of sugar, and fresh rosemary on your roast vegetables instead of a heavy sprinkle of salt.
Don’t deprive yourself: “Have treats by all means, but only sometimes; maybe limit these to celebrations like birthdays or holidays,” Gamberg said.
Make meals relaxing and distraction-free: An effective measure for preventing overeating, “sit down and eat with your family or friends, using no devices, at least once daily.”
Get moving: “The other really important component of maintaining a healthy weight is the need to move more. We need physical activity in our lives every day,” Gamberg said.
Remind yourself of the bigger picture: “Making these changes will set you up for a healthier life, reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and many different cancers.
“This new year, by all means lose weight if you need to, but do it in a sustainable way by changing your lifestyle and making better choices for your health,” Gamberg said.
- For more information visit HealthShare, a joint venture with Fairfax to improve the health of regional Australians. Or you can find a specialist near you using the health tool below.