I love this time of the year! When the weather starts to improve, I start to day dream about getting outside to enjoy the weather! Many of us soon realize that the summer AKA “Bathing Suit Season” is not far behind and start to “tighten up” our diets. Changing our diets in the short term can help to make visible changes in our bodies, but before we go too far down this rabbit hole, I want to make sure that everyone is aware that any dietary changes that we make should to be sustainable for the long haul. If you make changes in your eating habits, that you have no intention of continuing, you must plan that any weight loss that occurs, will most likely be temporary. Let me repeat that, if you can’t sustain the changes to your diet for the long haul, plan to gain the weight back soon after you return to your previous dietary habits!
This week I have had two separate conversations with patients, who happen to be trying to lose a couple of pounds, regarding their nutritional plans. While both patients admitted that they would like to lose some weight, they were going about it with vastly different approaches. In order to understand exactly what they were doing I asked them both what they had eaten the day before. This gave me a glimpse into how they planned to approach their weight loss. After they told me, I asked them “Do you think that you could eat that way for the rest of your life?” The looks on their faces gave me my answer!
The first patient that I spoke with was attempting to significantly limit her caloric intake. She had been a part of a Weight Watchers group (which helped her to drop about 25-30 lbs which has subsequently “gained back plus some”) about 10 years ago and wanted to try to replicate the changes that she made then. When I asked her what she ate the day before, she told me: Breakfast was 2 pieces of toast, a banana, and a cup of coffee. Lunch was a half a tuna sandwich, a snack bar with a glass of water. Dinner was a Lean Cuisine meal (Does it really matter which kind?) She reported that she had no other food during the day… Her total caloric intake was so far below what her body needs on a daily basis that there was no way that she would be able to survive! Remember that your body is a machine and we need to fuel that machine! Starvation is not a good way to approach sustainable weight loss.
My second patient is also trying to limit his caloric intake, but has done so by adding carbohydrates, and “hidden” sugars. His diet looked like this… Breakfast was TWO bowls of Raisin Bran, with skim milk and orange juice. Lunch was a sandwich and chips with water. Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with a mixed vegetable salad with low fat ranch dressing. This patient was SHOCKED when I told him that he consumes about 50 more grams of carbohydrates before he leaves his house than I eat in an entire day! Let that sink in for a moment… Despite the fact that they make up the base of the food pyramid, that our diet was based on for about 40 years, carbohydrates are not your friend! As a result of that same food pyramid, many people are avoiding fats, including consuming more “low fat” foods, like this patient’s salad dressing. The problem with “low fat” foods is that in order to make the foods taste good, the producer of the food must add other ingredients to make it palatable. Those other ingredients are where the problems arise…