While we are all different, there are some basic guidelines for the general public to follow to encourage long-term weight loss and for improving general health. However, if you have special nutritional needs, consult your physician or a registered dietician to help you develop an eating regimen that will address those needs.
There are virtually dozens of guidelines and tips to follow; however, below are ten tips to get you heading the right direction.
1) There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. Therefore, the small things do matter! Reducing your intake of saturated fats such as butter can have a dramatic impact on your caloric input. Butter has 100 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, if you have one serving per day, that is approximately 36,000 calories per year which translates to ten pounds per year! Additionally, lowering your intake of saturated fats is recommended for healthier hearts (i.e. the USDA recommends that less than ten percent of your total fat intake should be from saturated fats—check your dietary labels on all foods!).
2) Diets don’t work but controlling your portion sizes does work, so pay attention to your portions.
Examples of serving sizes are:
- ½ slice of bagel
- one cup of raw vegetables
- an apple which fits into your hand
- one cup of nonfat milk or two ounces of nonfat cheese
- a serving size of fish, poultry or meat is the size of the palm of your hand and about the thickness of a deck of cards
3) When choosing grains, choose whole grains whenever possible such as whole grain breads and cereals.
4) Eat a variety of vegetables as these are chock full of vitamins and minerals and low in calories.
5) Choose a variety of fruits.
6) Limit empty calorie foods such as candy and sodas as these put calories into your body, but provide you with little or no nutrient value.
7) Focus on the six essential nutrients, plus fiber. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These nutrients are the only ones that provide your body with energy. The two micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and the most essential nutrient is water. If the average person regularly eats a balanced diet (i.e. grains, vegetables, fruits, milk or milk products and meat/beans), they will increase their chances of providing their body with the macronutrients and micronutrients, fiber and the water they need to function well.
8) Athletes, infants and those individuals with other special needs, such as diabetics, may need to modify their diet to provide them with the nutrients their bodies require. Registered dieticians are qualified to help direct the general population as well as those with special needs.
9) Food Preparation – steam it, bake it, broil it, or grill it.
10) There are no “bad” foods, just moderate foods high in saturated fats and simple sugars. Deprivation does not work for most people. So, think moderation rather than elimination.