A Good Diet

Foods to have in the house: Foods to keep out of the house.

Maintaining Your Weight

Where does the food we eat go?

  1. If you are young and growing, food is needed to build up your body. Even if you aren't young, food is needed to replace and repair your tissues.
  2. Food provides energy for you to move, maintain your body temperature, fight off diseases, and keep all your body's metabolic (life) processes going.

What happens to the extra food if we eat too much?

How can we tell how much to eat?

The human body has a control system, that makes us hungry when we need to eat, and satisfied when we've had enough. We call this control mechanism an "appestat". It used to do a pretty good job. However, recently we find that 33% of children and 66% of adults in the U.S. are overweight. It seems that many of us are doing something to "fool" our appestats.

What makes us feel satisfied?

Why Dieting is So Hard

There are two basic reasons why dieting is so hard:

Hunger -- Your Appestat Works Against You

If we gain some weight rather quickly, it is not that hard to lose it, providing we start right away. We seem not to be as hungry as usual. Our appestat is working for us.

However, if we keep the excess weight for some months, it becomes extremely difficult to lose. It seems that our appestat resets itself; it becomes determined that we keep that excess weight.

Your body conserves fuel.

When you begin to diet, your body tries to help you out. It notices less food coming in, so it tries to conserve. It digests food more efficiently. Even though you are eating less, you may absorb just as many calories from your food.

If you cutback more sharply, you may become tired. Your body will save fuel by lowering your metabolic rate. You'll feel tired. The remedy -- exercise. Exercise every day. This will rev up your metabolism, so that you burn more food for hours after you have finished exercising. You'll have energy, and feel much better.

Yo-Yo Dieting

If you go on a crash diet, you'll feel starved while on the diet. But the harder part will come when you are off the diet. Unless you gained the weight quite recently, you will probably be extra hungry. This will likely continue until you have gained the weight back.

Yo-yo dieting is not good for your body. It is said to be worse for you than not dieting in the first place.

Thus the first step in dieting should be to begin maintaining your weight.

Your first goal

Find the smallest amount you can eat without being hungry.

You can do this by eating just enough so that you don't go around hungry. You should do this over a period of time, so that your stomach has time to shrink, if it needs to, and so that you learn to like the (perhaps) new foods you are eating.

What Tastes Good?

The hungrier you are, the better food will taste. As you begin eating healthier foods, they will begin to taste better, until a dish of fruit will taste delightful.

Eventually you will stop craving high calorie food. When you've reached the point that you don't want to eat more than you need, you are finally ready to diet.

The Diet

Continue eating the diet you have worked out for yourself -- the same healthy foods in the same amounts.

Begin to increase your exercise level over the next several weeks. Choose several types of exercise that you enjoy. This will not only burn calories while you are exercising, but will increase your metabolism, so that you burn more calories for the next several hours. The goal is to feel good -- better than you have in a while.

Some Exercise Suggestions

How Fast to Lose Weight

I would consider a pound a month to be an excellent rate. Consider what it means to lose a pound of fat. One pound is 454 grams x 9 calories per gram = 4000 calories.

Only a very muscular athlete exercising for hours a day will use that much. Most of us eat only about half that much in a day (if we're not pigging out), and we will really notice it if we run a calorie deficit of 10%, or about 200 calories.

Remember that losing the weight faster isn't going to get the pain over with. You still have to keep it off, and the faster you lose, the longer you will stay hungry after the loss. Ninety per cent of diets don't result in yo yo syndrome for nothing.

Tracking Your Progress

What affects your weight.

We tend to think that our weight is affected only by our body fat, but this is not true. A number of things affect body weight.

First of all weight varies with the time of day. You probably weigh least first thing in the morning. And clothes can weigh 2 to 5 pounds.

Crash dieters, who practically quit eating for a few days, can lose a few pounds by emptying out their small intestine, which was mostly full of fluid anyway. This is not helpful. It comes quickly back when eating is resumed.

Quite a few people retain excess fluids due to eating too much salt. Cutting back on salt and drinking plenty of water can cause them to lose one to several pounds. This is a good thing.

Healthy fit bodies are a bit more dense than fat ones. This shows up as more weight on the scale, but as a smaller clothing size.

Finally we come to body fat. Weight gain and loss can sometimes be due to changes in the amount of body fat. However such changes tend to be slow. Losing weight is especially slow.

Copyright July 2005, 2006 by Nancy E. Knox

If you like this page, or if you find a mistake, I'd appreciate your sending an email to
nancy "at" solutionsforyou "dot" org.

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