When it comes to food and diet, one of the most commonly asked questions has to be “how can I lose weight?” We know that fad diets don’t work, and if we want to keep weight off for good we need to make lifestyle changes we can maintain, but what should we focus on? To help us answer this question, we got in touch with registered dietitian, Suzie Cromwell from the Elaho Medical Clinic in Squamish. Here are her top four weight loss tips for shedding some pounds in a sustainable and lasting way.
Control Portion Sizes
People have lost touch with what is considered an appropriate portion size. Large packaging has become the norm in grocery stores and generous servings in restaurants. Studies have shown when we are served a larger amount of food we tend to eat more, than if we were given a smaller amount. Instead of obsessing over numbers, focus on portion sizes. I highly recommend using the healthy plate model, a visual tool to learn what an appropriate portion size looks like. Start with using a 9 inch side plate instead of a large dinner plate. The plate will look fuller but you’ll end up consuming less. Fill half your plate with at least 2 different kinds of vegetables. Doing so helps you reap the benefits of what vegetables have to offer such as; fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. 1/4 of your plate should be whole grains, choose ones high in fibre and low on the glycemic index; the size of your fist or smaller. Balance your meal off with 1/4 plate of plant and or animal based proteins such as; lean white meat, fish, plain greek yogurt, beans/lentils, nuts or seeds. Choose an amount up to the size of your palm, width of your pinky finger or a deck of cards.
Eat Real Foods
Limit processed foods and avoid ultra processed foods, these foods are high in calories, sodium, sugar, fat, and additives with minimal nutritional value. Instead focus more on whole foods, foods that are found in its natural form, foods that breakdown and rot over time. The less tinkering from the food industry the better. Keep it simple; take it back to the basics. Schedule time to prepare simple nutritious meals.
Watch Out For Added Sugar
Limit added sugars, many foods have natural occurring sugars such as milk, yogurt, and fruit. It’s the sugar that the food industry adds to foods such as; yogurt, milk alternatives, peanut butter, cereals, beverages, and condiments that you want to be careful of. Read labels but be aware that the nutrition facts tables do not distinguish between added sugars and natural occurring sugars. This where your detective skills come into play, read the ingredient list – added sugars include corn syrup, glucose-fructose, dextrose, agave, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses and evaporated cane juice.
(Here are our tips for quitting the white stuff)
Keep Your Goals Realistic
Make realistic and not overly ambitious weight goals. Be specific and have a stepwise approach, set monthly targets or small goals that are easy to attain. This will help boost your self-confidence and motivation. Identify any possible barriers in advance, this will help you to avoid and manage any roadblocks and keep you on track with your goals. Lastly, if you have already made significant changes to your diet and eating the best you can, are physically active and happy with life, than it may be time for you to revisit your weight loss goals and ask yourself how realistic is it to achieve that certain number. Being healthy comes in various weights and sizes.
Because these weight loss tips are not a quick fix fad diet, learning to live by them could help you achieve lasting change. But always remember – before embarking upon any dietary changes, consult with a registered dietitian.
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Suzie Cromwell is a Registered Dietitian now working part-time at Elaho Medical Clinic. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Health at UBC, and following her graduation she completed an extensive integrated internship with Fraser Health Authority at both Royal Columbian and Burnaby Hospitals. Suzie is registered with the College of Dietitians of British Columbia and is a member of Dietitians of Canada.
Her scope of expertise includes: healthy weight loss and maintenance, the prevention and management of various chronic diseases (including Diabetes, Kidney, and Cardiovascular disease), and the effective management of digestive issues (including IBS, IBD, and Celiac Disease); as well, she has a special interest in Sports Nutrition.