Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Simple Truth of Weight Control

The mystery of weight control is not really a mystery at all. That balance between calories in and calories out is as much a matter of math as anything else.

But you were never a math scholar, you say? Let’s make it simple. A pound equals 3,500 calories. To lose a pound a week you need a deficit of 500 calories per day. Try eating 250 calories less (do you really want that afternoon candy bar?) and burning 250 additional calories per day (30 minutes of brisk cardio, anyone?).

I know that does not sound glamorous, sexy or exciting, but the beauty of it is that it can be done. Along the way you want to be sure that you are eating foods that are low in fat (white meat such as poultry, fish, skim dairy products), high in fiber (whole-grain breads and cereals, fresh fruit, salads, grilled or steamed veggies), and also taste good (your spice rack is very valuable here).

Read food labels and watch your portions. Be sure to check the important, “servings per container” section of those food labels. Check out the magazines “Eating Well” and “Cooking Light” for some inspiration; those are my personal favorites. I know that it is not always easy to eat healthy and control your weight, but the principle is simple.

While you are getting to the nuts and bolts of weight loss and healthy eating, do yourself a big favor – stop referring to yourself as being “good” or “bad” depending on what you have eaten. It’s as though Santa is always standing over your shoulder saying, “Salad and grilled fish for dinner – what a good girl!” Worse yet, “Double cheeseburger? Bad boy! No presents for you!”

Healthy eating is something we do for ourselves. When we eat healthy foods we feel better, look better, and have more energy. When we eat unhealthy foods we’re not bad people, we’ve just made poor choices.

But the point is that it’s our choice. Our food choices don’t make us good or bad; they just help to make us healthy or not as healthy. So, this holiday season and all year long, remember that the choice is yours. Healthful eating and regular exercise make us healthy people; poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle make us unhealthy people. Stop putting a value judgment on it.

Won’t it be great to have one less thing to feel stressed about?

-- Rosemarie Lembo James, RD, CNSD, LD/N
Clinical Director, Nutrition Services

Listen to Rosemarie talk about weight control on the Dec. 10 edition of Martin Memorial Healthcast, a weekly podcast created by Martin Memorial discussing topics that can help you improve your health. A new edition of Healthcast appears each Monday. To access Healthcast, visit

No comments: