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Overcoming diet pitfalls

Tips to achieve satisfying meals and a healthier you.

by Bernice Varona


It’s the holiday season once more— the time of the year when a lot of people are faced with delectable dishes that are irresistibly tempting. And come New Year, everyone regrets binging—then resolves to go on diets.

Many try at least one diet in their lives with the hopes of becoming slimmer and leaner, but fail. Even anthropologist Margaret Mead declared, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.” But there are tips and strategies to improve one’s chances of success.

Know what you want

Before starting any diet program, it’s best to assess yourself. “I always ask [my clients] first why [they] want to diet. I believe that their reasons will determine how motivated and ready they are to do the program,” reveals nutritionist Novie Anne Flores, R.N.D.

Knowing what you want to achieve and making it realistic, measurable and attainable will assist in committing to a program. Researchers say that most people relapse and fail because of unrealistic expectations such as comparing your results with another person’s. Everyone has different body types and needs, so you can’t expect similar results. Your motivation stems from self-knowledge and understanding your goals and needs. The program should reflect what you want to achieve and not what other people expect.

Remember to account for life circumstances that might hamper your efforts, as well as risk factors or health issues such as hypertension. Set both short- and long-term goals: Short-term goals are stepping stones towards your long-term goals, and keep you engaged daily. Long-term goals motivate you over the long haul.

Pick the right program for you

Most people fail because there is a mismatch between the person’s needs, goals, personality and the diet program, or that they are not informed of what they should do. “For most of my clients, the challenge in following a certain diet program is that they do not know how to execute it,” says Flores. “For example, portion and serving sizes are highly variable depending on the food item, and some clients have no idea how much they should consume.”

There are programs that are very rigid and entail a lot of time for meal preparation, and if the person who does this program has little time to spare, it can add to the possibility of failure. Other factors include the availability of the food required by the diet program, affordability and health issues.

Karl Iñiego, a service delivery consultant, attributes his weight-loss success to understanding his diet program. He shed so much weight that his clothing size went from “large” to “small” in several months. “Pick a diet plan you can actually follow, and always monitor your progress,” he advises.

Flores also adds that there is no definitive diet program. “Each individual has his or her own pace and needs. The key is moderation, variation and balance.”

Enlist support

A common reason people have a hard time dieting is that they feel they are doing it alone. It gets harder to commit when temptations abound, like when your colleagues order pizza during a meeting.

Andrew Varona did his diet program with his wife. “It was easier to support each other [when] we were both into it,” he said. “We could stock the house with the right food and prepare meals together, helping each other stick to the program.” Now both husband and wife are at their respective proper body mass indices and are able to keep the weight off.

Support systems are critical to long term weight loss. It’s helpful to share your highs and lows, and tips or strategies with others who can relate to your situation.

Exert effort

“My clients have to work hard to achieve their desired body or be in their desirable body weight. They also need to incorporate exercise in their daily regimen,” said Flores. There is no diet program that doesn’t require effort from the dieter, so you should be ready to exert the effort needed.

Iñiego said his program was a success because he stuck to it. “No matter what I've felt, I always [reminded myself] that I chose to go on this diet and that I was willing to go through it no matter what.”

Aside from being determined, physical effort or exercise can also help you to achieve your weight loss goals faster. Experts advise regular aerobic physical activity such as walking, biking or swimming for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. Ideally, everyone should try to exercise 30 to 45 minutes, five days a week.

For more tips on keeping those diet resolutions, grab a copy of the holiday issue of HealthToday magazine from the nearest bookstore or newsstand.

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