Dear Cherokee Choices,
There is so much information in the media on quick weight loss diets and fad quick fixes for your health. I’m fed up with people trying to sell me products/information I don’t need. What is the most important thing to focus on when trying to lose weight and be healthier?
Dear Fed Up,
There are approximately 108 million people on diets in the United States, producing an annual revenue of $20 Billion for the weight loss industry including diet books, diet drugs and weight-loss surgeries. This is important to reflect on before you buy your next diet pill or believe everything you read. Make sure your source is from a Registered Dietitian and it is evidence based. Following this simple acronym can help you make better food choices: Less CRAP, More FOOD!
Carbonated Drinks– 1 in 3 Americans drink at least one soda a day, according to recent data from the CDC. These drinks are a major source of added sugar and can contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Opt for water flavored with fresh fruit instead!
Refined Sugars– Sugar is added to lots of foods- even foods that are already sweet! Try and look at the ingredient list and find food products that don’t contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The majority of sugar intake should come from natural sources like fruit.
Artificial Sweeteners– Research is mixed on whether artificial sweeteners cause health problems including diabetes, cancer, and weight gain. However, the best policy is to minimize fake sugar intake. Stick with small amounts of natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
Processed and Fast Foods– Choose natural whole foods that don’t come in a package. Avoid resorting to typical fast food and instead make your own on-the-go options like carrots and hummus or an English muffin breakfast sandwich.
Fruits and Vegetables– Eat lots of vegetables and some fruits to give your body important vitamins and minerals. Try and incorporate a vegetable into each meal. Bonus points if you can fit them into snacks!
Optimal Lean Protein– Opt for lean protein options like turkey, chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy. Protein helps keep us full and build healthy hair, skin, and muscles! Aim to consume a 3-ounce portion (the size of a deck of cards) at each meal.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids– Fat is important in our diets…as long as it’s the right kind! Omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation in the body as well as the risk of chronic disease. Foods high in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, chia seeds, and soybeans.
Drink More Water– A general rule of thumb for water intake is to take your bodyweight and divide by 2- this is the minimum amount of water in ounces you should be drinking a day! Carry a water bottle with you to class so that hydration is always at your fingertips.
Sources: Catherine Beck, MS, WCU Dietetic Intern, Adapted from Dr. Peggy Malone, revised by Robin Callahan, RD,LDN, MHS, Data source John LaRosa of MarketData; National Weight Control Registry