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It's this frustration that causes so many of us to yo-yo diet… until you've tested every diet out there. Is there a way to avoid diet hopping? Is there a simple solution to weight loss?
Simple solutions for weight loss
According to Timothy Caulfield, a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, simple solutions to weight loss have always been there, we just choose to ignore them.
In his book, The Cure for Everything! Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness, and Happiness, Caulfield undertakes his own journey to better health. With a Food Advisory Team to help plan out his daily eating regimen, Caulfield managed to shed 20 pounds over the course of several months.
When asked by friends and colleagues how he went from roughly 194 pounds to a svelte 175, Caulfield says he followed a healthy eating plan and simply "ate fewer calories."
"You just have to think about the ways you can fit that healthy meal into your everyday life," he says.
1. Watch your caloric intake
Calories play a huge role in the weight loss process. Most of us already know how it works: In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. This means being vigilant about how many calories you absorb per day.
You don't need many calories to do perform daily tasks, Caulfield says. The average adult should take in around 1800 to 2200 calories a day. The best way to maintain this caloric intake is to stop eating large portions.
Page 1 of 3 -- Do you love to dine out but hate the extra calories? Check out our expert tips on avoiding large portion sizes at restaurants on page 2.
How to eat smaller portions
Eating smaller portions is a well-known, helpful tip when calorie counting, but how can we do this when we're surrounded by large portion sizes and ads taunting us with delicious (but no-so-healthy) food choices? The answer is quite simple: Avoid restaurant entrées, give up junk food and steer clear of caloric beverages.
"We're huge eating machines, but we have a terrible sense of how many calories are in food," Caulfield says. "At restaurants, we underestimate by as much as 100 per cent. So if we think something's 400 calories, it's probably 800 calories."
Since his own weight loss, Caulfield has rarely ordered a restaurant entrée, sticking instead to healthy appetizers he can share with his dining companions.
"Going to a restaurant should be about enjoying yourself with others," he says. "Not about getting full on food."
When dining out, Caulfield also follows his own advice and wards off calorie-heavy products found in fast food restaurants -- like soda. And at home, he and his wife have a firm "no pop" rule. "Pop is an evil -- it's got no nutritional value and a huge amount of calories," he says.
As a believer in eating rather than drinking your calories, Caulfield also suggests staying away from fruit juices. "They're just liquid calories and they aren't as satiating. You don't feel as full even though you've absorbed just as many calories as you would from actual fruit," he says. "Some juices even have as many calories as an entire meal."
2. Adapt to eating healthy foods
You already know what foods are good for you: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meat, etc. And you're well aware of what foods are bad for you, so why not replace the bad with the good?
"The basics of a healthy diet have been known for a really long time," Caulfield says. "Unfortunately, so few Canadians eat anywhere close to the realm of a healthy diet."
That's partly because we're told we can eat whatever we want as long as we exercise, Caulfield says. But our diet is 80 per cent of the weight loss equation and burning off high calorie foods like pizza and donuts on the treadmill just isn't possible, unless you want to spend hours in the gym.
Page 2 of 3 -- While adapting a healthy lifestyle for himself, Caulfield also got his kids eating healthy. Find out how he did it on page 3.
How to get your family to eat healthy
We're also tempted by unhealthy cravings. Caulfield himself admits in his book that he had trouble resisting M&M's. It took months of healthy eating, but he has now reached a point where he rarely craves any of the "junk" he used to eat.
In an attempt to encourage healthy habits in his children, Caulfield changed their usual afternoon snack of crackers and cheese to a bowl of fresh vegetables.
"They whined about it in the beginning," he says. "But now, they're great. They've completely adapted to eating healthy -- I never hear them complaining about it."
Simply put, if you get used to eating the right foods, your body will eventually stop craving the wrong ones.
3. Your diet is not short term
If you've regained the weight you lost, ask yourself why. Did your diet fail you? Or did you unknowingly give up on your diet? Perhaps you stopped keeping track of what you ate, not realizing that those irksome pounds could easily come back.
Weight loss is possible with just about all diets, but they tend to fall apart as people increase their caloric intake after they've lost some weight, says Caulfield.
"We're talking about a lifestyle change. That's the magic solution," he says. "Aside from watching what you eat and how much you eat, in order to successfully lose weight, you need to make a lifelong commitment to healthy eating."
You don't have to avoid your favourite foods all together. Find healthier, low-calorie alternatives to satiate your cravings. It's okay to indulge every now and then, but remember your diet is not a short-term plan. Keep control of your weight by being consistent with your healthy eating habits.
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