Losing Weight

Creating a healthy weight loss plan is not much different than a healthy eating plan for someone who doesn’t need to lose weight. You will need to eat fewer calories than you are used to. You will still want to eat a variety of foods and include a lot of fruits, vegetables, and grains. But you won’t necessarily have to eat less food. One way to lose weight is to cut down on the fat in your diet. Each gram of fat in your diet provides twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate.

To get started, think about substituting some of the fat in your diet with these low-fat, nutrient-rich foods:

  •   Bread. Bread, especially whole-grain varieties, is filling, low fat, and nutritious. Good, fresh bread doesn’t need any topping. Stick with whole-grain breads, English muffins, bagels, and pita bread. Steer clear of muffins and crackers, which often have a lot of added fat.
  •   Pasta. Like bread, pasta is filling, versatile, and nutritious. Whether you make your own or buy prepared noodles, avoid those made with eggs and added fat. Keep track of your portion sizes. You can make a good-tasting pasta with semolina flour and water.
  •   Other grains. Try wheat, rice, bulgur, millet, couscous, and barley. Or get adventurous and go for quinoa and amaranth. They can be used as additives in soups and casseroles, topped with vegetables, or eaten as dishes in their own right.
  •   Beans. Beans are high-fiber, low-fat protein sources that can be used in soups and casseroles, combined with rice, used as a salad topping, or eaten by themselves.
  •   Potatoes. The potato has lots of fiber and vitamins and no fat. Try topping a baked potato with a tablespoon of fat-free yogurt or sour cream or low-fat cottage cheese. Sprinkle with herbs for added flavor. Steamed vegetables or salsa make great toppings for a baked potato. Butter or sour cream can add significantly to the calorie level.
  •   Dark, leafy vegetables. Spinach, chicory, sorrel, Swiss chard, and even dandelion and turnip greens are rich in vitamins with no fat. The darker the color, the more vitamins the vegetable usually has.
  •   Cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale are rich in vitamins and high in antioxidants, substances that may protect against heart disease and certain cancers.
  •   Fruits. Most fruits, especially those high in vitamin C, such as grapefruit, oranges, and papayas, are low in calories and fat and high in fiber. Skip avocados-they’re full of fat. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about eating grapefruit and Seville oranges. They interfere with drugs such as statins, calcium channel blockers, birth control pills, transplant medications, and some heart medications.
  •   Fat-free milk. Fat-free milk and products made from fat-free milk have most of the fat removed, making it a good low-fat protein source.

As you plan your weight loss program, think ahead to keeping your new weight.  Many people are successful in losing weight but have a hard time keeping it off. What are the strategies used by people who take it off and keep it off? Studies show that exercise is an important part of both taking the pounds off and keeping them off. People who keep lost weight off say that daily exercise is an essential part of their lifestyle. They also report eating more fruits and vegetables than before, a healthy habit they hung on to even after they went off their “diet”.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

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