Does counting calories work? It’s a useful tool for some, and an exercise in frustration for many. While the title of a new piece from The Economist is a bit sensationalized, it does a good job of explaining some of the factors behind why calorie counting alone may not be adequate to achieve weight loss. Is calorie counting going to go away? No, because as a colleague commented to me when we were discussing this article, calorie counting is the best we’ve got. Want to learn more? Here’s the article: https://www.economist.com/news/2019/03/16/death-of-the-calorie
Yogurt is a popular food in many cultures, and a recent research review suggests it may be even more beneficial for older individuals than previously thought. As we age, our immune systems weaken, but it appears that probiotics like yogurt may provide a short term boost to our immune cells. The practical implications of this research need to be investigated, but pretty soon the saying may be a yogurt a day keeps the doctor away! Here’s the full study: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718307978
Do you start a new project like a diet or a workout routine with lots of energy and enthusiasm only to have your zeal for the project wane within a matter of weeks or months? Well, you may need to focus on perseverance rather than motivation. This piece from The Forged Life explains why motivation is overrated and why grit and perseverance are our real friends when it comes to meeting our goals. Check it out! www.theforgedlife.com/perseverance
Did you know that certain types of cancer are associated with obesity? In fact, there are twelve types of cancer that have been linked to obesity. These include multiple myeloma as well as cancers of the kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, colon, rectum, and uterus. Most alarmingly, these cancers are most on the rise among adults between the ages of 25-49. American Cancer Society researchers noted this correlates with increased incidence of obesity among the same population. To learn more, check out this article from the Harvard School of Public Health: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2019/02/04/incidence-of-obesity-related-cancers-is-rising-in-younger-adults/
A recent study from Duke University suggests that the relative quantities of healthy food to junk food may affect the way we relate to those foods. Exposure to a comparable number of healthy and less healthy items generally drove people to choose the less healthy items, while somewhat counterintuitively, if a healthy item was surrounded by less healthy options, people tended to choose the healthier option. What does this mean? Try putting healthier items in your pantry in between the more indulgent ones and you may very well find yourself gravitating to the healthier ones. Read more here: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190109142629.htm
Frequent readers of this blog know that I typically find the way in which the media reports on nutrition research to be lacking (and that’s putting it politely!). That’s why I was delighted to find this article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Not only does it discuss the fact that a study’s design and purpose inevitably affects it findings, but it discusses extensively the idea that there is no “right” diet for the general population. The dietary lifestyle that works for you is the one to which you adhere for the long term. Enjoy! www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/nutrition-research-this-year-shows-many-paths-to-wellbeing-20181217-p50mqd.html
I LOVE vacations, but I need to be really careful that I don’t allow vacation eating to turn into a new routine. Many of us tend to go all or nothing with our dietary habits, so we either stick to chicken and broccoli on vacation or we fall off the wagon completely. Many people also tend to bring their vacation habits back into their day to day lifestyles. None of these mentalities lead to long term success. If we are too rigid and don’t allow ourselves to enjoy life, especially on vacation, we burn out and usually end up right back where we started. If we allow ourselves to go crazy while away, we usually can’t flip a switch and get back to the behaviors that will promote our goals when we get home. Rather, we carry those vacation behaviors when we return to everyday life. There are a few things that can help you bring balance to vacation eating. First, aim for two meals that look like what you would eat at home eat day, and allow yourself to enjoy one without regrets. Second, be active! Try to be as active or more active than you are at home. If you are more active, those relaxed meals won’t matter so much. Third, if you are going to drink, make a deliberate choice each time you have a drink. Finally, plan your reentry, and make sure you have a couple of days worth of meals prepared at home (frozen is fine!) so that you can get back into your routine when you return.
Being with friends often helps us relax and forget about work or other things that may be weighing on our minds. In many instances, however, friendships revolve around food and drinks, particularly ones where the friendships are of long duration and the individuals have developed different goals, mindsets, and lifestyles as the years have passed. How do you maintain friendships and a social life while meeting your fat loss goals? One thing you can do is plan a different activity for the group rather than stick to meeting for dinner and drinks. If you cannot get people to buy in to that concept, eat beforehand and order something light, offer to be the designated driver, and offer to make the dinner reservation, choosing a place that you know will let you stick to your goals.
Our families usually want the best for us, but often times they don’t understand that what works for them may not work for us. They question why we want to do things differently than they do, don’t understand why the way they do things isn’t “good enough”, and sometimes are afraid that changes we make in our lives may not leave as much room for them as they would like. Add that that family traditions that usually involve food and grandma’s great cooking courtesy of a pound of butter used daily, and family gatherings can get tense. A few things can help. First, if you are not staying there, eat beforehand and limit yourself to small nibbles and servings of the things you truly love. Second, if you are staying over, offer to do the grocery shopping or help with cooking. This gives you greater control over ingredients and preparation methods. Third, offer to plate dinner or suggest serving the meal buffet style. This allows you to make your plate look how you want it to look, and to make the best choices you can. Finally, if people really push as to why you are eating differently, be sincere about your goals and motivation, and ask for support.
Amy Mariani is the owner of Fit & Fabulous LLC in Winchester, Massachusetts. She is also the nutrition coach at www.mountainstrength.com. Her mission is to help people eat healthy and love life.
Please note that you should consult with your physician prior to embarking on any major changes with regard to your nutrition. Unfortunately, absent authorization from a medical professional, we are unable to provide individualized nutrition coaching to anyone under the age of eighteen, or to persons with certain medical conditions. We are always happy to work with authorized medical professionals under these circumstances.