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Health & Well Being Articles
Where Diets Go Wrong
The Positive Weight Loss Approach
Facts About the Smoking Habit
Live a Longer and Healthier Life
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Where Diets Go Wrong
by Nora Penia
Strictly speaking, diets don't fail,
people fail to stick with a diet. Following any reduced calorie diet will
result in weight loss. The problem is sticking with it. Unfortunately, most
diets have built-in failures which trip up the dieter.
Diets go wrong by being too restrictive.
Many conventional diets demand a fairly
low calorie intake in order to lose weight. They are based on a fairly
simple concept: in order to lose weight one must eat less. Although true,
for people who have a large amount of weight to lose, reducing their usual
daily intake by 1000 - 2000 calories a day is a depressing task. Such
dieters feel deprived before even starting a new diet.
Even for people with small amounts to
lose, cutting their usual intake from 2200 or 2500 to 1200 calories, can be
a shock to the system. A quick glance at any women’s magazine reveals at
least one sample menu for weight loss. Upon comparison, the amounts of food
seem very small and usually include uninteresting foods such as yogurt,
cottage cheese and chicken breasts.
Diets go wrong by
requiring the dieter to change the type of food eaten.
Humans are creatures of habit and
usually eat the same foods over and over. Granted, overweight folks are
eating too much of the wrong foods. But, in an effort to promote eating a
variety of healthy foods, conventional diets suggest new dishes which often
include exotic and hard to find foods or just plain boring foods. Using a
sample week’s menu of meals can result in buying unusual ingredients, using
a small amount for one recipe, then often wasting the rest.
Diets go wrong by making
it difficult to eat.
Most diets suggest using fresh foods,
cooked from scratch at home. This requires more meal planning, shopping and
preparation time. It’s easier and quicker to rely on fast food or
convenience foods. The drawback with fast food is in controlling exactly
what is eaten since the ingredients are not easily known. Even with the new
improved labeling on convenience foods, there’s no guarantee the totals at
the end of the day will be within healthy ranges. And who has the time to
But trying to eat less and prepare
strange new dishes can be discouraging. New recipes can take longer to
prepare, making it tempting to revert to old eating patterns and simply give
up. Eating at a favorite restaurant or at social gatherings is difficult at
best. The required food is not available and making substitutions is tricky.
Diets go wrong by feeling
like a punishment.
Diets require the reduced intake of
food, cutting out favorite foods, learning to like new foods, spending more
time planning and preparing food. All these changes can make the dieter feel
punished by the very process which is supposed to improve life.
However, people usually approach a diet
with the attitude: ‘this is just until I lose x number pounds.’ This is
where people fail diets. Any change required to lose weight will need to
continue after the pounds are gone. When dieters revert to old habits, the
weight creeps back on.
Diets go wrong by creating
a repeated failure record.
Every time a dieter fails at a diet,
stops trying and returns to old eating habits, the chances of succeeding at
the next attempt is reduced. The dieter becomes fatalistic about the
possibility of ever losing weight.
How to win the ‘diet’
The real answer to the shortcomings of
diets seems to be: eat the foods you are accustomed to, but reduce the
amount of everything eaten. Rather than learning new ways of cooking,
suffering through painful shopping trips for food you don’t like, spending
hours cooking and tracking the amounts eaten, simply fill your plate as
usual, put part of it back and eat the rest with a clear conscience.
A reduction of only 500 calories a day
will result in a weight loss of one pound a week which adds up over time.
(When was the last time you lost 52 pounds a year?) This approach
automatically cuts the amount of fat consumed as well as reducing the intake
of sodium, sugar and concentrated calories such as meat and carbohydrates.
So, rather than put yourself on a
‘diet,' make moderate changes. Omit one large snack or dessert, and all
second helpings each day. Eat a little less meat and high fat foods. Add a
salad or extra serving of ‘skinny’ vegetables every day, (you know which
ones.) Go for a walk after supper. Give it time.
And, never say ‘diet’ again.
Nora Penia is an educator and
writer. She has written one novel, as yet unpublished, and for over two
years has written for her own online magazine entitled
At the Fence, Relationships and
This article may be
used in any online media. Please contact Nora if you wish to publish this
article in traditional print media.
Live a Longer and Healthier
by Herlan Westra
An unexpected research
finding with great practical significance is that experimental animals live
longer with much lower rates of disease when they consume less than the
recommended daily allowance of calories. The finding is unexpected because
we associate less-than-optimal nutrition with poor growth and health, and
common sense tells us that we do better if we are well nourished. In fact,
most of us may be overnourished, and too much of a good thing may be doing
An adequate diet is one that provides
not only enough calories but also all of the nutrients necessary for
efficient metabolism without any excesses that promote disease. What
constitutes a good diet is a matter of controversy, and much of the
controversy is based on emotion rather than reason.
An average person needs less than 2,000
calories daily, with 300 to 400 of the calories coming from fat. Present
labeling laws are helpful in determining your caloric intake, but
maintaining your weight or losing weight is much more complicated. The FDA
supports two ways to diet: increase exercise and decrease the intake of
Dieting Can Make You Fat
That's it? The secret to a long and
healthy life is diet and exercise? Not really! Metabolism slows down during
a diet, and the body burns fewer calories, causing more fat to be stored as
a protection against extended "famine." When the food supply is restored,
the metabolism is slow to respond, and the body stores even more fat. In
humans, this yo-yo phenomenon is harmful - starvation diets simply fool the
body into starting a famine cycle. Once the diet is over, we are back to
where we started, or worse.
Granted, exercise programs help keep the
metabolism active, but most of us are about as committed to our exercise
programs as we are to our diets. We fall off the exercise program at the
same time we end the diet, increasing the yo-yo effect. Then how should we
combine dieting and exercise into a healthy life?
First we need to modify our diets,
lowering caloric content without greatly reducing the amount or the appeal
of food we consume. The best way of lowering caloric content is by cutting
the fat content in our diets. Fat has almost twice as many calories per gram
as protein and carbohydrate.
Second we need to restrict caloric
intake either by fasting or by eating a limited diet one day a week. Our
body's metabolism will not react quick enough to begin a "famine" cycle
during a one-day diet. Fasting should include plenty of liquids, with enough
fruit juices to maintain a minimum caloric intake. When fasting, reduce the
intake of supplemental vitamins and minerals, as some supplements may become
toxic if not consumed with adequate amounts of food.
Our bodies don't benefit from the food
we eat, but rather by what is digested, assimilated and eliminated. The food
is taken in, broken into smaller and smaller parts until it can be absorbed
and the by-products discarded. Enzymes digest all of our food and make it
small enough to pass through the intestines into the blood. Enzymes are a
part of every metabolic process in the body, from the working of our glands
to the proper functioning of our immune system. Enzymes require vitamins and
minerals to do their work.
Many manufactured vitamin and mineral
supplements, because they are fractionated (broken down into basic
elements), are treated as toxic waste in the body. Some minerals in an
unnatural form can accumulate and cause harmful effects. Fortunately, many
commercial vitamin and mineral supplements are so badly formulated that they
pass right through our digestive systems without breaking down and being
absorbed. Unfortunately, we haven't received the benefit that we paid for.
Many people are now using all-natural
herbal forms of vitamin and mineral supplements. Because these are in a
natural form, they are more easily absorbed than manufactured supplements.
They are also much less concentrated than manufactured supplements, and so
are often safer. However, it is always best to consult with your personal
physician before taking any nutritional supplement.
The proper supplements, combined with
proper diet and exercise, can help you live a longer and healthier life.
Herlan Westra is the editor of
Rhode Island Foghorn Online
Magazine, which provides information and entertainment for a
rapidly-growing audience nationwide. Herlan welcomes suggestions for future
Back to Main Health
Facts About Smoking
Most smokers sincerely want to quit.
They know cigarettes threaten their health, set a bad example for their
children, annoy their acquaintances and cost an inordinate amount of money.
Nobody can force a smoker to quit. It's
something each person has to decide for himself/herself, and will require a
personal commitment by the smoker. What kind of smoker are you? What do you
get out of smoking? What does it do for you? It is important to identify
what you use smoking for and what kind of satisfaction you feel that you are
getting from smoking.
Many smokers use the cigarette as a kind
of crutch in moments of stress or discomfort, and on occasion it may work;
the cigarette is sometimes used as a tranquilizer. But the heavy smoker, the
person who tries to handle severe personal problems by smoking heavily all
day long, is apt to discover that cigarettes do not help him/her deal with
his/her problems effectively.
When it comes to quitting, this kind of
smoker may find it easy to stop when everything is going well, but may be
tempted to start again in a time of crisis. Physical exertion, eating,
drinking, or social activity in moderation may serve as useful substitutes
for cigarettes, even in times of tension. The choice of a substitute depends
on what will achieve the same effects without having any appreciable risk.
Once a smoker understands his/her own
smoking behavior, he will be able to cope more successfully and select the
best quitting approaches for himself/herself and the type of life-style he
Because smoking is a form of addiction,
80 percent of smoker who quit usually experience some withdrawal symptoms.
These may include headache, light-headedness, nausea, diarrhea, and chest
pains. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, short-term depression, and
inability to concentrate, may also appear. The main psychological symptom is
increased irritability. People become so irritable, in fact, that they say
they feel "like killing somebody." Yet there is no evidence that quitting
smoking leads to physical violence.
Some people seem to lose all their
energy and drive, wanting only to sleep. Others react in exactly the
opposite way, becoming so over energized they can't find enough activity to
burn off their excess energy. For instance, one woman said she cleaned out
all her closets completely and was ready to go next door to start on her
neighbor's. Both these extremes, however, eventually level off. The
symptoms may be intense for two or three days, but within 10 to 14 days
after quitting, most subside. The truth is that after people quit smoking,
they have more energy, they generally will need less sleep, and feel better
Quitting smoking not only extends the
ex-smoker's life, but adds new happiness and meaning to one's current life.
Most smokers state that immediately after they quit smoking, they start
noticing dramatic differences in their overall health and vitality.
Quitting is beneficial at any age, no
matter how long a person has been smoking. The mortality ratio of ex-smoker
decreases after quitting. If the patient quits before a serious disease has
developed, his/her body may eventually be able to restore itself almost
The Positive Weight Loss
Once you have made up your
mind to lose weight, you should make that commitment and go into it with a
positive attitude. We all know that losing weight can be quite a challenge.
In fact, for some, it can be downright tough. It takes time, practice and
support to change lifetime habits. But it's a process you must learn in
order to succeed. It is said that if you do something for 21 days it will
become a habit. You and you alone are the one who has the power to lose
Think Like a Winner
Think like a winner, and not a loser - -
remember that emotions are like muscles and the ones you use most grow the
strongest. If you always look at the negative side of things, you'll become
a downbeat, pessimistic person. Even slightly negative thoughts have a
greater impact on you and last longer than powerful positive thoughts.
Negative thinking doesn't do you any
good, it just holds you back from accomplishing the things you want to do.
When a negative thought creeps into your mind, replace it reminding yourself
that you're somebody, you have self-worth and you possess unique strengths
Contemplate what lies ahead of you.
Losing weight is not just about diets. It's about a whole new you and the
possibility of creating a new life for yourself. Investigate the weight loss
programs that appeal to you and that you feel will teach you the behavioral
skills you need to stick with throughout the weight-loss process.
First you should look for support among
family and friends. It can be an enormous help to discuss obstacles and
share skills and tactics with others on the same path. You might look for
this support from others you know who are in weight loss programs and you
can seek guidance from someone you know who has lost weight and kept it off.
There are success stories across the
country today on television and in newspapers, magazines and tabloids about
people who have miraculously lost untold pounds and kept it off. In all
instances they say their mental attitude as well as their outlook on life
has totally changed.
Learning New Skills
Diets and weight loss programs are more
flexible now than they once were and there are many prepared foods already
portioned out. They are made attractive and can be prepared in a matter of
minutes. Low-fat and low-calorie foods are on shelves everywhere.
You will probably need to learn new,
wiser eating skills. You will want a weight loss regimen that gives you some
control, rather than imposing one rigid system. Look for one that offers a
variety of different eating plans, so you can choose the one that's best for
Keep in mind, too, that your weight loss
program will most likely include some physical exercises. Look at the
exercising aspect of your program as fun and recreation and not as a form of
grueling and sweaty work. The fact is that physical fitness is linked
inseparable to all personal effectiveness in every field. Anyone willing to
take the few simple steps that lie between them and fitness will shortly
begin to feel better, and the improvement will reflect itself in every facet
of their existence.
Doctors now say that walking is one of
the best exercises. It helps the total circulation of blood throughout the
body, and thus has a direct effect on your overall feeling of health. There
are things such as aerobics, jogging, swimming and many other exercises
which will benefit a weight loss program. Discuss the options with your
doctor and take his advice in planning your exercise and weight loss
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