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Healthy Oshkosh: Forget the fads and plan a healthy diet

We’ve all heard of them, the Cabbage Soup Diet, South Beach Diet, Lemonade Diet, 1 Day Diet, 3 Day Diet, Hollywood Diet Plan and many more.


If you have used or followed a fad diet, you are not alone. Fad diets came along in the mid-seventies and many of them circulate, renamed, every couple of years.

There is nothing “new” about the diets, and the truth is, fad diets don’t work to help you keep weight off long-term.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or plan. The key to losing weight is eating less than you burn. Simply put, move more and eat less.

“Just as a car needs good fuel and spark plugs to run, your body needs good fuel (calories) with spark (vitamins and minerals) to run properly as well,” said Kate Yonke, Tru-U registered dietitian for the Oshkosh YMCA, “To keep your engine running you need to find the right balance between protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as important vitamins and minerals.”

Typically, fad diets exclude food groups or necessary nutrients and you may be putting yourself at risk for getting sick. Instead of starting a fad diet where you will be counting down the days until you can stop why not start with small sustainable changes?

“Start with identifying your barriers to healthier living first,” said Yonke. “For example, do you eat breakfast? Do you have any color in your day (fruits and vegetables)? How many meals do you eat out? When are you most hungry? It is the answers to some of these basic questions that will pave the path that suits your unique life best and helps to keep you on that healthier path!”

Still don’t know where to start? Try to start with the beginning of your day. Make sure you eat breakfast. Then add color (fruits and/or vegetables) and a serving of nuts before lunch. Next, take the time to eat lunch which is a meal too many of us skip and once again focus on color, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Also try starting with exercise! Aim for at least 150 minutes or more per week. Sound easy? It can be!

If you find you are not able to stay away from those saturated and trans fats or eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day? How about simply starting with portion sizes and paying attention to hunger cues.

“Too many of us eat for reasons other than actual physical hunger, trying to be mindful when snacking and eat often,” Yonke said. “This results in consuming far less than if unconsciously shoveling it in because it is there or because they are feeling stressed, tired, or bored.”

When you find yourself questioning why you are eating, give yourself the apple test — ask yourself “would I eat an apple?” If the answer is yes, then you were physically hungry and you should eat.

If the answer is no, then you are psychologically or emotionally hungry and no amount of food that will ever satiate that appetite. If you answer “no” more often than “yes” you can find help from your local dietitian.

So, what does a healthy serving size look like?

A cup of fruit should be no larger than your fist, one ounce of meat or cheese is about the same size as your thumb from base to tip, three ounces of meat, fish or poultry is the size of your palm, and one to two ounces of nuts equals a cupped hand.

Try these simple tips for keeping portion control in check: serve meals on salad plates instead of dinner plates; store snack foods in tiny sandwich bags with one serving per bag; when out to eat, share your entrée with a friend; ask for a kids’ meal or small size in anything you order; fill up on fresh green salads, fruit and veggies before eating higher fat foods.

So, how can you lose weight and keep it off?

Steer clear of the fads and remember the key to successful weight loss is a permanent lifestyle change of healthy food choices and exercise habits. Reduce amount of empty calories (high fat and sugary foods and beverages) and increase calories burned through physical activity.

Molly Yatso Butz is the Community Health and Wellness Director for the Oshkosh Community YMCA.

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