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Changing Your Mindset: A Moderate Route

separator One thing's for sure: going on one diet after another, losing weight and gaining it back, isn't going to help you in the long run. In fact, this so called "yo-yo dieting" has the opposite effect. When you severely restrict your food intake, your body tries to protect against starvation. Your metabolism slows down as your body tries to conserve energy. Calories burn more slowly. Then, when you get sick of your diet and start eating more food, your body gains weight more easily. It's a vicious cycle.

Changing the way you think about food is a good way to get yourself on a healthy track. The only way to succeed in maintaining weight loss is to find a healthy way of eating that you can live with over the long term. Not a diet, but a way of life.

Taking a more moderate approach can help:

Change your expectations about feeling satisfied. Most of us have been fortunate enough to have plenty of food available to us. There's an abundance of food, and we eat it because it's there. So we get used to that stuffed feeling, and come to equate that with feeling satisfied.

Read food labels to get a sense of how much to eat and nutrients available. You don't have to go crazy with the numbers, but food labels can really help you. They can give you an idea about healthy portion sizes, how much fiber you're getting, vitamins and minerals, etc.

Recognize if problems with food are about more than food, and get treatment. In our culture, it's easy to have distorted thinking about body image. Obesity rates are higher than ever, but eating disorders are also a major health concern. If you feel obsessive about food, talk with your doctor, nutritionist or a therapist. Eating disorders are dangerous and need immediate treatment.

Make small changes, especially at first. It can be overwhelming if your plan is to reach a super-model ideal. A more realistic goal is to get yourself to the point where your risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are not increased because of weight. Moderate changes can lower your risk dramatically. If you're overweight but not obese, simply waking 30 minutes a day and losing 15 pounds may be all it takes to lower your risk of health problems.

On the other hand, if you're severely overweight to the point that your health is affected, it's time to talk with your doctor and make a plan for lowering your risk of serious health problems down the road.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Journal of the American Medical Association, 12 December 2001.
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