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Healthy Living: Five Tips for a Thinner You

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Have no fear, or guilt, experts on diet and fitness say. More than half of people who start New Year's diets have veered from their original goals by now. It's nearly inevitable.

Perhaps the biggest problem is starting a diet to begin with, many researchers, dietitians and nutritionists said. They advise people to avoid the word "diet" because it conveys deprivation, negativity and a temporary approach to a permanent change.

"I don't like that term," said Dr. Donald Hensrud, editor of "Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight." "People need to know it's not about weight; it's about health."

The important thing to do now is to stick with a realistic program, have a support system and allow yourself room for error, experts said. And think about not using that four-letter word. Here are some tips to keep you on track: 1 LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT A loss of 5 percent to 7 percent of one's body weight might not mean a lot to your mind, but it means a lot to your body. That amount of loss has these benefits: > Reduces the chance of getting diabetes by 58 percent > Reduces chances of developing sleep apnea > Improves bone density > Improves quality of sleep > Can lower blood pressure > Improves joints by relieving pressure, minimizes back pain and other discomforts > Gives more vitality and energy 2 LOW-CARB CRAZE OR LOW-CARB PHASE?

It's become nearly impossible to go to a social gathering and not notice that someone is chowing down on all the foie gras but skipping the rice pilaf. Low-carb diets are behind all that, and they are everywhere. Do they really work? Short term, yes.

But are they the way to long-term, sustained weight loss? Probably not, experts said. According to the National Weight Control Registry, of the 4,000 people who have lost 30 pounds and kept it off at least a year, very few adopted a low-carb lifestyle to do it. 3 BODY MASS INDEX Are you really overweight? A good assessor of health and weight is body mass index. A BMI of 19 to 24.9 is considered healthy; a BMI of 25 to 29.9 means a person is overweight; and a BMI over 30 is considered obese.

To determine your body mass: 1. Multiply your weight, in pounds, by .45. E.g., 200 pounds x .45= 90 2. Multiply your height, in inches, by .025. E.g., 6 feet tall, or 72 inches, x .025= 1.8 3. Square the answer from question 2. 1.8 x 1.8 =3.24 4. Divide the answer from question 1 by the answer from question 3. 90/3.24= 27.7

This person is overweight. 4 LEARN LABELS

Nutritionists stress the need for consumers to know how to translate food labels. An important first step is simply to make sure that your servings are the size of the servings on the label, said Dr. Karen Miller Kovach, chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers. For example, many beverage serving sizes are based on 8 ounces. People routinely drink 20 ounces, or two and a half times the serving size. Other label facts to know (from "Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight"): > Light: means different things for different ingredients. For fat, it means 50 percent less fat than a comparable product. For calories: 33 percent fewer calories and contains fewer than 50 percent of calories from fat. For sodium: contains at least 50 percent less sodium and is low in calories and fat. > Reduced: contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient. > Free: contains none or inconsequential amounts of the nutrient > Low: like light, means different things for different ingredients. For fat: Contains 3 grams or fewer. For cholesterol: contains 20 milligrams or fewer and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat. For saturated fat: contains 1 gram or less. For sodium: contains 140 milligrams or fewer. For calories: contains 40 calories or fewer. > High: contains at least 20 percent of the recommended daily value for a nutrient. > Good source: contains 10 percent to 19 percent of the recommended daily value. Sources: Duke Diet and Fitness Center, the Mayo Clinic, Rodale Press, National Weight Control Registry and staff research.

Copyright 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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