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12 Important Diet Questions Answered!

Dr. Stephen Butler on WADK Leslie Stefanowicz, NP on WADK
WADK: Newport, Rhode Island

"Why do diets fail?"
"Can I eat chocolate?"
"What is the best exercise?"

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  1. Explain the concept behind

    Click to play MP3 Steve: We are Family Practitioners, and we have designed our diet to address problems we hear over and over from our patients in the medical clinic. The problem with the majority of diet plans is that most plans require that people measure food. In general, people do not measure food; we simply eat foods that are easy to prepare. Also, most people eat the same kinds of foods, over and over. In other words, our eating habits don't change much from week to week. The diets our patients were on before they tried required that they measure food, or thought about "exchanges" that they weren't used to thinking about. We decided to design our diet around ordinary foods, avoiding recipes and showing people how to create a nutritious, low-calorie meal. The photographs remind people how their plate should look. I cannot overstate the significance of this. When people first look through the 90 days of photographs, something begins to click. I've heard people say, over and over, "Do I eat like this?" and, by and large, most people don't, and that's why they have a weight problem.

  2. Are your diets appropriate for everyone?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: Our diets have been reviewed by registered dieticians and certified diabetes educators for accuracy and to make sure that the calculations are correct. Our programs are based on portion control and healthy food selections, so people will recognize everything they see as food they already have at home, and this makes the programs appropriate for almost everyone. People who have a health condition should always check with their doctor first, and our diets do not take the place of a good nutritional counselor.

  3. Why do most diets fail?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: Most diets fail because people are asked to change something fundamental in the way that they relate to food and meal preparation. A new diet will often require people to eat unusual foods, take a supplement, or prepare their meals differently from the way they are used to eating. We have found that people will only accept changes in the way they eat for a short time, and then their old habits come back, and the diet fails. The key to a successful diet is to stay with the foods you are used to eating, and learn to adjust the size of the portion. Eating frequent, small meals and snacks and choosing low-fat food items will result in successful weight loss.

  4. What happens if I do not like some of the food in your diet program?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: Our photographic diets are designed as a teaching tool to help people learn about portion control. We have calculated the calories and fat grams for each meal, as well as the protein and sodium content for other diets we have developed, so that people could compare their food selections with ours, if they need to exchange some items. We encourage people to use these photographs and food choices as guidelines, and then take these images and apply them to their own, personal food choices.

  5. How can I eat a healthy diet when I'm traveling or working away from home, all day?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: We suggest planning ahead as much as possible and preparing yourself to eat frequent, small portions when you are away from home. If you're traveling on a business trip, or on a vacation with your family, pay attention to your food choices and eat a low-calorie meal full of fruits and vegetables. If you have a long commute to work in an office or a job site far from home, then pack a cooler with snacks and a small lunch, and this will help you to stay on track.

  6. Is it okay to eat chocolate?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: Chocolate and other desserts are fine in small portions. There's no nutritional value in candy, and if you read the labels and the calories and fat grams, they'll surprise you. But if you find you need to eat some chocolate, choose dark chocolate, and only eat a small amount each day.

  7. What type of exercise do you recommend?

    Click to play MP3 Steve: The important thing to know about exercise is that you get out of it what you put into it. You'll lose weight faster and feel better if you exercise consistently and hard. With this in mind it's up to you to choose a type of exercise that you enjoy, and that fits you. Many health care providers recommend having an exercise machine of some kind at home, and we recommend the recumbent stationary cycle to our patients. This machine in particular allows you to sit and pedal, and it's easy on the back and the knees. The recumbent stationary cycle focuses on working the muscles in your legs, and will get your heart rate up quickly. Exercise machines mean that you will exercise at a consistent rate, and you don't have to worry about weather conditions outside to get your workout in.

  8. What are some of the common mistakes most people make when they're trying to diet?

    Click to play MP3 Leslie: A common mistake is that people are often so desperate to lose weight that they set very high expectations for themselves, and then become frustrated when the weight doesn't come off. If your new diet doesn't make good on its promises then people figure, "What's the use?" and go back to their old way of eating. Losing weight by accepting healthy lifestyle changes and preparing yourself to make these changes permanent will help you to focus on the long-term goal instead of the short-term ones. Another mistake people make is they don't burn enough calories each day to help accelerate their weight loss. Exercise is hard work, and consists of more than just walking the dog or chasing after the kids. We advise our patients to find an exercise that they enjoy and gets their heart rate up, and make this part of their daily weight loss strategy.

  9. Why is exercise so important to successful weight loss?

    Click to play MP3 Leslie: Losing weight by simply cutting calories is a very slow process. When you spend calories by exercising, you accelerate your weight loss and improve other aspects of your health. Exercise also helps you to focus on long term health goals instead of worrying about the number on your bathroom scale. The weight will come off faster, but you will also feel better about yourself, and build a stronger body when you work out.

  10. What are some tips for dining out and not blowing your entire diet?

    Click to play MP3 Leslie: We recommend paying attention to your portion sizes when you are eating. Our diets will give you a visual image of what a healthy portion size is supposed to look like, and you can use this information when you are looking at your plate at a restaurant. Don't skip the foods you love just pay attention to what you are eating and how much. If you find that you have overeaten, then try to exercise extra hard the next day to compensate for the excess calories. When you are faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet, or an extra large dinner serving, ask yourself if you really need all that food. If the answer is no, then plan to take some home.

  11. How can someone be on a diet and eat with their family without having to prepare a separate meal for themselves?

    Click to play MP3 Leslie: A successful diet plan should allow you to eat all of the same foods you serve to your family. Pay attention to the amount of food that you eat, and use common sense. Rather than focusing on percentages of carbohydrates and proteins, or the glycemic index of the food you are eating, just worry about the volume of food on your plate and make good choices. Analyzing the components of your diet is great, but unless you are a nutritionist, or a professional athlete, your job is just to keep your diet simple and familiar.

  12. Why is losing weight so difficult?

    Click to play MP3 Leslie: Most of the medical studies indicate that there are at least three components to meaningful weight loss. The first is to reduce the amount of calories and fat grams in your diet. The second is that to stay healthy, the body has to exercise hard, several times a week. Remember that burning calories is hard work and can seem difficult, especially at first. The third factor is giving the process time. Don't get discouraged and give up, and don't cheat. Losing weight does not happen overnight, so keep working at it.