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Healthy eating better solution than dieting

Misty Fandel
Staff Reporter

While a common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, health experts say cutting food altogether isn’t the best solution.

Before getting too involved, there’s a safer way to keep off those pesky pounds without trying the latest, greatest diet.

A better way to lose weight is to eat healthy all year round and add moderate exercise.

Eating healthy and dieting may sound alike, but they are actually quite different. Unlike healthy eating, which involves taking in only as many calories and nutrients as one needs, dieting is about restricting calories and even food groups.

According to Craig Zoellner, instructor of Health and Nutrition at NIACC, cutting out food groups is never a good idea.

“It’s important to get nutrients from all five food groups at each meal,” Zoellner said.

Some use diets as a short-term solution to a weight problem.

“Diets are meant to be short, quick fixes,” Ron Osterholm, health director for the Cerro Gordo County Public Health, said. “Not for long-term weight loss.”

Diets that restrict certain food groups often times make food seem bad which can lead to eating disorders.

These restrictive diets can set an individual up for failure in the future.

Even if one is able to lose weight on a diet, he or she probably won’t keep it off. Studies show that most people who lose weight on a diet eventually gain it back and then some.

This often leads to a dangerous cycle of gaining and losing weight, known as “yo-yo dieting.”

“Done right, dieting can bring the body back to a balance,” Osterholm said. “But as soon as the body is balanced, eating healthy should be a priority.”

Everyone should worry about eating healthy, Osterholm said. However, eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of one’s diet.

“Make changes slowly,” Zoellner said. “You should make the diet fit your lifestyle.”

Simple changes can include eating fewer sugary snacks and beverages like pop and concentrated juices.

Portion size should also be a focus of those trying to lose weight.

“A serving of grains should be about the size of your fist, and protein servings should be about the size of your hand,” Edna Oakley, a registered dietitian in Mason City, said

While that may sound like a drastic change from a regular portion, Oakley said one can gradually cut back.

“Portion control can start as simply as not taking seconds,” Oakley said. “And work your way down from there.”

Eating healthy also means in restaurants as well, according to Oakley.

“Ordering a salad with light dressing is usually a safe choice for eating out,” Oakley said. “And of course drinking water instead of pop or other beverages is always better.”

Healthy eating is a simple change that can have lasting effects on one’s health.

Eating healthy and getting needed nutrients can improve overall wellness.

Getting an adequate amount of needed nutrients can improve one’s mood and help build muscles and bones.

So, whether you’ve already started your new diet or still working yourself up to it, health experts advise to keep these guidelines in mind.