Slow and Steady Wins the Weight Loss Race

Why Does It Matter?

Obesity is associated with numerous medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. For example, people who are obese are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop diabetes than people who are not obese. Together, these conditions put people at risk for more serious health complications, such as a heart attack or stroke.
The costs of obesity and related health conditions are high. In 2008, the necessary healthcare treatment associated with obesity cost Americans $147 billion. In 2008, people who were obese spent about $1,500 more on healthcare costs than those who were considered normal weight.

How Can It Be Fixed?

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." -- Lao Tzu
In other words, Americans will have to change their lifestyles in order to combat the obesity epidemic plaguing our country. There is no doubt that change is difficult, and different behaviors can be hard to get used to. It is obvious that this epidemic did not occur overnight, however, and no one should expect it to turn around overnight either. A slow and steady transition may be the key for people to overcome being overweight or obese.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Many people think that healthy eating means giving up all of the foods you love. The good news is that this isn't true. Eating healthy is actually about eating a balanced diet and portion control.
Eating a balanced diet means eating foods from all of the food groups. The number of servings you need from each group will depend on your gender, age, and possibly other health conditions. Focus on getting plenty of fruits and vegetables of all different kinds. Lean meats and low-fat dairy products are also important. Most Americans have no trouble getting enough grains, like bread and pasta. When it comes to grains, try to make at least half of them whole grains. Try to limit sweets, fried foods, and sugary drinks like soda.
Making simple changes to your eating habits can make a huge difference in your diet. Let's say, for example, that you typically eat both halves of a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. Instead, try eating one half of a whole-wheat bagel with a cup of fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Maybe you usually drink three sodas every day. Try cutting back to just one soda every day and drinking water instead. Slowly making small changes like these will lead to a healthier diet overall.
Portion control is a major factor in eating healthy too. Many Americans simply eat too much. A simple way to eat smaller portions is to use a smaller plate at meal time. If you eat in the cafeteria at work, only purchase what you can carry in your hands. Using a meal tray makes it easy to grab more food than you can or should eat. When you choose foods for your plate, try to fill half of your plate with fruits and/or veggies. Reserve the other half for lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.
No two people are created equal, so everyone will have different dietary needs, especially if you have other health conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider about a diet that is appropriate for you. He or she can help you develop a healthy eating plan, or they can refer you to a dietician or nutritionist who can also help.
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