Sensible Dieting Can Help Your Overall Health

Fad diets come and go. The key to a healthier weight and to reaping the benefits of weight loss is a long-term commitment to better eating.
Author: Matt McMillen

Shedding excess weight has numerous benefits. For one, it will help lighten the load placed on your joints. That reduced stress could mean fewer joint bleeds, decreased inflammation and less pain. Additional benefits of achieving and maintaining your ideal weight include a drop in your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Healthy ways to lose fat

To lose weight in a healthy way, pick an eating plan full of nutritious foods, make sure you’re staying physically active and avoid fad diets like the paleo, Whole30 and ketogenic diets.

“Fad diets often focus on the wrong types of food or unnecessarily limit the types of foods that you’re allowed to eat,” says Tina Willis, MA, RD, a registered dietitian at the Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center.

Following the paleo diet, for example, means saying no to good-for-you whole grains, like whole-wheat bread, brown rice and quinoa. Such diets also usually make dubious health claims based on little research.

Instead, consider two less restrictive, nutrient-packed and flavorful diets: the Mediterranean and the DASH (short for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, or high blood pressure). Both encourage you to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and other unprocessed foods that contain significantly less salt and unhealthy fats than a typical American diet. Both also limit red meat in favor of poultry and fish. “These are the diets I like best,” Willis says.

Fad diets promise quick fixes. Don’t believe it. Long-term benefits require a long-term commitment to better eating. That won’t be easy, but you can do it.

How to start a diet and stick to it

First, talk with the dietitian at your hemophilia treatment center or a nearby hospital. Together, you can tailor your revised eating plan to your goals and your health concerns.

Adapting to your new diet of smaller portions and possibly unfamiliar foods probably will cause some stress. Unless you relieve that pressure, it will become increasingly difficult to stay on track. So plan for the occasional indulgence, such as a piece of cake at a party or dinner out with family or friends.

“But keep splurges to one or two small ones a week,” Willis says. “Any more may obliterate all your other efforts.”

Be prepared for setbacks. Willis says you should expect to fall off the healthy-eating wagon on occasion. That’s normal, and it doesn’t obliterate all the efforts you’ve made. “It happens, and it will likely happen more than once,” she says. “Acknowledge it, own it and then get back on track ASAP.”

Involve your family. Lean on those around you when you need help bolstering your healthy eating habits. And then do the same for them, says Willis: “When one person is down, another can lift them up.”

How to stay motivated to eat healthy

Write down why you want to eat well and lose weight. When you waver, look at your list. To start you off, Willis offers these motivators:

  • Having healthier joints and fewer bleeds
  • Having more energy to play with your kids or grandkids
  • Being able to participate in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fitting in your favorite pair of jeans again
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