The Do’s and Don’ts of Dieting

by David Webster
(Hong Kong)

Dieting can help you to feel good about yourself, have more energy, and become healthier. However, some things you can do may make you feel worse and sabotage your success.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of dieting

Don’t weigh yourself every day.
While you may feel tempted to look at the scale on a daily basis, you may become frustrated when you see an extra pound on the display. It’s normal to fluctuate because of factors like water retention and hormonal fluctuations.

Do weigh yourself weekly.
Weighing yourself once a week at about the same time will give you a better picture of your progress.

Don’t buy into “fat-free” promises.
While you may feel like fat-free foods give you free reign to eat as much as you want, fat-free foods still contain calories. Don’t go crazy with these snacks.

Do eat foods that are full of nutrients. 
The best foods for snacking are those that provide your body with the things it needs. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are great sources of energy and nutrition. They also help to keep you feeling satisfied.

Don’t compare yourself to others. 
It’s very tempting to look at your own weight loss and compare it to that of someone else. However, your body is unique and you may be left feeling disappointed if your weight loss doesn’t match up to someone else’s.

Do look at your own progress.
The only person who you need to worry about is you when it comes to dieting. Make sure to look at your own progress. Keep track of the inches you’ve lost, the pounds you’ve lost, and your change in clothing size. These will help to motivate you to keep going.

Do consider factors besides weight loss. 
While the major focus of dieting is often weight loss, you need to look at other factors that can help motivate you to continue. For example, do you feel more energy and less fatigue?

Do you have fewer aches and pains?
Are you noticing a change in the frequency of nausea or heartburn? These are all very important factors for your overall health that can improve with diet.

Dieting Issues for Men

When it comes to dieting, women and men sometimes have a different set of setbacks. For men, there are some specific issues to consider and combat.

Salty cravings

While women tend to crave sweet foods, men tend to have cravings for foods that are high in salt and fat. For example, nachos, wings, chips, and salty peanuts are often temptations for men.

These foods can really keep you from getting the weight loss that you’re seeking on your diet program. There are a couple of strategies that can help with the salt cravings. One method is to prepare your favorite foods in low-sodium, low-fat versions.

If you absolutely must have a serving of your favorite nachos loaded with salt and fat, stick to smaller portions. Finally, if you have a day where you eat a lot of extra salt, drink a lot of extra water to help flush it out of your system so that you won’t retain water.

When you start eating a diet that’s lower in sodium, eventually these cravings will die down. So take a break from the salt for a while, and you’ll see the cravings become more manageable.

Social gatherings

Social gatherings for men often involve a lot of salty foods and the presence of alcohol. Alcohol is another substance that can really make dieting difficult. It causes you to feel hungrier and slows down your loss of fat.

If you can avoid alcohol altogether, it will be better for your diet. But if that’s too much for you, you can try to slow down your consumption.

After you have an alcoholic beverage, have a glass of water before you drink another. This will slow down your alcohol consumption and help you to feel full.

Men tend to exercise with the goal of bulking up. In that case, you may find that you’re putting on pounds instead of losing them.

However, it’s okay to be putting on muscle mass because eventually it will help you to lose the weight you want to lose.

Don’t forget to add some aerobic activity to your routine. It will help you to burn fat faster so that you can see those hard-earned muscles.

Dieting Issues for Women

While both men and women share many aspects of dieting, there are some issues that are specific to women. These issues can make it difficult to stick to your plan, but becoming aware of them can help you to develop strategies to deal with possible setbacks.

Hormonal changes. 
Women have the unique experience of dealing with changes in the menstrual cycle. Dealing with PMS can cause increases in cravings, water retention, and make you feel like you simply can’t deal with your diet.

Being aware of your cycle can help you to plan ahead for these problems and temptations. For example, if you know that you’re going to have a few pounds of extra water weight at a specific time of the month, you can stay off the scales for a few days.

If you have specific foods you crave, you can also plan for that. One way to battle your chocolate cravings is to try dark chocolate. It can satisfy your craving for chocolate, but because it’s very rich you can’t eat a lot of it at once.

Social issues. 
Women are notorious for holding social gatherings that are centered on food. And often those foods aren’t the healthiest of choices. You can combat that by bringing your own healthier choices or hosting a part with a health-conscious theme.

It’s also a good idea to try to have gatherings where food isn’t the focus. Try going to performances, museums, or having a game night where the snacks are the sideline, not the main event.

Satisfying your sweet tooth.
For women, sweet snacks are often the most tempting. Cookies, cakes, chocolate, and other candy can be the hardest thing to let go of. Many women try to deal with this by choosing fat-free snacks that are still high in sugar.

Instead, try to eat snacks such as fruit and protein that give you energy, but don’t have the processed sugars that make those cravings worse. After a while of not having a lot of sugar, you’ll feel those cravings start to weaken.

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Updated: July 11, 2013 — 8:07 pm

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