Lincoln Co. Public Health: losing weight in the new year

Submitted by Riley Black, RN
County Health Nurse
This time of year is usually full of motivation for the average adult due to their New Years resolu-tions. About 41% of Americans make some form of resolution for the start of the year and you guessed it, the top resolu-tion is weight loss and self-improvement. Unfortu-nately, only about 8% of those will successfully reach their goals. I am here to give you some helpful and easy tips to make weight loss and good health permanent!
My first bit of advice for those trying to lose weight this year is don’t rely on a fad diet, weight loss products, or a magic pill solution… these con-sistently don’t work and only cost you money in the end. You may have heard of “fad diets” like the south beach, Atkins, paleo, or weight watchers. The promise of these di-ets is that you will lose weight quickly without exercise. It is typical when starting diets like these that you may lose a few pounds to start but then plateau or gain weight back after a while because you are not losing fat, you are losing water. This same thing goes for weight loss products like shakes, powders, or weight loss pills. These again, don’t promote health for your body be-cause they lack fiber, nu-trients, and essential vita-mins and instead are usu-ally full of additives, sweeteners, and other mystery ingredients claiming to promote weight loss.
It is estimated that about 70% of weight loss can be achieved by diet modification and the ad-ditional 30% by exercise.
Because our diets af-fect so much of our over-all health, including our weight, it is important we understand good and bad nutrition habits.
First off, the body needs carbohydrates, pro-teins, fats, vitamins/minerals, and water every day to function so cutting out one or several of these food groups to lose weight quickly is not healthy for your body.
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AAND) we need to eat a diet mostly consisting of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are breads and pastas made 100% of whole wheat flour. Other grains include quinoa, brown and wild rice’s, and whole oats and bran. The healthiest and most nutritious way to prepare these foods is by cooking and seasoning yourself. Packaged rice or pasta dinners have hidden un-healthy elements like salts, sugars, preserva-tives, and saturated fats and don’t have the good stuff like fiber. A good rule of thumb is, don’t eat it if it is out of a box.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the same holds true. Shop the edges of your supermar-ket not the aisles. This means, spend more time in your produce section selecting fresh green beans and not in the aisle picking the canned ones. Canned foods don’t pro-vide the same nutrition as the whole foods that you cook yourself, and are often high in salt and sug-ar content. Avoid canned fruits and vegetables. However, frozen options can be very healthy and make good substitutes. It is important when select-ing frozen fruits and vege-tables that you check the label to make sure there isn’t any added salt or sugar.
Other easy changes that can make a big im-pact on your weight and overall health include substituting foods for more nutritious options. If you use sour cream in your cooking, trying using Greek yogurt instead. Pick low sodium chicken or beef stock options, cut out fruit juices and soda and instead drink water and tea.
Meat, in any form and in excess can have ad-verse effects on your health and weight loss goals. Even lean meat sources contain fat and cholesterol which are es-sential for life, but only in moderate amounts. Pro-tein is an essential ele-ment in human survival and we need it every day to function. However, we don’t always need protein in the form of meat. For your health, try eating meat only one or two nights a week and aim for vegetarian or fish sources for the rest of the week. Great sources of vegetari-an protein include leg-umes (beans), lentils, nuts, broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts. If you do eat meat, eat it sparingly and aim to eat lean meats like chicken or turkey. Watch out for deli meats as these have high sodium content and have even been linked to can-cer.
With weight loss, one of the most important factors is not only that you are eating good foods but also that you are eat-ing moderate propor-tions. Anything in excess isn’t good for us so mod-erate your diet with aver-age size dinners and try not to overeat. To help, eat around the table and not in front of the TV which distracts us from our hunger and satiation cues. To help keep you satisfied between meals, carry healthy, easy snacks like nuts, apples, and ba-nanas. Stay away from false health snacks like granola bars, chips, and crackers. These products can claim to be healthy, low fat, or low calorie but are usually full of salts, sugars, and hydrogenated oils to make up for it.
Healthy living should-n’t be expensive and by budgeting and meal plan-ning you can make the most of your shopping trips. For help meal plan-ning and preparing healthy foods, call our local SNAP educator, An-nette Galioto at (406) 283-2452 who can provide you free cooking classes, shopping advice, and meal planning tips to make your wallet stretch.
In addition to a healthy diet, physical ac-tivity is crucial for total body wellness. To be con-sidered active it doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. Pick activities that you enjoy, like walking, swimming, dancing, rowing, etc… and start slow and easy. As you build up to more ac-tivity you can get more vigorous in your routine.
Fluids help to move toxins out of our bodies and move nutrients into our cells. Water is the essence of life and there really isn’t any other sub-stitute. Invest in a water bottle and keep it with you all the time to help increase your intake of water. Add fresh fruit to give it flavor!
We all fall of the wag-on and I will even admit to making a McDonalds run now and then. The key to remember is that one bad meal will not ruin your diet, however one good meal won’t make it either. Change doesn’t have to be radicle to make a difference. Simply cut-ting out a few bad habits may make a world of dif-ference in your weight and health goals but be realistic in the goals you set or else you may set yourself up for failure.
Besides losing weight, these diet changes can have big impacts on your cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It can also prevent type II Diabetes or help to man-age it. It is important to keep our bodies in har-mony and balance and what we put into it is what we will get out of it.
If you read this and come away with one phrase, let it be this:
Eat foods without la-bels, drink water every day, and move often!
For recipes and tips, visit or call 283-2447.