Feeling a little, shall we say, over-sated after the holidays? Or are you just tired of struggling with what you believe is excess weight, and look at the new year as a time to begin again?
If so, resist the temptation to start another diet. The temptation is real and understandable. Everywhere we turn, we’re encouraged to diet if we feel like our weight is a problem. Remember, if a plan or program advises what to eat to lose weight, it’s a diet, no matter what they say.
And according to an independent panel of experts who reviewed nominations submitted from all over the world for this year’s Slim Chance Awards, here are the types of approaches that you really want to watch out for.
Weight Loss Diets & Schemes Don’t Work! Especially These
Awarded for the last 26 years, the “Slim Chance Awards” are intended to increase awareness that weight loss diets and schemes usually result in weight gain and, often, poorer health. The “winners” this year are:
Worst Weight Loss Approach: Meal Replacement & Food Supplement Plans
“People are drawn to meal replacement plans because it takes away the need to decide what to eat, grocery shop, and prepare your own food, which sounds helpful,” says panel member Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, who operates a Washington, DC weight neutral behavioral practice. “In reality, these programs are expensive, you give up control over the quality of food, and it takes the pleasure out of eating. It’s hard to participate in a social life when you’re on a meal replacement plan. Instead, see the time you spend shopping and preparing food as an investment in yourself. Discover balanced meals you will enjoy eating mindfully.”
Most Overrated Approach: Point and Calorie-Tracking Systems
These systems specify the number of calories (which are what points are based on) a person can eat each day.
“If plans like these seem appealing to you, ask yourself why,” advises Scritchfield. “They provide a structure to follow and allow “real food,” but they get in your way by distracting you from a real potential issue, why you’re eating in the first place.”
Most Outrageous Approach: BMI Report Cards
In an attempt to identify children who are at risk for weight-related problems, many schools sent home BMI report cards in 2014, informing parents of where their children rank on the controversial body mass index (BMI) scale.
“There is no good evidence that BMI report cards help children become healthier or happier,” says panel member Katja Rowell, MD, childhood feeding specialist. “And there is growing concern that these reports, most often delivered with inappropriate advice to restrict intake, do more harm than good.
Some ways schools can help children be healthier and happier include offering routine, balanced and tasty meals and snacks, including “treats”, sharing meals with caring adults who don’t pressure children to eat more or less (responsive feeding), and increasing opportunities for children to play, socialize, and move their bodies in rewarding ways.”
Worst Gimmick: Dr. Oz “Too Crazy to Be True” Recommendations
The subject of a Senate inquiry, Dr. Oz was also singled out in a study in the British Medical Journal that suggested over half of the recommendations on his show were not supported by science.
“Desperate men and women (children included) spend nearly $65 billion a year in diet-related commerce and the reality is, most people experience weight gain and a reduction in health. And it supports an industry that contributes to the myth that thinner people are better and more valuable – which is not the case,” says panel member Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, weight stigma prevention advocate.
What To Do to End Weight Struggles
It’s important to recognize that most people have tried some of the approaches that were nominated at one time or another (we’ll post all the nominations next week). They are seductive, especially when you don’t know what to do instead. Further, they often seem to work in the short run, although they end up causing weight gain in the long run.
“The good news is that people are hungry (no pun intended) for a new approach and have found many promises in mindful eating, intuitive eating and other healthy eating plans that you can sustain for the long run,” says panel member Dr. Susan Albers, mindful eating expert. ” Once you try out a truly healthy way of eating, you are able to spot deceptive ads and not get sucked into these fad diets that promise immediate, amazing results.”
Our experts agree that by changing the focus from weight loss to living well, people can see better results with achieving and maintaining their healthy weight. That’s because it becomes a side effect, a by-product of sustainable healthy living.
Consider these steps to self-care from Green Mountain at Fox Run that can help you move away from the focus on weight loss.
- Focus on feeling good, not on how much you weigh.
- Choose foods you enjoy and eat them in a way that helps you feel well.
- Eat mindfully. That includes listening to and trusting your body’s cues – they are designed to effectively tell you what, when and how much to eat.
- Move your body in ways that you enjoy. Forget about burning calories – that focus destroys motivation to exercise.
- Feed yourself emotionally and spiritually with social connection and purpose.
- Get plenty of sleep.
The Slim Chance Awards are part of Healthy Weight Week, scheduled for January 19-23 this year. Stay tuned for a list of activities to be announced next week.