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Time to Ditch the Diet? | Sept. 21, 2011

Sweets and other snacks may be the downfall to anyone’s plan to lose weight, but new research is contradicting that claim.  A recent article in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association detailed a study about weight loss in overweight and obese premenopausal women.  In this study, one group of women were placed on a reduced calorie diet and permitted to have a premeasured portion of dark chocolate or licorice daily.  The other group was not.  At the end of the study, both groups had lost a significant amount of weight.

 

The successful weight loss of the group having sweets is due to key factors in the intervention.  First, the group was on a reduced calorie diet that resulted in slow steady weight loss over a period of 18 weeks.  Traditional diets usually require restriction of food for a shorter period of time until the diet is over.  The problem with this idea is that once the diet is finished, the restriction is no longer in place, which may lead to the return of old habits and weight.  As much as we all would like it to, weight loss cannot be achieved nor maintained overnight.  This is why long-term weight loss must be a completely permanent lifestyle change.  Slow and steady changes over a long period of time eventually become permanent habits and a way of life.

 

Second, by allowing pleasurable snacks that fit within the calorie guidelines, the group that was not restricting treats faired just as well as the restricted group.  This seems contradictory to traditional diet guidelines, but demonstrates why moderation and portion size are key in achieving and maintaining weight loss.  Small reductions in portion size reduces calories, which means weight loss over a period of time.  Moderation of favorite foods in smaller doses ensures that eating can still be exciting and pleasurable while maintaining motivation and the likelihood of weight loss.

 

Although this study did not test physical activity in relation to weight loss, regular exercise is also important in reducing and maintaining weight.  A Registered Dietitian can help you make a healthy weight loss plan and lifestyle changes tailored to your goal weight.  To find a Registered Dietitian, go to www.eatright.org.

 

Flashy diets promise long, lasting dramatic results, however, the truth is that most do not.  The dieting cycle often results in fluctuating weight and discouragement.  Free yourself from the doom and gloom of the “diet” lifestyle by making changes in portion sizes, and include some sweet, pleasurable snacks in your meal plan.