Choosing the Right Diet to Lose Weight


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What kind of diet will help me lose weight?

Each individual is different. There is no universal diet that will help every person lose weight.

The idea of "going on a diet" to lose weight implies that eventually, you will "go off" the diet and return to your old eating habits. This could lead to up and down weight loss and gain, which is bad for your health. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make lifestyle changes that include healthy eating and exercise habits.

Why am I overweight?

There may be many reasons for your weight problem. Weight problems often run in families, or you may be overeating to comfort yourself when you are sad, stressed or lonely. Sometimes a low metabolism (the rate at which you burn the calories you eat) or a problem with hormone levels may be the cause.

A new diet may help you lose weight for a little while, but the weight often comes back unless you find new ways to deal with the problems that are leading to your weight gain. This may mean learning new ways to deal with stress and loneliness.

What kind of diet should I follow?

You should follow a healthy diet that you like and that you can stick to. The diet should be low in fats (especially saturated and trans fats) and sugars, and high in fiber and protein. You can learn more about making healthier food choices here.

Your doctor or a nutritionist can give you advice on what kinds of foods are healthy choices. Remember to watch portion sizes. A healthy portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. A healthy portion of rice or pasta is about the size of your fist. Most restaurants tend to double or even triple these amounts, so be careful when dining out.

Read the nutrition labels on food packages before you buy them. If you need help understanding the labels, ask your doctor or a nutritionist to explain them.

Sugar-sweetened drinks, such as fruit juice, fruit drinks, regular soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk and sweetened iced tea can add lots of sugar and calories to your diet. But staying hydrated is important for good health. Substitute water, zero-calorie flavored water, non-fat or reduced-fat milk, unsweetened tea or diet soda for sweetened drinks.

Will it be hard to change my diet?

It might be hard and it may also take time, but try not to get discouraged. Your effort will be worth it! The key is to keep trying to eat the right foods. The following are a few suggestions to help you change your eating habits:

  • Make small, slow changes, which will be easier to make a part of your everyday life.
  • Keep a food diary. Use this record to help you see if you need to eat more from any food groups, such as fruits, vegetables or low-fat dairy products.
  • Ask for help from your family doctor or a nutritionist, especially if you have a medical problem that requires a special diet.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 12/10
Created: 06/04

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