Consultant Health Guide: Keys to Successful Weight Loss

March 1, 2006
D. Keith Cobb, MD

Excess weight increases the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, depression, fatigue, and certain types of cancer. Losing weight and keeping it off are very difficult for most persons who are overweight. Here are some suggestions to help you lose pounds and keep your weight down.

Excess weight increases the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, depression, fatigue, and certain types of cancer. Losing weight and keeping it off are very difficult for most persons who are overweight. Here are some suggestions to help you lose pounds and keep your weight down.

Weight Loss Tips

Appetite control. When you feel the urge to snack, try low-calorie foods, such as microwave popcorn, sugar-free mints or gum, or ice chips, or simply drink water. Popcorn makes a good pre-meal snack to help fill your stomach before you dine.

Dining at home. Whenever possible, avoid eating out. Learn how to prepare healthy meals at home. Then serve from the stove or oven onto individual plates instead of placing all the cooked food on platters on the table. Don't go back to the kitchen for second helpings.

Healthy food for the family. Instead of preparing separate menu items for different family members, serve the same healthy foods to your entire family.

Storing foods. Don't store foods on the counter or other places where they are frequently seen. Remember: out of sight, out of mind.

Discarding foods. If you prepare or order too much food, discard the excess. Don't feel that you must always "clean your plate."Better to waste food than to waste your health by overeating.

Shopping. When you shop for groceries, buy only what is healthy. Before you check out, look in your cart and see if there is anything you should not buy--and leave it at the store. Stick to your prepared grocery list to discourage impulse buying.

Sharing entrées. When you dine out, consider splitting an entrée with another person or ordering a child's plate. Many restaurants will allow you to purchase a child's portion if you have a note from your doctor stating that you are being treated for weight control. When you use salad dressings, choose clear ones that you can almost see through (such as oil and vinegar).

Temptations. If you keep a tempting food stored at home or work, give it away or throw it out! •Hobbies. Eating is the hobby of choice for many of us. Try new hobbies or activities to occupy your time.

Fats and carbs. Fats contain more than twice the amount of calories as carbohydrates and proteins. When you eat carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc), choose high-fiber/whole wheat products.

Diet plans. Low-fat or low-carbohydrate--which should you choose? Generally speaking, whichever one allows you to lose weight and still have healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You will need your doctor's advice and testing to see how you are doing. Try to lose about a pound a week. Partnering with a friend or family member gives you an encourager as well as someone to whom you can be accountable. Pick a food plan you can stay on for life. Short-term "diets"usually equal short-term weight loss--with weight gain after the diet is abandoned.

Medication. Certain drugs can help you lose weight. Some of these are usually used for only a few months at a time, but they can be very effective. Your doctor can help you decide if medication is right for you.

Surgery. Bariatric surgery can be effective, but like all surgical procedures, it carries risks. Most surgeons require that you follow an intense medically supervised weight-loss program before considering surgery.