Strategies to Induce Lifestyle Changes In reducing Obesity: Meal Structure, Balance, Portion and Environment

By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
Salesian Cooperator

There is so much to learn about how we manage our approaches to food when it comes to combating obesity. I am so thankful that Anet Piridzhanyan, MS, RDN spells it out in a way that is easy to understand. Here is a summary of her recommendations:

Meal Structure: Structure eating with 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. (All this time I thought when it comes to weight control, one should not snack.) That is correct:  Avoid snacking, but structure 2 snacks and not munching all day.

Food Balance: Promote fruit and vegetable consumption. Balance diet and eating habits. Avoid high energy density and low nutritional density foods (fast food, take-out, sugar sweetened beverages and juices). Do not forbid any food. (This is new to me; I think the idea that you “forbid” any food makes it harder to resist. A good example is: if you like chocolate, and you cannot resist the temptation, just have three small bites of the chocolate bar and discard the rest.) Avoid sugar sweetened beverages and juices.

Portion sizes: there is national recommendation based on your age and weight. (A common -sense approach is to use a plate and fill in the sensible choices with no seconds. This is an area that we in the U.S. do not do very well. We adore huge donuts, 24 oz steaks. It seems like more is good to get our money’s worth. However, portion control is a huge part of many people’s successful weight control strategies.)

Diets: Avoid any type of restrictive diet. (I think what she meant was to avoid, for example, an all protein diet, ketogenic diet, or no carb diet. The key is balance and sustainable diet.)

Meal environment: Eat as a family (more chance to have home cooked meals than fast food.) Avoid screen during meals. (This is absolutely my belief too; I cannot stand having grandchildren eat and play their video games. Frankly they do not know what they put in their mouth.) Offer healthy foods at home: this is essential the key for caregivers at home. If the family does not purchase soda, the kids would not have soda as their breakfast drinks.

Family implication: when working with children, family should be included in the treatment. Family behavior should not be different than the child with excess weight to avoid stigmatization.

I hope this would give you a glimpse on the topic of food when it comes to weight control.

Next week, we will explore lifestyle Interventions.

(The words in italics are comments from Sheila Kun)

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: check out the food tips and see if you can use some of the strategies for better weight control.

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