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Weight Management - Healthy Eating

Eating a healthy, balanced variety of foods is far more satisfying than following a strict weight-loss diet that leaves you feeling deprived and hungry. And healthy eating paired with increased activity is more likely to get you to a healthy weight—and keep you there—than dieting is.

Dieting is not healthy eating

Dieting may make you feel like a failure if you can't lose weight or stay on your diet. Instead of blaming the diets, people who are overweight tend to blame themselves. You may think, "If I could just stay on that diet, I would be thin." This doesn't take into account that your body has powerful regulators that affect your weight—things you can't do anything about. And if you've dieted again and again without success, you can get into a cycle of negative thinking—and even gain more weight.

When you go on a diet, you deprive yourself of food. For many people, that means being hungry most of the time and not having enough energy. It also can lead you to think about food all the time. So you're much more likely to overeat when you finally give yourself permission to eat. It's important to make healthy eating changes that you can keep doing, instead of dieting.

Many different diets and programs promise rapid weight loss but rarely work for the long term. Some might even be dangerous.

Weight Management: Should I Use Over-the-Counter Diet Aids?
Obesity: Should I Use a Diet Plan to Lose Weight?

But what does healthy eating mean? Everywhere we turn, we get conflicting advice on what foods are good for our health. It can be hard to know where to start after you've decided to make a change.

  • First, start paying attention to your body signals and to your hunger triggers.
  • Then get smart about eating healthy foods and controlling your portions.

First, learn to pay attention

Know your body signals

Young children are good at paying attention to their body signals. They eat when they're hungry. They stop when they're full.

But as we grow older, and fast food, huge portions, and delicious snacks are everywhere, many of us start to ignore our body signals. We eat for other reasons—or sometimes without thinking at all.

You can ignore those body signals for a while, but they are powerful. And if you ignore them for a long time (by dieting, for example) you lose your ability to pay attention to them. You get out of practice.

actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Recognizing Your Hunger Signals

Know your eating triggers

Common triggers to eating when you're not really hungry are:

Identify your eating triggers by keeping an eating journal for a week or two. Write down everything you eat, plus the time of day and what you were feeling right before you ate.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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