By Yael KohenWhat would happen if you stopped dieting? If you ate the steak — and the frites — because you wanted them? Yael Kohen discovered that eating what you want isn't as easy as you think.
It was the diet to end all diets. About a year ago — 15 years after my first diet — I decided to break my perpetual need-to-shed-pounds lifestyle to do something radical: eat what I wanted, when I wanted. Call it the "no diet" diet. It's the hardest thing I ever did.
See, the first time I went on a diet,...
Consider how much you need to lose before you decide how to do it, recommends Brian C. Jacobson, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and a gastroenterologist at Boston University Medical Center in Massachusetts.
Very overweight or obese. "For someone obese, I refer them to our weight loss center," says Jacobson, who says people with a lot of weight to lose can probably benefit from a structured, supervised program.
If you're slightly or moderately overweight. "I advise controlling portion size," Jacobson says. "If you control portion size, you cut calories."
To learn correct portion sizes, consult a registered dietitian or take a look at the USDA's new MyPlate guidelines.
Exercise also has to be part of your plan, Jacobson tells the do-it-yourselfers. But that doesn't necessarily mean joining a gym. "Buy a cheap treadmill," he says, and when you're watching TV, hop on and take a walk.
Personality plays a role in our attitude towards food, says Thomas R. Przybeck, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, who has published on the topic of diet and personality. Know your tendencies and tailor your plan to conquer the unproductive inclinations.
Impulsive. "If you have a tendency to be impulsive, you might see a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer and go for it," Przybeck says. Clearly you are a dieter who needs to remove those temptations.
Oblivious. If you tend to not pay attention when you eat -- maybe you're a TV snacker? -- you need to avoid such situations if you want to control portions.
Uptight. "If you are highly anxious, you will probably have more difficulty," Przybeck says. "Those who are anxious, nervous, and depressed might eat to feel better."