Soy is good for everyone, not just vegetarians

Soy is Good for Everyone, Not Just Vegetarians

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A VEGETARIAN TO BENEFIT FROM INCLUDING MORE SOY IN YOUR DIET

Being a vegetarian isn’t the only reason to eat soy-based products. There are benefits for all of us – young or old, vegan or omnivore – to incorporating more soyfoods into our meals. The one I promote the most is that it increases the variety in our diets. That is also the tagline for National Soyfoods Month, which is celebrated in April each year.

I like to focus on variety because it’s the best way to make room on “your plate” for everything you enjoy while keeping any food from taking up more space than it should. And that helps you deal with the hard-to-grasp concept of moderation. Simply put, it means you must control the amount and frequency of everything you eat to have a balanced diet.

Yet with all the news you hear about “super foods,” it’s easy to believe you can eat all you want of some foods (you can’t), or you’d be better off limiting your diet to some top ten list (you won’t). Eating a greater variety of foods is the best bet for optimal nutrition.

So in honor of National Soyfoods Month, here are some reasons why you might want to expand the variety of your family’s diet with the addition of more soyfoods:

12 Reasons to Add Soy to Your Diet

  • Lower dietary cholesterol
  • Enjoy more meatless meals
  • Decrease risk of breast cancer in later life
  • Use instead of peanuts for those with peanut allergy
  • Replace cow’s milk for those with lactose intolerance
  • Provide choice for those with milk protein allergy
  • Reduce saturated fat in diet
  • Increase fiber in the diet
  • Ease constipation
  • Incorporate another vegetable (yes, soybeans are vegetables!)
  • Provide an alternate protein source to a vegetarian or finicky eater
  • Get another source of calcium using fortified soy milk

You can find soy-based products in every section of the grocery store, so why not add a few of these to your shopping list?

Where to Find Soyfoods in the Supermarket

Produce – fresh soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso

Freezer – edamame, soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy crumbles

Dairy – soymilk, soy yogurt, soy cheese

Snack – soy nuts, soy chips, soy bars

Staples – canned soybeans, soy pasta, soy flour

How many different soy foods do you eat each week?

Parents can play a major role in preventing childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know

This post was written as a guest blog for Family Goes Strong. You can read the original post here.

PARENTS CAN PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN PREVENTING CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States over the past 30 years. It affects children in every state and from every socioeconomic group. As of 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. were overweight or obese.

When a problem becomes that prevalent there is a danger of not taking it as seriously as we should. But the risks of obesity are too great to ignore. Preventing excess weight gain in children may be the most important way we can protect their health and quality of life.

With more than 30 years of experience helping families deal with childhood obesity, I know there is no simple solution to this problem. But there are some things every parent should know as they consider their options.

5 Things You Need to Know About Childhood Obesity

1. Your child’s relationship with food is established in the first five years of life

When solid foods are first introduced to a child between the ages of 4 and 6 months, they begin their relationship with food. For the next year parents must learn to interpret the subtle signals their children use to express how hungry they are and what they like until they can tell you themselves. The goal is to allow the child’s internal sensation of hunger to govern how often and how much they eat. Their evolving taste preferences should allow them to accept and refuse different foods without threat of punishment or reward. If this is done consistently, in an eating environment where no bias or judgment is expressed about any food, children will grow to trust their feelings of hunger and appetite by the time they start school.

2. What is eaten at home is more important than what is served at school

Children spend far more time eating at home or out with their parents than they do in school. What children experience during meals with their family is far more important than the institutional feeding that goes on in schools. If parents don’t like the selections available on school menus, they can pack a lunch for their child to eat instead. But if a child is being exposed to new foods in the cafeteria that are not available at home, they have no choice but to eat what is served at home.

3. Weight loss in parents is the biggest predictor of children’s weight loss

A recent study looked at 80 parent-child sets with an overweight or obese 8-12 year old in each. The participants were assigned to one of three different programs to help their child lose weight. Features of the three programs included having the parents change the home food environment, limit what the child ate, and lose weight themselves. The researchers found parents’ weight loss was the only significant predictor of children’s weight loss. These results are consistent with other research showing how important the example set by parents is to successful weight loss in their children.

4. Genetics are a factor in obesity, but age of onset is more important

There is no test we can take at birth to tell us who will become overweight or obese as an adult. If one or both parents are obese, that does increase a child’s risk of also becoming obese, but it is not inevitable. Research from the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center of Cincinnati found that being obese during the teen years is a stronger indicator of who will be obese in adulthood than being obese in early childhood, regardless of whether the parents were obese. Preventing obesity in adolescents is one of the best ways to prevent obesity in adults.

5. Treat overweight and obesity in your child as a health concern, not an image problem

All children need to learn how the food they eat and their level of activity can affect their health. The conversation should be the same for an overweight child and one who is not, just like talking about the importance of wearing seatbelts and getting immunized. When the focus is on staying healthy, not appearance, your child is less likely to develop emotional issues about their weight.

Kitchen makeover means a healthier diet in the New Year

Kitchen Makeover Means a Healthier Diet in New Year

FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO GIVE YOUR KITCHEN A HEALTHY MAKEOVER FOR THE START OF THE NEW YEAR

There is no better time than the first day in the first week of a brand new year to make a fresh start on the road to healthy eating. And there’s no better place to take the first step on that journey than your kitchen. January 1st is a perfect time to clean out your cabinets, purge your pantry and rid your refrigerator of any foods that might sabotage your diet in 2012.

Let me lead the way to your kitchen makeover!

The first thing you must consider is whether you alone can take control the contents of your kitchen? If not, you will need to include the other decision makers in your household before undertaking this project.

Next you must have a clear vision of what types of foods your new eating plan includes. Does it allow pasta sauce in a jar or just canned tomatoes to make your own sauce? Can you eat tortilla chips if they are made from organically grown corn, yet still snack chips? Will you be able to use any of your collection of bottled salad dressings, or must they all go?

Once you have those guidelines in place, you’ll need a large trash bag for the food you’ll dispose of and a sturdy box for the food you can donate. And you’ll need a pad to begin writing your shopping list of the better-for-you replacement foods you’ll need to buy when you’re done.

Starting with the cabinets, cupboards and pantry, remove everything in a jar, bottle, can, box, bag, or pouch. Immediately discard anything opened that does not “belong” in your new food plan. Then put the unopened versions of any unwanted foods in the donation box.

Now make a list of the items you’ll need to fill in the gaps with the good stuff.

The final step is to wipe down the shelves before returning just those foods you want to see on your plate at future meals.

With that done you’re ready to tackle the refrigerator and freezer. Start with containers stored on the shelves in the doors of the refrigerator. Remove everything from those shelves, sort it, discard what you don’t want, clean the shelves and return the items you want to keep. Don’t forget to add the foods to your shopping list you want to replace. Next empty the drawers and do the same thing. Then you can clear out the open shelves and lastly, hit the freezer.

This is just one step towards better eating habits, but it’s a giant step. You can’t continue your habit of eating a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV every night if there’s no ice cream in the freezer. And you can’t establish your habit to eat more brown rice and whole grain pasta if they aren’t in the cupboard.

Wishing you a satisfying journey on the road to good nutrition!

Food Trends Forecast What We’ll Eat in the New Year

Best Top Ten Food Trends for 2012 From The Everyday Dietitian

TOP TEN FOOD TRENDS FOR THE NEW YEAR PICKED BY THE EVERYDAY DIETITIAN

The final predictions have been made for what we’ll see on restaurant menus in 2012 and what foods we’ll be serving at home. Based on all the forecasts from all of the experts, I have prepared my list of the Top Ten Food Trends I found most favorable, foreboding or fascinating for the coming year.

The Hartman Group – This market research firm studies consumer culture and behavior and sees a continuing shift away from traditional meals. Their forecast for 2012 and beyond has is eating alone more, less eating together as a family and more doing your own thing, more snacks/ fewer meals, distinct “food occasions” replacing traditional meal categories and food decisions for “immediate consumption” based on mood or whimsy.

Technomic – The visionaries at this food service research and consulting firm predict the uncertain economy will make consumers less willing to take risks when dining out, so familiar foods will be given a new twist instead. Expect innovations in sandwiches, wraps, pizza and pasta. Cost-consciousness will also be seen by the use of simpler ingredients, such as beans, artisan grains and cheaper cuts of meat, presented as “rustic fare” in place of premium ingredients.

Mintel Group, Ltd. Anticipating ongoing economic and health concerns, these forecasters say restaurants will feature more “Double-Sided” menus giving consumers the choice of healthy options on one side and the usual indulgences on the other. This concept will also allow restaurants to offer premium and value pricing on opposite sides of the menu.

Phil Lempert’s Supermarket NewsSupermarket Guru Phil Lempert describes “Xtreme Home Cooking” as a way people will save money in 2012. Home cooks will strive to make the ultimate “value meal” by placing price and taste ahead of convenience. Lempert also says stores will be catering to the 76 million baby boomers now turning 65 who will control over half of the $706 billion spent on groceries by 2015! As the largest food influencers and purchasers, manufacturers will be motivated to develop more products featuring health and wellness benefits.

Small Business Food Trends – Entrepreneurial restaurant owners looking for an edge will be serving more appetizers or small plate portions on their menus. Customers love them because they allow sampling and sharing, appeal to health-conscious diners and are less expensive than entrees. Chefs like them because they can experiment with new ingredients and recipes without great risk.

Leatherhead Food Research They predict a continuing rise in the sales of “free-from” foods, such as free-from gluten, lactose, soy or nuts, to meet the demands of both the growing aging population and more health and nutrition conscious younger consumers.

Functional Ingredients and Nutraceuticals World – Both of these ingredient suppliers anticipate consumers will continue their search for “clean” labels. They say “pure” is the new “natural” and the meaning of “green” has diversified beyond responsible and sustainable to also mean ethical, less wasteful and more authentic.

The Food Channel A key trend in their sights for 2012 is more “Shopping Schizophrenia” with the revival of butchers, bakers and other specialty food shops right in your neighborhood. These Mom & Pop shops offer a more intimate shopping experience to compete with one-stop shopping in big box stores.

National Restaurant AssociationKids are prominent in the NRA’s vision for 2012. They see more healthful kids’ meals on restaurant menus, children’s nutrition as a culinary theme, more whole grain items in kids’ menus and smaller versions of adult meals served as “children’s mini-meals.”

American Council on ExerciseWeight loss won’t just about diet and exercise in 2012, it will include “lifestyle coaching.” Gyms will staff nutritionists, physical therapists and psychologists in addition to personal trainers to conduct “wellness programs.” Local employers will use these services to try to keep their work force healthy. There will be more mobile apps for interactive and online workouts accessible from smartphones and tablets.

What’s on your list of Top Ten Foods to Eat in 2012?

Good nutritional values can be found in the interior of your grocery store.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

YOU CAN STILL MAKE HEALTHY FOOD PURCHASES WHILE CONTROLLING YOUR FOOD BUDGET

Finding healthy foods to eat while sticking to a tight budget is not a difficult as you may think. Grocery stores circulars feature deeply discounted items each week to attract customers and good values can be found in every aisle all year round if you know what to look for.

The hard part is changing your shopping list to match what’s on sale or a good bargain. But if you’re trying to save money and eat well, it can be done. Let me show you how.

The biggest myth handicapping people who want to shop smart on a budget is the notion that all of the best foods are found on the perimeter of the store. That’s simply not true! Perishable foods that have high turnover and need to be closer to receiving docks or refrigerated storage areas are around the perimeter.

For example, fresh produce is found on the perimeter. Good deals can often be found on seasonal produce, but fresh is not always best. It is, however, more expensive, other than staples like potatoes, onions and carrots whose prices don’t vary much. Fresh produce becomes even more expensive it spoils before you eat it.

Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit, dried fruit, and canned or bottled 100% fruit and vegetable juices offer good nutrition at a good price every week of the year. Why not replace a green salad with a bean salad using canned lima, kidney and string beans or combine fresh carrots with canned pineapple for another low cost salad option?

Fresh meats, poultry, eggs and milk products are also found on the perimeter walls of the store. It is worth taking advantage of sale items in the meat case if you have the freezer space to store them when you get home. Fresh eggs remain one of the best nutritional values in the store at 20 cents apiece, while individual containers of flavored yogurt are among the worst. It’s far more economical to buy a quart of plain low fat or fat free yogurt and add a spoonful of jam.

You can build everyday menus around the good values found in the interior of the store if you by-pass the more costly versions packaged for convenience, and stick to the basics. These include:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Bagged dry beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned salmon
  • Sardines
  • Evaporated milk
  • Nonfat powdered milk
  • Canola oil
  • Whole wheat flour

Of course, you must be willing to learn some new cooking skills and a few new recipes so you can prepare things from scratch, but that provides further nutritional benefits. It’s worth it if you want to make an investment in your health and your wallet at the same time!

How are you saving money at the grocery store?

How to select the right diet foods for your holiday menu

Diet Foods for the Holiday Menu

USE THIS CHECKLIST BEFORE SHOPPING FOR SPECIAL DIET FOODS

Preparing a holiday meal is no longer a matter of recreating the traditional family recipes handed down through the generations. Now more than ever people are following medically prescribed or self-styled diets that make menu planning a challenge. And when extended family members don’t gather around the table that often, it’s even harder to know who eats what?

Let me offer some advice.

If you’re hosting the meal, ask in advance about special food restrictions so you’re prepared. You don’t have to be a short-order cook, but you should have something on the menu for everyone. Recipes can be modified and alternate ingredients used to make them fit.

If you’re going to be a guest, don’t make assumptions about what will be served. Call ahead to explain not only what foods you can’t have, but what you can. Then offer to bring something from the “can eat” side of your diet.

Here’s a quick checklist of 10 lesser known diets to guide you before you go shopping:

Special Diet Checklist

  1. Baby Food Diet – Only allows pureed baby food in jars as snacks or for up to two meals a day
  2. Gluten-Free Diet – No croutons, bread stuffing, crumb-topping, rolls, pie crust
  3. Low Carb Diet – No potatoes, yams, winter squash, any of the gluten-free choices, anything candied, cranberry sauce, fruit, dessert other than nuts
  4. Halal Observant – No coffee, tea, alcohol, pork, gelatin, improperly killed animals
  5. DASH Food Plan – Very little added salt and mostly low sodium foods, no processed meats or high fat cuts, only low fat or fat free dairy products, lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds.
  6. Low Purine Diet – No organ meats, gravy, goose, butter and spreads, nuts, cream
  7. Macrobiotic Lifestyle – Depending on the stage, they may eat nothing more than brown rice or be a vegetarian who eats fish, but preferably only locally grown foods that are minimally processed
  8. Raw Food Diet – No cooked or commercially processed plant foods, although blending, pureeing and dehydrating them is acceptable
  9. Stone-Age, Caveman or Paleo Diet – Only those foods that could be obtained by hunting, fishing or gathering, nothing grown by modern agriculture or made by food processing
  10. Low Residue Diet – No whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, coconut, raw vegetables, edible fruit skins or seeds
): Sugar and sweeteners can be part of healthy diet

Sugar or Sweetener – Which is Best?

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners can have a place in a healthy diet

They’re the foods and beverages we love to hate – anything that tastes sweet. We love them because they satisfy one of our most primal appetites. We hate them because it’s so easy to consume too much of them, or to eat and drink sweet tasting things instead of the other less tasty stuff.

But is that really a sugar/sweetener problem or one of portion control? Take a look at my post on portion control and evidence below, then decide.

Sugar is Natural

The Food and Drug Administration allows food manufacturers to describe foods as natural if they do not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Both sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) meet those criteria. The both come from plants and undergo less processing than what it takes to turn milk into cheese.

Once sugar, HFCS or a naturally sweet piece of fruit is eaten, they are broken down into the exact same simple sugars. Your body cannot tell where they came from and uses them all in the same way. And although fruit does have other nutrients in it along with the sugar it contains, the sugar is there for a reason. It helped us select the ripest, and consequently, most nutritious fruits when we were foraging for our food, and that contributed to our evolutionary success as a species.

Flash forward to the 21st Century and sugar is no longer hard to come by or only found in fruit. That makes it easy for some people eat too much of it, but that does not mean sugar or HFCS is bad for us. Too much is not good, and that’s true about everything as I wrote in my blog, There are No junk Foods.

And what about the alternative to sugar and HFCS, artificial sweeteners?

Sweeteners Are Safe

Low and no calorie sugar substitutes have been available for over 50 years. Saccharin was the first, and each new sweetener discovered since then has undergone more extensive study than any other additive in the food supply.

Still, the suspicions linger on.

The weight of the research sides with the sweeteners. Not only is there no scientific evidence that they are harmful or increase our appetite, they can actually play a role in weight and blood glucose control when used as part of an energy balanced diet. Of course, some people use a lot of them who do not have balanced diets, but are the sweeteners to blame?

According to international experts, the answer is no. The safety of the low and no calorie sweeteners on the market today has been endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union and the regulatory agencies for more than 100 countries. Could they all be wrong?

Position Statements in support of these sweeteners have also been issued by groups including the American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society to name a few. Are they all misleading the public?

You decide. Are sugars and sweeteners the problem, or do some people have a problem with them?

Protein is important to health, knowing your number matters.

Protein in the Diet – How Much is Enough?

The amount of protein you need changes over time

Protein is one of those nutrients that wears a halo of goodness but is shrouded in confusion. People know they need protein in their diets and that it’s good for them, but don’t know how much they need or if they’re getting enough. I can help.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

The amount of protein we need each day is based on our age and weight and if we have any specific building or repair conditions that demand more protein, such as pregnancy, recovery from a serious illness or extreme physical activity. This means our protein requirement is not a fixed number of grams once we reach adulthood, as most other nutrients are, but a value that changes over our lifetime.

What Are the Recommendations for Protein?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science is charged with establishing the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) is for all essential nutrients. The DRIs are calculated to provide a sufficient amount of each nutrient to meet the requirements of 98% of all healthy Americans. For healthy adults over the age of 19 the DRI for protein is 56 grams a day.

The Percent Daily Values (DV) we see on the Nutrition Facts panels of food labels are based on 50 grams of protein per day. This represents 10% of the calories in a 2000 calorie a day diet coming from protein. The key point here is that the Daily Values are not nutrient recommendations. Daily Values are a tool for consumers to use when comparing foods on the shelf to see what has more or less of each nutrient. They are all based on a 2000 calorie diet as the common reference point. Obviously, we don’t all need 2000 calories a day, and may need more or less protein as well.

The sample menus on the USDA ChooseMyPlate food plans are based on providing between 17% – 21% of the total calories as protein. On those 2000 calorie diets, that translates to a total of 85 -105 grams of protein a day.

What Amount of Protein is Right for You?

To get a more personal calculation of your protein requirement you’ll need a calculator. It involves multiplying your weight in pounds by .36 grams for the lowest amount of protein you should get each day and .8 for the highest amount if you’re not in one of those special needs categories mentioned above. (If using weight in kilograms, multiply by the factors .8 grams and 1.8 grams.) If you weigh 120 pounds, that’s a range of 54 – 96 grams a day. For someone weighing in at 175 pounds, the range would be 63 – 140 grams per day.

Strength and endurance athletes are advised to get from 0.5 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound (1.2 – 1.7 grams/kg) for best performance according to a joint Position Statement on Nutrition and Athletic Performance of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine. That works out to 60 – 96 grams for the 120 pound person and 88 – 140 grams for the 175 pound person mentioned above.

Look for my next post on how to be sure you’re getting enough protein in your daily diet and how to distribute over your day.

Goals for Food Day matter every day of the year

Registered Dietitian’s Food Day Pledge Takes Aim at What’s Wrong With Most Advice

Food Day Pledge from registered dietitian lists 10 Things she will not do when giving food advice

Today is Food Day, a day to promote “healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” This I support. But some of the lofty ideas, biased language and unsupportable premises offered by the promoters I do not.

For example, the 6 Food Day Principles strive to both limit subsidies to agribusiness and alleviate hunger, even though you need the first to first to accomplish the second. The official Food Day cookbook, Eat Real, is described as a collection of delicious, healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes, yet includes “Braised Kohlrabi with Fennel & Leeks” and “Yogurt Panna Cotta with Cranberry Pear Sauce,” which just don’t sound real enough for most people I know.

Therefore I am taking a different approach. As a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist, I have prepared a pledge of the ten things I will not do on Food Day, or any other day of the year, because I believe they are contrary to health promotion and a sense of fairness to all of the people in America who need to hear messages about good nutrition.

Food Day Pledge From a Registered Dietitian

I hereby pledge not to:

  1. Blame any single food, beverage or ingredient for obesity. It’s a complex issue with many biological, environmental, behavioral and social implications. We don’t have all the answers but the shot-gun approach of targeting one thing as the cause doesn’t help.
  2. Use toxic language to describe otherwise edible food. Terms like “toxic,” “garbage” and “junk,” have no place in the conversation when a food is not spoiled or is otherwise safe to eat.
  3. Hide vegetables in other foods in order to get kids – or anyone else – to eat them. Only in America could such an idea flourish.
  4. Presume that the food supply and/or diets of Americans were actually better at some other time in history than they are right now. We simply weren’t micromanaging everything we ate in the past as we are today since most of history was dominated by a need to stay one step ahead of starvation.
  5. Submit to the idea that food advertising and brand marketing are more powerful than individual choice. They may lead us to the product, but we buy based on education, income and circumstances.
  6. Profess that we know all that there is to know about our nutritional needs and how to meet them. The science of human nutrition is young and still evolving, so I will always be ready for more breakthroughs.
  7. Let the rapid rate at which news travels via the Internet undermine the slow and methodical pace of scientific discovery. Changes in dietary guidance are not based on single studies or viral videos.
  8. Forget that most Americans do not live near a farmer’s market or other local source for year round produce. Frozen and canned vegetables are two of the best values in the grocery store.
  9. Ignore the fact that there is no such thing as “The American Diet.” Food consumption survey data is at best a fuzzy snapshot of what some people ate for a few days of the year, as best as they could remember and describe it. That does not tell the whole story.
  10. Overlook the uniqueness of each person’s diet as a reflection of his or her cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-economic heritage and, most importantly, personal tastes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons learned during weight loss hold key to success

Changing Lifestyle is Key to Successful Weight Control

Research shows losing weight and keeping it off requires changes in lifestyle

Losing weight is difficult, very difficult. No matter what diet program, product or procedure is used to shed excess pounds, people have tremendous resistance to changing their routines and doing something different. I could argue that no matter what the reasons are that people have gained weight, they all share the same reason for having trouble losing it. People hate change.

Eating is a habit, which is one reason it’s so hard to change, but another is that it’s part of a lifestyle. And your lifestyle is shaped by where you live and work, how much money you have, who you spend your time with, and what you know, like, believe. If you want to change what and how much you eat and how often you exercise, it is going to require major changes in your lifestyle.

Knowing what needs to be done to lose weight is rarely the problem. All of my clients are able to tell me what they need to do differently. They say they know they should eat breakfast, take smaller portions, limit their snacks, exercise more, double-up on vegetables and switch to low fat, but they have a hard time sticking to those suggestions. Even just one.

That is because, for example, to eat breakfast every day you have to shop regularly to be sure you have food in the house, get up a little earlier, be able to prepare something you like and is good for you, make your own coffee, and clean up after yourself. Getting up earlier is a big enough hurdle for most people; making sure you have cereal, milk and a banana can be insurmountable!

Why, then, is it possible for some people to change their lifestyle and lose weight? The answers can be found in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).

First a few words about the Registry, my favorite source of inspiration. It is a voluntary group made up of over 5000 people who have lost anywhere from 30 -300 pounds and kept it off for five years or more. That’s all it takes to be a member.

Several common traits have been identified among the NWCR participants to help us understand what has worked for them and might help others. They are listed below.

The one thing you won’t find on the list is what made them do it. Cultural anthropologist Inga Treitler, Ph.D. conducted extensive interviews with ten of the registrants to see if she could figure that out. What she found is they all experienced an inner transformation which resulted in their abandoning their former lifestyles and being “reborn” into a new one. In essence, they found a reason to change that made living in their new lifestyle easier than the old.

It all begins with the right reason.

TOP TEN TRAITS FROM WEIGHT CONTROL REGISTRY45% lost the weight on their own

10. 55% lost the weight with the help of a program

9. 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week

8. 74% weigh themselves at least once a week

7. 78% eat breakfast every day

6. 80% are women, 20% are men

5. 90% exercise an average of 1 hour a day

4. 94% increased their physical activity, walking was the most common activity

2. 98% modified their food intake in some way, most by controlling calories and fat

1. 100% found a reason to change their lifestyle

Here’s what has helped me keep my weight in control for the past 40 years.

Getting Motivated to Eat Right