The Woodward News

January 6, 2014

Slow and steady wins in the weight-control race

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — It's less than a week into new year and already 25 percent of those who made them, have already shucked their New Year's resolutions.

That is according to some statistics gathered by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo and Matthew D. Blagys of the University of Scranton.

Perhaps one of the most quickly dropped resolutions belong to those folks who decided to begin a fad dieting regimen, says Amanda Jones, registered dietitian at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.

“The fact is true, lasting weight loss is not a quick fix. Most fad diets focus on making drastic changes for short periods of time, but achieving a healthy weight is about making small changes, consistently over time. For instance, it’s about finding ways to add more foods that are rich in nutrients to your diet, while reducing those “empty calories.”

Slow and steady really does win the race when it comes to reaching and maintaining your ideal weight,”  Jones said

A better plan for the coming year might involve changing your mindset from focusing on what you can't have and rather eating what you want, as long as it  is whole food, real food and top quality, says chef and owner of Cafe Eden, Rita Barney.

"I'm talking about no preservatives, no fillers, no packaged foods loaded with sugars and hydrogenated oils," she said. "When you eat whole, real food, you body takes from it the nutrients it needs and discards the rest,"

The petit, size-six chef is so grounded in that philosophy that it was the foundation upon which she built her cafe.

Just about any time of day, you can find Barney chopping nuts and fresh fruit in Cafe Eden's open kitchen for a salad of dark greens. Or she might be roasting fresh chicken for a creamy chicken salad sandwich to serve along side a small bowl of fresh tomato basil soup.

If all that makes you instantly start counting calories, that is the problem, Barney says.

"I raised my children to never say 'I can't have that'," she said. "I taught them about moderation."

She says fad diets don't work because they starve the body of important nutrients by restricting the dieter to certain foods in order to force the body in the short-term to feed off of its own fat stores.

That whole approach is counter intuitive to Barney, who knows from experience that a truly well nourished body burns calories faster and better.

Perhaps her holistic approach can be best summed up by reading one of the chalkboard signs featured in the French, country-chic styled eatery, which  proclaims; "You can't think well, work well or live well until you have dined well."

Some of the low intensity attitudes about food and its role in our lives have their roots less in what we are eating and more about what we are truly hungry for, says Tammie Smith, licensed professional counselor and founder of White Horse Ranch for girls.

In her practice, Smith helps patients deal with a wide range of eating disorders

According to Smith, overeating or even the opposite can stem from emotional issues and stress that is not being dealt with openly and within the framework of reality.

"It's called transference," Smith said. "We transfer a need we have from something else onto something tangible that we can see, like food."

For instance, maybe someone needs comfort from a parent and instead gets comfort from food.

"I had a girl here who wanted to get an issue out in the open with her parents for a long time but was afraid. She would eat and regurgitate that food," Smith said.

Smith said in this case the food represented the issue the girl wanted to get out in the open with her parents. When she was able to finally deal with it openly with her parents, she was able to understand how she had been using food.

So, Smith agrees that a reality and health focused approach to weight loss and healthy living is best and that diets that promise a fast result are anchored in the very fears and insecurities that brought us into a bad relationship with food in the first place.

She says before beginning any diet, people should take some time to really learn to know what their bodies are telling them about what they need.

For instance, she said many times people think they are hungry when really, what they need is water. And other times, when the afternoon gets long and we think we need a crunchy snack to wake us, a walk in the fresh air could be what we really need.

Smith advises a simple approach. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are weary and try not to use food to fill a need for which it was not designed.

"Listening to our body; that is how we truly become in tune with what we need," Smith said. "We need to stop and put our ear to the ground and hear the Ohhhhhm of the universe and ask ourselves, 'What is it that I really am wanting and needing,'."