Dietitians Dish: Sketching a weight-loss plan

By Iustina Iznaola
Jan. 21, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 20, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.

Iustina Iznaola

Iustina Iznaola

Most of us would agree that losing weight can be challenging and requires strong family support, self-motivation and dedication. In theory, consuming fewer calories and burning more energy results in weight loss.

Putting this equation into practice is not as simple as it sounds, but do not get discouraged. To be successful in your weight-loss journey, you have to make a plan to guide and remind you of the things that need to be done to achieve your weight goals.

When you budget for a new house or a yearly vacation, you always do the planning part first. The same principle applies to weight loss. The plan can be as detailed as you want it to be but be sure to consider the points discussed below.

As you begin designing your weight-loss plan, describe what a healthy body weight actually means to you. Dietitians agree that a healthy weight is one that is based on genetic background and family history of body shape and weight.

It is compatible with normal blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid levels, and it promotes good eating habits and allows you to get involved in regular exercising. Current social expectations of what is acceptable as a healthy body weight are unrealistic; therefore, do not let these dictate or influence your judgment regarding your healthy body weight.

Do not forget to pay close attention to your hunger and appetite and distinguish between them, as they are not the same thing. Hunger is defined as a physiologic sensation. It signals that our body needs more energy to continue performing the daily activities. It makes us search for food and eat.

On the other hand, appetite is a psychological desire to consume certain foods. It is associated with pleasant sensations such as the sight of a cheesecake or the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Hunger is a natural state that ensures our survival and prevents our body from complete energy depletion.

Appetite is aroused by social and environmental cues such as holidays, celebrations, stress and beautiful food menus and displays in restaurants and supermarkets. In fewer words, hunger is the need to eat whereas appetite is the desire to eat.

As previously discussed, if you eat more calories than expended, you will gain weight. Some people believe that avoiding fat is the answer to losing weight and preventing additional weight gain. Even though this may be partially true because our body prefers dietary fat for body storage, consuming excess calories from carbohydrates and proteins can eventually lead to weight gain as well.

Therefore, it is important to eat a mixed diet that is balanced and includes protein, carbohydrates and fat. The first two are the preferred source of body energy and building muscles but fat gives us satiety. It is more important to focus on the quality of foods and choose leaner protein, less-refined carbohydrates and healthy fats.

If you do not want to set yourself up for failure, then stay away from fad diets. These may be popular and well-advertised but most times are based on a consumer's desires or fears and not on scientific research and evidence-based information.

Usually, these diets are very restrictive and discourage variety and balance. A healthy diet should promote moderation and consistency and include a wide range of wholesome foods. Good eating habits along with regular physical activity will make you successful in your weight-loss journey.

Iustina Iznaola is a Registered Dietitian at DeTar Hospital. Send questions or comments to



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