December 30, 2004
Physician, dietician offer tips to turn New Year's resolutions into reality
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—If your New Year’s resolution for 2005 is to accomplish all your resolutions from 2004—you aren’t the only one, said Dean Morrison, registered dietician at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
If you are like most Americans and your goal is to eat right and loose weight this year, Morrison said to be more specific and narrow your objectives.
“People are more likely to accomplish baby steps to eating healthier,” he said. “Plus, it is easier to stay motivated when you are meeting goals along the way.”
Start by adding a green vegetable to your evening meal or a glass of milk at breakfast, Morrison advises. By filling up on healthy foods, you will be less ravenous for unhealthy ones.
Morrison and Dr. David Collipp, medical director of the rehab surgery program at Methodist, say there are other ways to improve overall health such as consistent exercise and regular checkups with your physician.
“Not all exercise must be done in a gym,” said Dr. Collipp. “Use a pedometer and aim for 2 to 3 miles per day or 30 minutes of continuous exercise.”
Another good reason to make positive lifestyle changes for 2005 is to fight the rapidly growing obesity rate in Mississippi, he says.
“Mississippi has the highest occurrence for obesity in the country,” said Dr. Collipp. “That puts Mississippians at high risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even death.”
"It’s a very real and very serious problem," says Morrison. Morrison and other dieticians at Methodist see more than 2,000 patients each year who suffer serious conditions as a result of their weight.
Also, people are eating out more than staying home and cooking, Morrison says. Food in restaurants generally has more fat than a home-cooked meal. Emotional problems can also contribute to weight gain.
"You’re not supposed to eat just because you’re depressed," Morrison said. "You should only eat when you have a physiological need to eat. That’s why we get hungry."
But it’s the sedentary lifestyles that are most to blame, Morrison says. "Changing that has to begin at an early age. We need to teach our children the importance of active lifestyles and to only eat when they’re hungry and not to overeat. "The best way to treat obesity is to prevent it in the first place.”
Dr. Collipp and Morrison offer the following tips to turn resolutions into reality and combat weight gain:
- Engage in regular exercise. Even in small increments regular exercise provides significant heart benefits. Strive for 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Keep healthy snacks handy. To avoid vending machine raids or drive thru pitfalls, stock up on healthy snacks such as yogurt, fruit, salt-free pretzels, or low-fat popcorn.
- Drink lots of water. Water helps you feel full and avoids "dehydration headache.” It also helps kidneys do their filtering work to rid your body of toxins.
- Track your progress and have rewards. Tracking your progress makes you more accountable for your actions and rewards help you stay focused on your overall goal.
- Reduce time spent watching TV and other sedentary behaviors. Take a walk after dinner instead of watching television.
- Eat only when you’re hungry. Start serving food on smaller plates and gradually decrease portion sizes. Be sure to only eat until you’re satisfied, not beyond.
- Make an effort to learn about healthy eating and living. Don’t just focus on fat-free, low carb or other fad diets. Focus on increasing healthy habits and decreasing unhealthy habits.