Your diet plan should be as unique as you are

March 02, 2018
  • Start with small changes on your new eating plan
  • Choose a program you can sustain over the long haul
  • Does anyone count calories any more? 

“You may be surprised to learn that the word ‘diet’ has such a negative connotation that we don’t like to use that word these days,” says Kailee Leverso, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator, and Certified Lifestyle Eating And Performance (LEAP) Therapist at the Swedish Bariatric, Metabolic, Endocrine Center’s two locations in First Hill and Issaquah, WA.

One of the problems is that a “diet” is short term and people go on and off diets. Leverso says, “It’s much more effective if people choose an eating or diet plan that is unique to them so they can sustain it for the rest of their lives. It works because it fits their lifestyle.”

“We discourage people from starting the more restrictive diets like the Paleo or HCG diet plans because they sometimes result in rapid weight loss at first, but they can be counterproductive,” says Leverso. There are four main problems:

  • The initial rapid weight loss is usually water loss.
  • The very restrictive nature of some of the crash diets can cause people to overeat and actually gain weight when they’re “off the diet.”
  • Metabolism is slowed in some cases, meaning it is harder to lose weight on future diets or eating plans, which makes it harder to stay the course.
  • Muscle is lost with rapid weight loss.

Weight-loss fads come and go; and despite years of public health initiatives, obesity continues to present a tremendous health challenge to America. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says:

  • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity (Obese is defined as body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30.0).
  • Obesity-related health risks  include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer -- some of the leading causes of preventable death.
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars.

The numbers are startling in their own right and demonstrate that obesity is a complex health issue with many contributing factors that needs to be addressed. What can you do as an individual to properly manage your weight without succumbing to trends that set you up for failure?

Get started with eating right

Start slow. Most people are gung-ho when they start their weight-loss program. They try to change everything all at once. Leverso says, “It’s better to make small changes and then add more. People get overwhelmed with too many changes at the same time, and they ‘fall off the wagon.’”

Calories make a difference, but . . .

Protein and carbohydrates have the same amount of calories (energy) per gram, but knowing how the body uses the calories is even more important. Calories from carbohydrates can increase production of insulin, a storage hormone, and can affect metabolism. This is a long way of saying that while having awareness of calories consumed is nice, it’s complicated. The simplest way is with tools like Swedish’s “Plate Guidelines” to stay on track on your eating plan. Sometimes, our patients don’t know what a healthy meal looks like.” Leverso says,  “We draw a picture of a salad-sized plate that has the following proportions:

  •  ½ veggies (non-starchy, like spinach or broccoli)
  •  ¼ whole grains or starchy vegetables
  •  ¼ lean protein (chicken or fish, or lean cuts of meat)

Who likes to count calories? Leverso says, “One of our pre-diabetes patients said, ‘You made the approach very simple, and, therefore workable in my life.’ In today’s complex world, simple is often the key to success when you’re trying to eat better, so we try to keep it uncomplicated.”

Getting help and having fun while learning to eat well

Nutritionists certainly help people after heart attacks and through diagnoses of chronic diseases like diabetes, but Swedish also emphasizes prevention and a personalized approach through things like seminars and one-on-one counseling. Leverso says, “I like to see our patients over the long-term — not only when they have reached certain mileposts in their path to health, but also to be there to encourage them and see them through the plateaus and setbacks. For our diabetic patients, I like seeing their blood sugar levels decrease as they stay on their eating plans and get more exercise.”

It is often difficult to manage your weight. But with the support they need to make lasting changes, Swedish patients find what really works when it comes to losing weight.

Learn about weight loss programs at Swedish, and sign up to attend a free weight loss seminar.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.