A quick glance down at our post-Christmas bodies, and most of us can admit that we’ve welcomed the new year with more than a few extra pounds. As we start planning those New Year’s resolutions, many of us that are overweight realise we need to take a look at a healthy eating programme to lead a better lifestyle in the new year. Here are some tips I’ve learned at the weight-loss centre run by Dr. William Summers, and some others which I’ve researched myself:


Watch the carbs – For some, there’s nothing more indulging than those holiday cakes, breads and pastries. Abstaining from carbohydrates is difficult – particularly for Americans – this time of the year. Our mouths water for those decadent carbs, but too many of them can be a problem. “34% of Americans are obese,” Dr. William Summers said, during his weight loss class. He attributed a substantial amount of this obesity epidemic to the overindulgence of carbohydrates and the subsequent impact on the body’s insulin system. So, don’t overdo it! Keep those in check the holiday season. At the Summers Weight Loss Clinic at St. Vincent’s Medical Centre in Alabama, nurses and staff tell the patients to “keep the carbs under control.” While some carbohydrates are good, too many are not, Dr. Summers tells his patients.

Stay Hydrated – It’s so important that we all get enough fluids down us every day, especially in such dry and icy cold weather. If you’ll be out and about for several hours, be sure to stop at the drink stand. You can get a fruit smoothie, juice or other beverage, including water. The bottom line is that it’s important to drink plenty of fluids so you don’t get dehydrated while you’re on the go. Also, staying hydrated helps you from getting overly hungry until it’s time for your meal. While some caffeine drinks such as coffee and tea can give you an added burst of energy, be sure not to overdose on the caffeine.


Get moving – The medical staff at Dr. Summers’ office recommends exercising regularly, at least five times a week. Cardio exercise can be of particular importance for weight-loss patients. It’s recommended to exercise at a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes per day. While finding the time and motivation can be a challenge for most people at times, it’s worth mustering the needed effort to get started. It can also be good to use the buddy system to help get you motivated to start exercising.

Creating the perfect plate – Dr. Summers recommends that 25% of our plate should be wholegrains, another 25% of lean protein, and then the rest with colourful vegetables. It’s also recommended that you add half a cup of fruit and about 6 ounces of low-fat milk or yoghurt. Good sources of lean protein for dieters can include egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and beans.


Avoid emotional eating – Some of us are what is often referred to as emotional eaters. When we’re extremely sad or happy, emotional eaters feel the need to start stuffing food in their mouths. Emotional eating also plays a role in derogatory feelings, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. The hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts,” the Mayo Clinic reports.

If you mess up, keep trying – If you blow your diet plan, try to remember that we all face setbacks and temptation. The key is to get back up again and keep trying if you really need to lose some weight. Also, try to learn from past diet failures. If something hasn’t worked in the past, modifying your diet plan may be your best option. A Mayo Clinic report recommends, “If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day.” Also, don’t carry out major grocery shopping trips when you’re feeling extremely emotional, if possible.

Snacking healthy – Both the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Summers recommend healthy snacking. Dr. Summers recommends that you eat a snack containing protein between 3pm and 4pm. His suggestions for this snack include a protein bar, a piece of low-fat cheese, almonds or an apple. This afternoon snack is extremely important, he reports. During Dr. Summers’ weight loss class, he also mentioned that keeping your blood sugar in check also helps your body keeps insulin levels in check. When those levels aren’t at a healthy rate, it can cause you to store belly fat. He said that eating those snacks can keep those blood sugar and insulin levels in check.


Check with your doctor – Like any eating programme, always check with your doctor about dieting and any other related concerns specific to your health.