Friday, May 18, 2007

Different approaches to dieting

Fitness Guru

Giada loves food and everything about it: shopping for it, prepping it, and savoring it. Giada De Laurentiis is a stellar chef, who appears on the Today show and on the Food Network. Is it my imagination that she and the other female chefs on the Food Network get a little closer to their dishes, swoon a little more than the male chefs on the network? Don't get me wrong--the male chefs, like Emeril, like their food, but there seems an emotional difference regarding food between the sexes. When it comes to dropping a few pounds, are women different? Why is it so hard? What does it take to trim down and get the results you want, whether male or female?

Most women are true mavens in the world of dieting. On any given day, almost half the women in the United States, and almost 25 percent of men, diet, fueling a $32 billion industry. Yet 90 percent of diets fail in the long run. The truth about dieting is that when you go off one you still can't eat whatever you want. The thin chefs know this. Most are masters of tasting, in small amounts. Most fad diets are not sustainable and sometimes unreasonably eliminate entire foods or food groups.

This month, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a new diet, based on the concept of the effect of how different carbohydrates affect blood sugar, known as the glycemic load, were no better than the more traditional ways to calorie cutting, excepting those with type 2 diabetes. Calories count, no matter where they come from. Both men and women share a similar habit of missing out on certain foods, which are full of water and fill you up. These foods are loaded with vitamins and nutrients: fruits and vegetables.

Meals take shopping and planning. The Food Network chefs think their meals through and have a plan. You need a plan also. To understand why we overeat, try keeping a food journal. They uncover a wealth of information regarding behavioral patterns and triggers. Excuses show up, such as not realizing you've just devoured a whole baguette before dinner, or you forgot to eat breakfast, and end up overeating later in the day.

Women do better with a detailed report when time, mood, hunger level and physical location are noted. Triggers, such as stress, show up when you food journal.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, a Pew Foundation scholar in nutrition and metabolism, helps her female patients taste and enjoy food, rather than gulping and eating to bury their stress.

Men like their food diaries simple: simply recording what they've eaten and how many calories they consume. Dr. Christopher Mohr of Pennsylvania State University also likes his clients to have a plan, as in eating breakfast, weekly weigh-ins, taking one day a week to prepare food for the week, and to have fast healthy food on hand, like yogurt, salad and fruit.

Small consistent changes in your eating behaviors can have a dramatic effect. Whether you're a stellar chef yourself, male or female, savor the rewards of eating well, and a life-long healthy relationship with food.

Connie Aronson is an ACSM, ACE Gold Certified, IDEA Elite personal trainer located at Koth Sports Physical Therapy in Ketchum.

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