The joy of eating is that one size doesn’t fit all. Some of us eat to live, while others live to eat. For those with certain chronic conditions, like diabetes, food choices are closely tied to disease management, while others may customize meals in an effort to lower their risk of developing heart disease or another condition.
Some of us love to create in our kitchen, while others prefer takeout.
Whatever your preferences and goals, the key is to develop what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans describe as healthy eating patterns, which meet your wellness goals, fit your lifestyle and fall within your budget. According to the Dietary Guidelines, healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight and should help prevent and reduce incidence of chronic disease, with a person’s nutritional needs met primarily through diet.
Why are healthy eating patterns so key? They take into account quantity, proportion, variety and all the different foods and beverages a person consumes; they’re also meant to be adaptable. By thinking about our dietary patterns, we can develop consistency and create opportunities to experiment with different foods.
As a first step, you need to decide on an eating pattern that best fits you. This is the foundation toensure you’re able to stick with it. To start, do a self-assessment, asking these questions:
- What are your goals?
- What are you willing to change?
- How skilled are you in food preparation?
- Do you eat out more, or will you cook?
- How many meals and snacks do you usually eat daily?
- What types of food do you like and dislike?
(CNN) If you are intensifying your running regimen in hopes of losing weight, you might be running around in circles: There is a limit to how many calories we can burn through exercise, a new study suggests.
The grim message comes from a small study of a group of 332 adults living in the United States, Jamaica and Africa, some of them more sedentary and some more active. A team of researchers measured their activity level for seven days using an accelerometer, similar to the kind in the Fitbit and other wearable devices, and also measured the number of calories the participants burned over the week.
The researchers found that the participants who moved more also burned more calories, but only up to a point. The most active people hit a plateau and did not burn any more calories than their less-active peers.
Although the researchers did not look at the specific activities that participants were doing, the level on the accelerometer at which calorie burning peters out would be achieved “if you’re walking a couple miles a day, like to work and back, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and trying to exercise a couple times a week,” said Herman Pontzer, associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College, and lead author of the study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
The study is in step with a growing body of research suggesting that burning a bunch of calories is a less realistic weight loss strategy than we might have thought, or hoped. “We can’t push the calories out [value] around too much,” Pontzer said. “Our bodies work very hard to keep it the same.”
It might be time to shift that standard public health message: To lose weight, simply exercise more.
“We would say that ‘If you want to lose weight, you probably ought to focus on changing your diet and watching how much you eat.’ Exercise can help and it’s really important [for health in general], but they are two different tools,” Pontzer said.