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Is 'Dieting' A Good Idea?

By Kathy Campbell, Bachelor of Science, Food and Nutrition, founder of the Personalized Eating Plan PEP

Have you ever wondered why we lose much of our reasoning power from the end of November through the end of the year? For starters, there is Thanksgiving Day -- all that wonderful food, the foods we love...spread out from one end of the table to the other. That's one meal, but then we have the leftovers!

Just as soon as we finish all that, comes the holiday preparations, with tree decorating, shopping and cookies (lots and lots of cookies! And, did I mention cookies?). How about those end of year holiday parties that stretch from the first week in December until after the first of the year? Fun, fun,, food, food!

Americans tend to think about eating in terms of 'all or nothing'. By that, I mean, we are either eating with wild abandon, or afraid to eat. Think about the first couple of months of the year, the determination we feel about our New Year's resolutions to eat better and (maybe) to lose weight. It's then that we begin to think about foods as 'bad'. But, are certain types of foods really 'bad' or is it, instead, our eating attitudes that determine how much of a certain food is enough....or too much?

As an example, let's look at carbohydrates: carbs are in breads, pastas, cereals, potatoes, rice, beans, vegetables, fruit, sugar, honey, molasses, alcoholic beverages, even in milk! To eliminate carbs is to eliminate many foods that supply our bodies with needed vitamins, minerals, fiber, and easily accessible energy (think about athletes who load up on carbs before a workout). No, eliminating them is not the answer -- controlling them on a consistent basis, that's the answer! Consistent means even during the holidays. Impossible, you say? Not really.

Clarification is in order here. We can enjoy eating all the time if we keep a few simple things in mind. First, all foods have a unique combination of one, two or three of the major nutrients -- protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each day, our body has a need for all three of the major nutrients in a certain amount (of each). Protein is needed at approximately 15 - 25 % of our daily food intake. Carbohydrate is needed at approximately 45-55% of our day's eating, and fat at about 30% (or a little less). These are the percentages that are recommended for a healthy body. Think of each day as a fresh start. Don't have the attitude, "I've already eaten so much today, I might as well just keep on eating, and worry about it tomorrow." Why make it worse than it already is?

And, conversely , don't be afraid to eat enough. Our body is designed to run on fuel (food), and if we don't give it enough, it will slow down it's metabolism to conserve -- precisely what we don't want to do!!

Next, try to listen to your internal cue that tells you when you have had enough to eat for the time being. This isn't always easy with delicious, tempting foods all around us, but do the best you can. Going out where food is served with a little bit of determination, for example, goes a long way toward helping us control what and how much we eat.

The last point to make today is that many foods and recipes contain a high percentage of fat. Try looking for recipes that trim some of the fat. You will find they are delicious and your entire family will not know the difference between the lower fat version and the regular one. Since fat is highly concentrated in calories (much more then either protein or carbohydrate, by weight), by eliminating much of the fat, you eliminate many of the calories! Hence, you can eat more!!

Relax and enjoy eating. Don't stress too much about all of this -- just be aware of the few facts mentioned here, and keep them in mind. Healthy, but enjoyable eating is important for all of us ALL year round!!

Kathy Campbell earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Kathy loves to eat good food and had to find a way to improve health and control weight, while enjoying all her favorite foods. Since there was no program available, Kathy had to design it herself, and has since helped thousands of other people do the same thing for themselves! Kathy Campbell can be reached through the Personalized Eating Plan, , and phone number (352) 241-9427 or toll free; 800-999-4737 (4PEP). Email is

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