A Healthy New Year With­out Di­et­ing

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This is the time of year when many peo­ple start di­ets. But af­ter a few weeks of not get­ting enough to eat or eat­ing food that does not taste good, most di­eters give up, hav­ing “failed” once again. The truth is, though, it is the di­ets that are the fail­ures, not the peo­ple who try them.

In­stead of im­prov­ing health, di­et­ing is of­ten harm­ful and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Health statis­tics show that only 5% to 10% of those who diet and are able to lose weight are able to main­tain that weight loss for more than a short time. Most di­eters quickly re­gain the lost pounds -- plus a few ex­tra -- and end up heav­ier than they started.

Di­ets pro­mote un­healthy eat­ing habits, of­ten by elim­i­nat­ing nu­tri­tious foods. Di­eters are en­cour­aged to ig­nore in­ter­nal body sig­nals of hunger and full­ness. Even­tu­ally, the abil­ity to re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately to these nor­mal phys­i­o­log­i­cal pro­cesses is lost. Chron­i­cally hun­gry peo­ple be­come ob­sessed with food and are likely to overeat when an op­por­tu­nity to do so presents it­self.

This year, in­stead of try­ing yet an­other diet, re­solve to make a pos­i­tive change for good health. Fo­cus on tak­ing one step at a time, as chang­ing be­hav­ior and at­ti­tudes is dif­fi­cult and takes time. Here are some great tips from Linda Rel­lerg­ert, re­gional nu­tri­tion spe­cial­ist at St. Charles County Univer­sity of Mis­souri Ex­ten­sion:

Ac­cept that there is no ideal body size, shape or weight. Peo­ple come in a va­ri­ety of sizes and shapes, and all can ben­e­fit from a healthy life­style. Re­search con­ducted by Steven Blair, di­rec­tor of re­search at the Cooper In­sti­tute for Aer­o­bics Re­search in Dal­las, has shown that peo­ple can be both fit and fluffy. He notes “There will al­ways be tall, skinny peo­ple and short, stocky peo­ple. That’s out of our con­trol. What we can do is ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, fol­low good health prac­tices, and live life to the fullest.”

Make phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity a part of ev­ery day. Ben­e­fits in­clude re­duc­tion in blood choles­terol and lipids, lower blood pres­sure and re­lief from stress. Find ac­tiv­i­ties that are fun and en­joy­able, and that fit into daily rou­tines. Walk­ing, skat­ing, danc­ing, bowl­ing, gar­den­ing or play­ing with the kids are ex­cel­lent ways to get phys­i­cal.

Get more sleep. Most of us get seven or fewer hours of sleep rather than the eight hours a night rec­om­mended by the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion. This may seem like just a small deficit, but the ef­fects are cu­mu­la­tive. Chronic sleep de­pri­va­tion con­trib­utes to stress and ten­sion, ac­ci­dents in the home, work­place and on the road, and can cause dif­fi­culty in cop­ing with the lit­tle ev­ery­day an­noy­ances of life.

Adopt nor­mal eat­ing pat­terns. Nor­mal eat­ing means reg­u­lar meals and one or two snacks a day to sat­isfy phys­i­cal hunger. Health­ful food choices pro­vide va­ri­ety, moder­a­tion and bal­anced nu­tri­tion. Re­spect the body’s sig­nals of hunger and full­ness by eat­ing when hun­gry and stop­ping when sat­is­fied. Nor­mal eat­ing also means eat­ing more on some days and less on oth­ers, and trust­ing that it will bal­ance out over time. Fi­nally, find non-food ways to cope with stress.

Here are some tasty and easy to pre­pare break­fast or snack muffins with vari­a­tions that are guar­an­teed to start your New Year’s off in a healthy way!


1 1/2 cups old fash­ioned oats

1/2 tea­spoon cin­na­mon

1 tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der

1 large egg

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1 cup milk any kind

1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

You can pre­pare the ba­sic mix or add the fol­low­ing ingredient­s to the recipe to cre­ate 4 vari­a­tions of this recipe:

* 1 cup blue­ber­ries fresh or frozen and 1/4 cup sliced al­monds or;

* 1/2 cup nat­u­ral peanut but­ter or nut but­ter, or;

* 1/4 cup co­coa pow­der and 1/4 cup mini choco­late chips, or;

* 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup shelled pump­kin seeds, 1/4 cup shelled sun­flower seeds, 2 ta­ble­spoons ground flax and 1/4 cup chopped, toasted al­monds.

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. Line a muf­fin tray with sil­i­cone or parch­ment lin­ers, or spray gen­er­ously with spray oil.

3. In a large bowl, mix all ingredient­s to­gether for pre­ferred recipe. Spoon in or use a cookie scoop to place into the pre­pared muf­fin lin­ers or tin. Try to get oat mix­ture and liq­uid evenly di­vided be­tween all lin­ers.

4. Bake for 20-25 min­utes, un­til lightly golden and no longer jig­gling in the cen­ter. Cool com­pletely be­fore stor­ing. Makes 6-8 muffins.

TO STORE: Keep in a sealed con­tainer at room tem­per­a­ture for up to 4 days. Store in the freezer in a heavy freezer bag (re­move ex­cess air with a straw) for up to 3 months.


An­gela Shelf Medearis is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s author, culi­nary his­to­rian and the author of seven cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kitchen Diva’s Di­a­betic Cook­book.” Her website is www.di­vapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like An­gela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Face­book. Recipes may not be reprinted with­out per­mis­sion from An­gela Shelf Medearis.

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