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Healthy Living

How a Dietitian Can Help You Create Lifelong Healthy Habits

May 25 2022

For years, people have followed diet plans in an effort to lose weight. Much like fashion, most of these so-called “fad diets” fall in and out of favor.

While some had better success than others and some diets are healthier than their counterparts, people commonly regain the weight they lost once they stop following the diet. Sometimes referred to as “yo-yo dieting,” the cycle of losing weight and regaining it led to dieters developing unhealthy relationships with the food they ate.

“Mainstream dieting has taught us to be restrictive with our food choices and create unhealthy food patterns that focus on foods that are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘off-limits,’” Katie Nowakowski, dietitian and surgical weight loss program manager for Bon Secours St. Francis Surgical Weight Loss, shares. “Diets are not meant to be followed long-term.”

Dieting vs. Healthy Eating

Katie continues by sharing diets are not long-term weight loss solutions. They are a short-term fix in an effort to hit specific goals – such as looking a certain way or weighing a specific number – but are unsustainable. However, many of these restrictive patterns are a result of food associations that are ingrained in us growing up, and breaking those societal constructs down takes time and hard work.

In order to develop healthier eating habits that can be maintained, Katie works with her patients to first identify their current habits and what they want to change.

“It may sound obvious, but it’s vital that the patient is the one wanting to make the changes and be willing to put in the hard work,” she says.

Many people may also associate “healthy eating” as cutting out what is perceived as “junk food,” but that’s not necessarily the case. Katie advises more of an attitude shift when it comes to food – instead of seeing food as its amount of calories, fat or carbohydrates, consider it for the other roles it plays in nourishing your body and providing it with the energy it needs to function.

“When I start working with patients on their food intake and physical activity routines, the first myth I combat is typically the black vs. white nature of healthy eating,” Katie explains. “Most people think that I’m going to tell them they can never have their favorite food again or am going to put them on an extremely strict regimen.”

Combining Healthy Eating and Exercise

Exercise takes a similar approach to healthy eating – viewing it solely as a means to lose or maintain weight creates a negative association with it. Instead, think about how exercise keeps you healthy by getting your blood pumping, working your lungs and moving your muscles.

However, to see results and build a positive relationship with food and exercise, you have to work on improving both together. Phrases such as “you can’t out-exercise an unhealthy diet” and “abs are made in the kitchen” have surged in prominence. And they’re not wrong, Katie says – a healthy lifestyle has to incorporate good eating habits and a physical activity routine.

“Overall, it’s so exciting to see patients make lifelong health changes and be able to assist them on that journey,” she adds.

Learn more about the nutrition services we offer at Bon Secours.

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