What about the happily ever after? After the fasting, after the pre-packaged foods, after the maintenance?
Despite all the structure and support weight loss programs offer, only a slim 5% of dieters are able to keep their weight off after two years in the real world. Keeping it off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the real clinchers.
Fewer people dieting and more people losing weight more successfully is what Dr. Wayne Callaway, an endocrinologist and member of the current Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the USDA, would like to see.
Callaway says the new dietary guidelines offer suggestions for people to lose weight safely and keep it off.
The guidelines also redefine the language a bit and now talk about healthy weight rather than desireable or ideal. Callaway said that of all the people who went on a weight loss program last year, only 10% of them listed better health as a reason for wanting to lose weight.
Callaway says the new National Dietary Guidelines, which came out last November, recommend a steady weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound a week as being the safest way to reduce.
"There are hazards to rapid weight loss, but the most likely is the binging that often takes place after getting off the program," Callaway said. "Weight is a lifetime issue. There is no sense going on a program for 13 weeks and lose 40 pounds only to gain it back," he said.
Callaway said potential dieters should ask themselves if they really need to lose weight and if so, realistically how much. He said most Americans don't need to lose as much as they think, and often a 10 or 15 pound weight loss can prove very beneficial.
"It's when we go too far too fast that we get into trouble," he said. "Having to attend a wedding or a bar mitzvah in two weeks is not sufficient reason for losing weight in a hurry."
Overall, the guidelines set out seven rules:
1. Eat a variety of foods.
2. Maintain healthy weight.
3. Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Total fat should provide 30% or less of calories, saturated fat less than 10% of calories.
4. Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and grains. Vegetables should average 3-5 servings a day and fruits 2-4 servings.
5. Use sugars only in moderation.
6. Use salt and sodium only in moderation.
7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
For a copy of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans (HG 232), write Consumer Information Center, Department 514-X, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.