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You are how you eat

March 02, 2009

Re "Weight loss boils down to calories," Feb. 26

I am stunned! The Times reports that the longest, largest and most rigorous test of diet strategies concluded that cutting calories is most important when it comes to losing weight.

Does this mean that eating too much causes an increase in weight, and eating less causes weight to drop? Who would have thought it?

Robert H. Congelliere

San Pedro

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The Times' unfortunate headline obscures the real significance of this study: There is no one right way to eat or diet to lose weight.

Christopher Gardner of Stanford University says it best when he underscores that health professionals have no right to push one diet over another: "If one of these [dietary] approaches is more satiating, where you will not be hungry or have cravings, that is the one that will work for you." This key insight trumps any of the nonsense about counting calories.

In my private practice as a registered dietitian, I have learned that very few clients want to live every day counting calories to lose weight or stay healthy. The real reward of following a diet that matches your energy needs is the opportunity to feel satisfied -- to not be burdened with fighting the desire to eat.

That is the beauty of figuring out what approach to food works for any one person. I have had many clients tell me: "I can't go back to eating the old way. I feel too good." All the calorie counting in the world can't trump that.

Bonnie Modugno

Santa Monica

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How ironic that no mention was made in the article that last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

The ranks of those with eating disorders include not just anorexics and bulimics but compulsive overeaters. All use food as a coping mechanism -- a way to avoid pain, loneliness and other negative feelings.

Buried in your story was the observation that "people who attended two-thirds or more of the counseling sessions over the two years lost an average of 22 pounds, compared with the average loss of 9 pounds."

Yes, calories matter, but don't count out emotional support.

Karen Lindell

Camarillo

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