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What to consider when choosing a weight management plan

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Registered dietitian, Leanne Keizer, summarises some of the key things you should consider when choosing a weight management plan for yourself.
  • The primary goal for an effective weight management plan is to avoid the “on-diet” and “off-diet” mentality. This kind of thinking is not sustainable, which means that if you do lose weight with a quick-fix fad-type diet, you are likely to regain the weight when you “switch” off diet again. Ask yourself whether the weight management plan you are considering is practical within the context of your current lifestyle. Making small sustainable changes to your day-to-day which you can implement in the long-term will give you a much better shot at achieving your long-term weight management and health goals.

  • Diets which exclude whole food groups can be difficult to adhere to, and are not recommended in terms of a balanced and healthy diet. Every food group has a unique set of nutrients to offer, and removing these foods from the diet can cause deficiencies in the long-term. For example, diets extremely low in carbohydrates tend to be lower in fibre, and we know that fibre is protective against colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  Ask yourself whether your weight management plan is excluding any food group. A balanced sustainable plan is one in which all foods fit and have a role to play.
     
  • Body weight and size is not the only measure of health. The goal of an effective weight management plan is to nourish your body by meeting all of your nutrient requirements while taking the required steps to achieve a healthy body weight. Ask yourself whether the weight management plan you are considering is nourishing your body or depleting your body.
     
  • Ask yourself whether there is evidence behind the weight management plan you are considering. Unfortunately, there are many people giving nutrition advice to the public who are not qualified to do so. Be aware that the advice they are giving may not be evidence based or substantiated with research. Registered dietitians and nutritionists who are members of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) are qualified to practice in the field of nutrition and dietetics and are a reliable source of evidence-based nutrition information.
     
  • Consider your own medical history and risk factors. Consider whether the weight management plan you are considering has the potential to pose any harm. The role of nutrition is to promote health and wellbeing, and if a weight management plan has any potential to cause harm given your unique set of circumstances, it is best to seek professional medical advice before embarking on such a plan.

  • Are the foods included in your weight management plan accessible and acceptable from a social, cultural and environmental point of view? Your weight management plan should be consistent with your situation and values as an individual. Consider the availability and affordability of the foods in your plan, and whether any aspect of the plan will conflict with your personal beliefs.

For any further information, please contact the Pick n Pay Health Hotline registered dietitian, Leanne Tee on 0800 11 22 88 or e-mail her on healthhotline@pnp.co.za.

To find a registered dietitian in your area, go to the ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) website at www.adsa.org.za

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