RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There are lots of things in this world that can pack on the pounds—stress, lack of exercise, the unhealthy food we shove down on our way home from work. And now you can add dieting to the list. A new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has found that postmenopausal women are less likely to lose weight on a diet than they would if they became “restrained eaters,” people who watch what they eat but don’t focus their efforts on a short-term diet program.
THE DETAILS: A total of 1,071 women (average age 60) participated in the study. They were asked survey questions about eating habits and how prone they were to lose control over how much they ate, as well as whether they were currently on a diet. The researchers then calculated each participant’s body-mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity. As a whole, women who were on diets had higher BMIs than the restrained eaters. Women on diets were also more likely to lose control over what they ate. Their scores on that portion of the survey were, on average, 40 percent higher than the restrained nondieters.
WHAT IT MEANS: Slow and steady wins the weight-loss race, not 3-week binge cures that claim to melt away pounds in minutes. And even though the dieters in this study weighed more than the nondieters, it is possible to go on a diet and see your weight fall. You just have think of the diet as a way to learn long-term eating strategies. “When you approach dieting with the perspective that you’re making lifestyle changes, you’ll be more successful,” says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, RD, PhD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association with a clinical practice in the Sacramento area.
Diet or no, here are a few ways to make healthy, long-term improvements in your eating habits: