NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, November 13, 2015, 2:53 PM
What a waist of time!
The average woman will have spent more than three years on a diet by the time she’s 30, according to a new survey.
That balloons to six years by the time they hit their 40s. And worse, ladies are only losing around four pounds each time they deprive themselves, according to the study of 1,000 women by Forza Supplements. And research shows that 95% of dieters regain that lost weight within five years.
Emer Smith from Watkins Glen, N.Y. is fed up with losing the battle of the bulge despite starving herself.
“Ugh. When have I not been on a diet?” says Smith, 33 who has spent a chunk of the past decade losing and regaining the same stubborn 20 pounds.
“I made a very brief foray into vegetarianism that lasted all of a couple of days,” she says. “But my body needs protein.”
She had more luck with going low-carb with the South Beach and Atkins and strictly counting her calories for five to six months in her 20s, when she dropped 20 pounds.
But she gained the weight back as soon as she stopped.
“It was too restrictive,” she says. “My diet went down the tube.”
And that’s precisely the problem, dietitians say. About 45 million Americans diet each year and drop a whopping $ 33 billion on weight loss products, yet most are doomed to fall back into bad habits.
“When you eliminate an entire food group, especially if that was a food group you eat too much of – you’re going to lose weight. Initially,” allows Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
“And I say ‘initially’ because most people can’t eliminate their favorite food for their entire lives, and that’s why we have the problem with yo-yo dieting.”
Most of these quick fixes aren’t sustainable, and stress at work and at home leads eaters back to comfort foods that they already have built a lasting relationship with.
A 22-year-old New York college student, who prefers not to be named, says she was stuck in that weight cycling trap for the past four years.
She would go on Jenny Craig for a couple of months and lose three or four pounds – or she even managed to drop 20 during her senior year of high school – but she always gained it back as soon as she stopped eating those prepackaged meals.
She repeated this cycle five times in her first few years of college.
Some 95% of yo-yo dieters gain that weight back within five years.
“I didn’t want to sit down in my dorm room as a freshman and microwave a Jenny Craig meal. And I was too embarrassed to eat them in public,” she says. “So then I’d go off the diet, and I gained more weight.”
She also tried the Weight Watchers app as a quick fix for a week or two at a time and shed a couple of pounds, but that wasn’t any more sustainable than Jenny Craig was.
So she went to Manhattan dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, whose F-Factor Diet program focuses on fiber-rich nutrition and preaches lifelong weight maintenance over weight loss.
“This gave me the tools to be able to go on a date, and not be stressed about eating out,” says the student, who’s lost 26 pounds – and kept it off – since July.
“I learned, ‘Fiber and protein in every meal make losing weight no big deal,’ and I have that little slogan in my head all the time,” the new convert says. “If I get thrown in a boozy brunch with my girlfriends, I know to order an egg-white omelet with spinach in it, so I can have that social experience while still maintaining what I need to do to lose weight.”
And yes, Zuckerbrot lets her eat carbs and drink alcohol in moderation because she recognizes that “diets” per se don’t work.
“SS many diets are so restrictive – they’re juice cleanses, or no carbs, or no alcohol – and there’s no point in being a size 2 or no point even being healthy enough to live to be 100 if you’re miserable,” says Zuckerbrot.
“Anyway, if you’re trying a quick or temporary weight loss fix, then that weight loss is only going to be temporary, and gaining back will be very quick.”
Park Avenue dietitian Gans agrees. Most of her clients come in wanting to cut out all carbohydrates – which they can’t resist avoiding for too long – or cutting out meat to go vegetarian.
But when they cut out all of one food group, they just start over-eating another.
“We’re a microwave society that wants everything quick and easy, but weight loss long-term means making small changes over a long length of time,” says Gans, author of the “Small Change Diet.”
“When people only understand yo-yo dieting, they haven’t learned how to actually eat healthy,” she says. “Eliminating the bread on your sandwich and just focusing on the chicken doesn’t mean it’s OK to eat a ton of chicken. Or I know a lot of vegetarians who eat too much cheese or nuts. Their portion sizes are askew and they still end up gaining weight.”
A good rule of thumb is filling half your plate with veggies, and then letting one quarter be a healthy grain like quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat bread, and the remaining quarter as your lean protein, which can be chicken, turkey, fish – or yes, even beef.
“Nothing should be off-limits,” she says. “It’s just about balancing your plate.”