What is the safest way to stay slim and trim?

The “safest” way to stay healthy and to be at an adequate weight for your height is to follow a balanced diet and get daily physical activity. OK, I know this sounds simplistic, and I do realize that it can be a daily struggle for many people to eat properly and to get exercise. Fast food restaurants, convenient/processed food and modern technology (riding lawnmowers, remote controls, etc) have unfortunately made it difficult for us to achieve optimal health. However, making a few dietary and lifestyle changes can help one to get healthy and fit. Eat balanced meals including foods from all of the food groups. Limit intake of red meat and try eating more chicken, fish, and vegetarian based entrees. Make it a daily goal to eat 7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Be mindful while snacking—make sure you are truly hungry before reaching for a snack food and then keep healthy snacks around. Try carrots dipped in hummus, rice cakes topped with peanut butter, flaxseed mixed in yogurt. Challenge yourself to move more! Kristi Tuck has a great column with many ideas to help you increase your energy expenditure (burn calories!)

I do not think following restrictive diets are “safe” options for staying slim. Many times these diet plans are not nutritionally sound. Some urge you to eliminate entire food groups (the bread group, for example) and this can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Others suggest following calorie levels that are too low for your body. Those that complete the “diet” many times return to old eating habits and will regain any lost weight…and add a few more pounds. The weight loss/gain/loss cycle is not good for you and may increase your risk for heart disease. Stick with a healthy balanced diet. If you need help with managing this, try seeing a registered dietitian for some assistance.

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