I am fearful that the fact that I am overweight is going to limit my life expectancy. Recently my children have expressed concern and are afraid that I am not going to live very long. I know that I am overweight and because of it I have insulin dependent diabetes and significant joint pain. What can I do to begin to lose weight? I have tried diets in the past but have not had much success, but I am willing to try anything that may help. I feel like I eat pretty good but I do have a sweet tooth and sometimes eat my grandchildren’s sweet leftovers and help them clean their plates. Thanks.

You can definitely begin your weight loss journey without the use of a restrictive or complicated “diet”. I would begin by recording a few days of what you are eating and drinking. Remember to record approximate portion sizes and begin checking calorie amounts on the labels of the foods that you can. This will help you get a general idea of how many calories you may be taking in per day. Record even the foods that you may only take a few “bites” of. These foods certainly contain calories and can add to your overall daily calorie intake. I would recommend that you use the Nutritional Needs Calculator located on the Healthy Balance website to determine approximately how many calories you need to take for weight loss. Remember that healthy weight loss begins by achieving a calorie reduction of approximately 500 calories a day. This can come by you reducing 500 calories (eliminate two sodas, choose broiled fish over broiled burger or skip the fancy coffee drink) or reduce calories by 250 and then engage in physical activity that would burn 250 calories. However, you mentioned that you have been having joint pain and I am not sure about your level of physical activity. Your doctor may be able to assist you in determining what you can safely engage in regarding exercise.

You would be surprised how many of the calories that we eat come from food from other people’s plates. It is easy to take the last few bites of a child’s cookie or brownie. It is also easy to not let food go to waste and finish their last few chicken tenders or potato chips. Many people do not record these “nibbles” into their daily food log, but they can contribute in upwards of 300+ calories per day! Make sure you are getting your own plate for all food and try to take only one portion of whatever it is you are choosing. Also try to avoid eating standing up. Many people eat too many calories while standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide what they want to eat. I would encourage you to get a plate, one portion and sit and focus on the flavor of the food. This can help you to feel more satisfied.

To assist in your weight loss goals, try filling up on fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods. Start your lunch out with a broth based vegetable soup. This may help to fill you up and prevent you from overeating. Add canned mushrooms and fresh zucchini to spaghetti sauces and combine broccoli, peppers, onions and squash together for a great vegetable stir-fry. Switch to whole wheat bread and pasta and choose brown rice over white rice. Finally, you may want to meet with a local registered dietitian to really help you plan out meals and help you to jump start your weight loss.

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