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Natalie's eating plan

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Natalie reviews her diet plan

Frances Mahfood, Contributor

On January 4, I received a call at the Heart Foundation from Natalie. She was ready for a lifestyle change. "I want to lose weight," she stated with a passion for action. Natalie had gained more than 50 pounds during pregnancy. Her first visit to the Heart Foundation was on January 11, 2011. Her statistics were:

Weight: 176 pounds

Height: 5'8''

Age: 36 years old

BMI: 26.5 (body mass index is an estimate of body composition based on weight and height)

Body fat: 31.7 per cent

Waist circumference at navel: 37.5 inches

The first thing I did with Natalie was to set goals. We first calculated her calorie goal to lose weight (current weight times 12 equals calories needed to maintain your current weight. Natalie's maintenance calories are 2112 per day. Her calories for weight loss, therefore, had to be less). I put Natalie on a 1200 to 1500 gluten-free diet. (She has an intolerance for wheat products.)

Exercise regime

By subtracting 500 calories a day from Natalie's plan, it was estimated that she could lose about one pound a week. By subtracting about 1000 calories a day, she would lose up to two pounds a week, all depending on her exercise regime. Below 1200 calories, it is hard to meet your nutrient needs or feel satisfied enough to stick to a plan.

I encouraged Natalie to keep a food diary. I helped Natalie learn how to portion her food rather than count calories. She was able to eat a certain amount of food from each food group and combine her meals daily.

Some incentives for weight loss

Eat mindfully, and for Natalie to make sure she had a little protein with each meal, as it kept her full longer.

Eat every three to four hours to prevent overeating at the next meal.

Drink a lot of water during the day and before meals.

Eat two to three hours before bedtime so food can be properly digested.

Reduce starches in the evening.

No more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day.

I planned to see Natalie every two weeks, review her food diary, motivate and encourage her on her new lifestyle change. A healthy weight is not a diet, it's a lifestyle!

Frances Mahfood is a nutritionist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.