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Weight control is a global problem that most of us can relate to. In wealthier countries where food is plentiful, weight loss and maintenance is a concern for many. On the other hand, healthy weight gain or access to nutrient-dense foods is an issue for the poor. Lack of understanding regarding appropriate portion sizes and food-related nutritional information, combined with misconceptions based on the latest dietary trends, contribute to lifelong struggles with weight control. The internet is awash with nutrition advice and miracle food products from unqualified experts looking to take advantage of the uninformed consumer.

A balanced diet, based on moderation and variety, is essential for successful weight management. Another common problem is that many of us tend to underestimate how much we eat or drink. Keeping a diary or food diary helps us get an accurate food history. It’s important to track every meal, snack, and drink for several days, including at least one weekend. Our eating habits on the weekends tend to be a little different than on weekdays due to holidays, restaurant meals, and time changes. There are free calorie counters available online that make it easy to keep a food diary. In addition, there are websites that offer a free nutrition database as well. Make sure your nutrition data source is a qualified nutrition professional. A qualified nutrition professional has a nutrition degree, board certification, and related work experience.

An accurate dietary history helps us identify dietary issues such as inadequate food portion sizes, excessive consumption of sugary drinks, lack of healthy protein foods, late night snacking, regular consumption of fried snacks, calorie intake extra when eating snacks in front of the TV, etc. The goal is to make small, incremental changes that address the identified dietary issues and that can be sustained throughout life. This is in stark contrast to following a weight loss diet that drastically cuts calories, cuts whole food groups like grains, or replaces regular food with diet shakes, etc. This type of weight loss is difficult to maintain as we tend to revert to old eating habits due to a lack of understanding of dietary issues.

Reliable websites offered by some qualified nutrition professionals also support specialized ethnic dietary requirements, such as vegetarian diets or nutritional facts for Indian cuisine. Mobile phones make it easy to keep a food diary even when you’re not in front of your computer; Calorie counting apps help you stay on track. Take advantage of self-help tools from qualified experts and get smarter health.

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