Dear Food Speak: I was thrilled my doctor gave me a menu for weight loss, until I started following it. Why is a menu not the help I thought it would be?
It's easy to get caught up in a love-hate relationship with a weight-loss menu.
Sounds like it was love at first sight when you realized a menu could singlehandedly map out your every food-related move. Menus make losing weight seem less overwhelming because they take care of all the guesswork on food choices, nutrient combinations, meal timing and portion control.
The honeymoon was over once you realized there's no one menu that works for everyone. But that's not grounds for divorcing yourself from menu planning altogether. Think more like mediation with some help from a registered dietitian.
When you visit an RD, you'll likely use a sample menu to learn healthy dietary concepts like balance, moderation and variety. An RD's main job is to work closely with you at customizing a menu that accounts for what makes you unique: medical problems, medications, adverse reactions to food, food preferences, cultural beliefs, daily schedules, physical fitness and finances.
RDs also are skilled at revising menus since the plan that made you lose weight may not get you through a weight plateau.
You may even feel like renewing your vows with menu planning once your RD informs you that sample menus aren't meant to be followed so literally. Single food choices or even a meal matters less than the average of what you eat over say a week's time. With time, the goal is for you to become proficient enough to plan your own menus.
Your relationship with menu planning will have stood the test of time once you truly see that there's more to weight control than menus. Successful weight loss means appreciating how complex changing one's life can be, including being prepared for inevitable lapses and relapses.
It also means having a solid support system, including an effective means for managing stress other than emotional eating. It includes heeding your God-given appetite signals and practicing mindful eating, as well as finding a joyful means to regularly exercise.
It also means saying no to deceptive food advertisers, including the dieting industry.
Last, but not least, it's seeking your natural weight on a continuous journey, not as an overnight fix.
Courtney Sansonetti is a medical nutrition therapist and certified diabetes educator for Rehabilitation Associates Inc. Her Food Speak column appears monthly. Email your questions to email@example.com.