Suspect you have a sluggish metabolism? You might have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, which afflicts about 25 percent of American women — many of whom don't know they have the condition, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "The thyroid gland controls your body's metabolism, so one of the first signs that it may be off is an inability to lose weight," explains Pamela Peeke, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After Forty. Your doctor can determine if you're suffering from hypothyroidism by running a blood test. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you'll be treated with a synthetic thyroid supplement, which you will need to take for the rest of your life (it will return your metabolism to normal, so it should be easier to drop unwanted pounds).
Americans are busy, especially during the holiday season. Many people head out for fast food while shopping at the mall or while taking a break from decorating. Matt says we need to make wise choices when eating out. While one in every four meals is eaten on the road at a restaurant or drive-thru, we can still enjoy our favorite foods without suffering the consequences. The economics of the restaurant business are so different than any other business. Restaurants don’t abide by the same rules that grocery stores do, because there are no labels that indicate fat, calories, sodium, etc. Matt says many Americans eat like they shop. We are “shopping for calories to stuff into” our bodies’ closets. “What we are buying when we eat at a restaurant is fat, calories and sodium. More is not a bargain, not by a long shot,” says Matt. Portions are oversized, fattier and more unhealthy than ever. Even though there are calorie-dense items on the menus of America’s restaurants, Matt says there are tons of delicious ways to cut hundreds, even thousands, of calories from your daily diet. BEST OF THE BEST AND WORST OF THE WORST The top 5 worst foods: * Worst Food Invention, pg. 39, Domino’s Chicken Carbonara Breadbowl Pastae, 1,480 calories, 56 g fat (24 saturated, 1 g trans), 2,280 mg sodium, 188 g carbs * Worst Salad, pg. 49, California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad with Fresh Avocado, 1,399 calories, 10 g saturated fat, 1,712 mg. sodium, 123 g carbs * Worst Drink, pg. 45, Cold Stone PB&C Shake (Gotta Have It size), 2010 calories, 131 g fat (68 g saturated, 2.5 g trans), 880 mg sodium, 153 g sugars * Worst Kids’ Meal, pg. 42, Cheesecake Factory Kids’ Pasta with Alfredo Sauce, 1,803 calories, 87 g saturated fat, 876 mg sodium, 70 g carbohydrates * Worst Food in America, pg. 53, Outback Steakhouse Baby Back Ribs, 2,310 calories, 177 g fat (67 g saturated), 3,027 g sodium, 58 g carbs The top 5 best foods: * Best Side, pg. 24, Wendy’s Chili, small, 190 calories, 6 g fat, 830 mg sodium, 14 g protein * Best Drive-Thru Mexican, pg. 30, Taco Bell Grilled Steak Soft Tacos fresco style (2), 310 calories, 9 g fat, 1,210 mg sodium, 18 g protein * Best Sandwich, pg. 24, Quiznos Roadhouse Steak Sammie, 250 calories, 7 g fat, 980 mg sodium * Best Pasta, pg. 32, Olive Garden Linguine alla Marinara, 430 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 900 mg sodium * Best Ice Cream, pg. 84, Ben & Jerry’s, Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, 240 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated), 22 g sugars EAT THIS, NOT THAT * Chicken Sandwich: Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Club, pg. xviii, (410 calories, 12 g fat – 5 g saturated, 1,460 g sodium) vs. Panera Chipotle Chicken (990 calories, 56 g fat -15 g saturated, 1 g trans, 2,370 mg sodium) * Coffee Starbucks Venti Espresso Frappuccino Blended Coffee, pg. xxiii, (290 calories, 3.5 g fat – 2.5 g saturated, 57 g sugars) vs. Dunkin Donuts Large Frozen Cappuccino with Skim Milk (550 calories, 0 g fat, 105 g sugar) * Breakfast: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, pg. 29, (300 calories, 12 g fat – 5 g saturated, 820 mg sodium, 18 g protein) vs. Panera Bacon, Egg and Cheese Grilled Breakfast Sandwich, (510 calories, 24 g fat - 10 g saturated, .5 trans, 1,060 mg sodium) * Fast Food Burger: Wendy’s ¼ Pound Single, pg. 34, (470 calories, 21 g fat, - 8 g saturated, 1 g trans, 940 mg sodium, 27 g protein) vs. TGI Friday’s Cheddar Burger, (1,310 calories) * Pizza: Dominoe’s Thin Crust Ham and Pineapple Pizza (2 slices), pg. 30 (294 calories, 14 g fat – 5 g saturated, 690 mg sodium) vs. Sbarro Stuffed Pepperoni (1 slice), pg 38, (960 calories)
Preferred tastes: Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating your greens, you might not like a diet filled with salads; but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes for meals might be more up your alley. Ask yourself whether you will enjoy the foods on a given diet, or if it will feel like a “diet” food that you won’t be able to stick with long-term.

Instead of piling everything on one plate, bring food to the table in individual courses. For the first two courses, bring out soup or veggies such as a green salad or the most filling fruits and vegetables. By the time you get to the more calorie-dense foods, like meat and dessert, you’ll be eating less or may already be full. Nothing wrong with leftovers!
Losing weight quickly is dangerous and comes back quickly. You need to slowly change your habits and make small changes you can build on. Start by being more active; start walking every day and start adding in more and more jogging. Cut out sugary drinks and focus on adding in more veggies and lean proteins in your diet while whittling out processed/fried foods. Be kind to yourself and make the changes for your own happiness, not anything or anyone else.
Stress may contribute to abdominal fat, according to several studies, including a recent one at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you're stressed, hormones like cortisol stimulate your appetite, slow your metabolism down and encourage fat storage inside your abdomen," explains Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Clinic at the University of Utah. So what's a frazzled girl to do? "Find an activity that reduces stress for you, whether it's listening to soothing music or taking yoga, and do it daily," advises Talbott.
Harvie, M. N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011, May). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: A randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (London), 35(5), 714–727. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/

Spoon Guru nutritionist Isabel Butler (MSc, ANutr) recommends that “the best way to reduce weight and maintain the weight loss is by simply eating a balanced and healthy diet, without refusing yourself particular foods… If you do cut out foods, you need to make sure your diet is still balanced and you are getting the nutrients your body needs from other sources.”  


Altering your habits and changing your lifestyle isn't easy, but the improvements you make will last you for far longer than any fad diet or quick weight-loss fix will. If you're serious about losing in a healthy way and staying at your goal once you reach it, then focus on your lifestyle. Think of it as long-term improvement. You may not drop dozens of pounds in a week like some fad diets claim, but your body will be healthier and your lower body mass will be much easier to maintain. 

This became a running theme. Although FoodSwitch boasts more than 250,000 products in its database, I consistently came up empty (add La Croix, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to the list). Was I in the wrong area of the store? Was I supposed to shop at Whole Foods where the less common, “healthier” brands are? That said, FoodSwitch constantly updates its database via crowdsourcing, prompting users to help out by sending a picture of the package, bar code, ingredients and nutrition panel when an item is not found.

Determine your weight loss goals. Recall that 1 pound (~0.45 kg) equates to approximately 3500 calories, and reducing daily caloric intake relative to estimated BMR by 500 calories per day will theoretically result in a loss of 1 pound a week. It is generally not advisable to lose more than 2 pounds per week as it can have negative health effects, i.e. try to target a maximum daily calorie reduction of approximately 1000 calories per day. Consulting your doctor and/or a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) is recommended in cases where you plan to lose more than 2 pounds per week.

If you drink regular, go to 2%. If you already drink 2%, go down another notch to 1% or skim milk. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent. Once you train your taste buds to enjoy skim milk, you’ll have cut the calories in the whole milk by about half and trimmed the fat by more than 95 percent. One disclaimer: There are times when fat-free dairy isn’t the best option.

“Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food,” Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
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