There are different causes and types of obesity, so it is essential to get a medical examination before embarking on any kind of weight-loss diet. Some types of obesity are pathological, caused by malfunctions of the hypothalamus. Others may be genetic or linked to stress. Some cases, however, are simply caused by overeating.

Ask your doctor to help you plan a strategy for overcoming your weight problem, adapted to your particular needs. When you do start a diet, make sure it is not too restrictive to be harmful over the long term.

Here are some simple recommendations that can help you stick to your diet and achieve your goal.

Controlling your appetite

1. Buying food

– go shopping for food AFTER meals, not before

– make a shopping list beforehand

– avoid buying prepared foods whenever possible

– don’t carry a lot of extra money (so you won’t be tempted to buy those little treats!)

2. Diet plan

– plan menus and limit the amount of food you eat

– replace snacks with exercise

– eat at regular hours

– don’t accept food offered by others

3. Storing and serving food

– store foods out of sight

– keep all your food in the same place

– don’t leave plates on the table after eating

– use smaller plates and cooking utensils

– leave the table immediately after eating

– don’t keep leftovers

4. Parties and vacations

– drink less alcohol

– plan what you are going to eat at a party

– have a low-calorie, nutritional snack before a dinner party

– politely refuse food that is offered to you by others

– don’t get discouraged by the occasional lapse

5. Limiting your food intake

– put your fork down after each mouthful

– chew each mouthful completely before swallowing

– prepare only one serving at a time

– always leave a little food on your plate

– take a short break halfway through meals

– don’t do anything else while eating (read, watch TV, etc.)

Luckily, you’ll find plenty of vitamins in grains, legumes, fruits, seafood and lean meats. Include these food groups in your diet and you’ll protect yourself from diseases including, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, caratacts, depression, pellagra, anaemia, macular degeneration, thyroid disease and memory loss.

Any effective diet has to be balanced, providing you with all the nutrients you need, in reasonable amounts.

You will probably reduce your intake of lipids (fat), but you still need a minimum of fat if your body is to continue functioning properly. Your minimum daily intake should be composed of at least 0.3 ounces (about 10 grams) of butter or 1 ounce (30 grams) of cream, and 1 ounce (30 grams or 2 tablespoons) of unsaturated fatty acids (oil).

Saturated fats should be eliminated more or less completely, to be replaced by unsaturated fatty acids, contained in:

– olive oil

– colza oil

– peanut oil

– duck or goose fat … and polyunsaturated fatty acids, contained in:

– sunflower seed oil

– corn oil

– grape seed oil

– fish oil

Both provide you with fatty acids that your body cannot synthesize on its own, and which it needs to form substances involved in the composition of cells and tissues.

You will also probably reduce your intake of glucides (sugars), but as already mentioned, there are two kinds of glucides:

– simple (rapid assimilation) sugars, found in sweet foods: pastry, biscuits, cake, candy, chocolate, soft drinks, etc.

– complex (slow assimilation) sugars, contained in grains, dried fruit and vegetables, beans, bread, potatoes and some vegetables and fruit.

Since complex sugars take much longer to digest than simple sugars, they provide you with energy for much longer periods of time. For that reason your diet should contain a reasonable amount of complex sugars. The worst thing you can do is combine fat foods with simple sugars: fries and a soft drink, pastry, chocolate etc.

As for protein, you should make sure to ingest at least 6 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Try to balance animal and vegetables sources of protein.

Animal proteins

– beef steak: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) = 20 grams of protein

– poultry: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) of white meat = 20 grams of protein

– pork: 1 pork chop = 15 grams of protein / 1 slice of ham = 20 grams of protein

– fish: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) of filet = 15 to 25 grams of protein

– 1 egg = 6 grams of protein

– milk: ½ a quart = 20 grams of protein

– cheddar type cheese: 2 ounces (60 grams) = 20 grams of protein

Vegetable proteins

– bread: half a loaf of French bread = 5 grams of protein

– grains: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) of oats or corn = 10 to 15 grams of protein

– pasta: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) = 9 grams of protein

– whole grain rice: 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams) = 3 grams of protein

– legumes (lentils, chick peas, white beans): a 7 ounce (200 gram) serving contains 18 grams of protein (about the same as a steak)

Foods you should avoid or eat very little of

– almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, coconuts, pine nuts, cashew nuts, etc.

– avocado

– bananas

– butter

– cocoa, chocolate

– sweetbreads, liver pate, sausages

– soft drinks

– pie, jam, cake, sweetened fruit mixes

– canned fruit in syrup

– fresh cream

– cheese

– icecream

– lard, margarine, mayonnaise

– honey

– very salted foods (crackers, processed meat, smoked meat or fish, olives, shrimp, commercial salad dressings and sauces, capers, pickles, etc.

– Eating a lot of vegetables will provide you with beneficial fibre.

– Remember your body can’t burn the fat you eat without carbohydrates. These give you energy and help raise your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories. ‘Star’ carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, dry beans, corn, peas and winter squash. It takes longer for the body to break them down which means less absorption of starch and calories during digestion.

– Limit yourself to 2 fruits a day, because they contain a lot of sugar. Also avoid sweetened fruit juice.

– The following vegetables effectively stimulate the evacuation of waste: celery, chicory, fennel, parsley, dandelion.

– Drink about six full glasses of water a day.