The following key suggestions for successful weight loss are adapted from the
Johns Hopkins White Paper, Nutrition and Weight Control, and the University of
California, Berkeley Wellness Letter.
• Monitor and keep a record of caloric intake, calories expended in physical
activity, and weight. Applications on a computer, smartphone, or fitness
tracker can help you keep track of calories expended, calories consumed, and
• Occasionally overeating need not derail your overall weight-loss plan. As
Alexander Pope (b. 1688) noted, “to err is human.” All we can do is just get
back on a healthy diet and exercise plan after a lapse at a party or during a
• When preparing foods, manage portion sizes (keep them small). Measure and
weigh your food—at least until you know the number of calories in a serving
of the food you eat. Minimize the consumption of processed food.
• Control your food environment—don’t buy tempting foods you should not
• Eat at home and avoid “bargain” mega-meals and super-sized drinks offered at
• When serving food, use small plates, bowls, and glasses.
• Eat high-volume low-calorie density foods. In general, whole or minimally
processed plant-based foods have a low caloric density.
• Be wary about drinking high-calorie beverages, including beer, wine, mixed
drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), juices, and coffee or tea if they are
loaded with sugar and cream. Remember that alcohol is calorie-dense at
seven calories per gram or 198 calories per ounce, and after a few drinks, your
will power to hold back on consumption of too much food and drink is likely
to be impaired.
• Beverages with artificial sweeteners are preferable to SSBs but water is superior
to diet drinks for weight control and health.
• Involve family, friends, colleagues, and your health care provider in your quest
for a healthier lifestyle. Social support, even a friendly competition, may
help you to start and stick to a diet and exercise plan and increase the odds
that you will be successful.
• Remember that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that you
have a full stomach. Okinawans stop eating when 80% full: They call this
hara hachi bu.
• Minimize sedentary activities such as television watching, gaming, and the use
of other electronic devices.
• Avoid processed foods; most have too much added unhealthy fat, sugar, and
salt. Sugar is your main enemy. Excess glucose stimulates insulin that
increases fat storage, and excess fructose (or ethanol) goes directly to fat.
• Avoid foods that lend to unthinking robotic consumption of food when
you are distracted. A good example of this would be munching chips while
• Don’t use fats or oils for cooking or on your salads. Water on non-stick pans
is usually all that is needed for cooking. Remember that fat is calorie-dense
at nine calories per gram or 255 calories per ounce.
• Consider whether to make changes gradually or all at once. To avoid any
health-related problems, it is important that you consult with your health care
provider if you are on medication and are being treated for a health condition
such as high blood pressure or diabetes before a dramatic change in diet or
other lifestyle changes.
• When it comes to exercise, gradual increases are essential to avoid soreness
and injury, but for a healthy person, a diet change can be either gradual or all
at once. Even for healthy individuals, some experts advise to change diets
gradually, but I don’t think this is necessary. My advice is to find a diet plan
that is healthy for the long term and then just start it and maintain it—
recognizing that temporary setbacks will occur. Just be careful at parties and
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel