Have You Heard the Latest Craze About Dieting?

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Patricia Burch
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What if you could have your cake and eat it too.

A national fad called CICO- short for Calories in, Calories out— Promises just that for those of us looking to shed some pounds.

The pitch is straightforward: Eat whatever you want, junk food included, and still shrink your waistline- as long as every day you expend more calories than you consume.

It’s a simplified approach to eating that essentially views fruits and vegetables through the same prism as candies and soda. All that matters are the total caloric tally.

Although doctors and nutrition experts disagree. Being healthy isn’t just about weight lost alone, you have to consider the whole package. The people that adopt a CICO approach to eating might actually lose weight. But there’s a downside. Nutrient deficiencies or even malnutrition. You may not be providing all the nutrients your body needs if you are not paying attention to the types of foods you are putting in your body. This could mean osteoporosis later in life, increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and etcetera. People that are so obsessed with weight loss and being thin lose sight on the fact that being healthy is everything. It is far more important to eat healthy foods like broccoli, edamame, pecans, berries, pasta and olive oil that to go on some crazy weight-loss fad diet. Severely restricting calories or food groups, along with rapid weight loss, are likely to backfire for many reason, and the dieter will be left feeling frustrated. Research has proven that weight cycling—yo-yo dieting may increase the risk for more problems down the road, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Weight loss, in an unhealthy way, is never a good idea.

If you manage your calories to achieve weight loss it is important, but if important nutrients are missing, then muscle mass will decline, bone health, mental acuity and many other essential functions will be compromised. It is important to note that weight is not about the number on the scale, it is about healthy muscle mass and body fat distribution. So you may be asking if CICO is not the answer, then what is. I’m glad you asked. It is important for us to understand that a quick fix mentality is not the answer. It’s long tern life changes with healthy eating and exercise. Reduce Calories by cutting back on portion sizes. Cut back on your total food intake, and exercise regularly and consistently. I mean at least five to six days per week and consistently meaning week after week. Brisk walking along with cardiovascular exercise. Eating healthy is a process that involves learning healthier food choices, appropriate portions and regular activity.

Trust me if you get started now just before the holidays, set small goals-like to eat a few more veggies. Or I’ll eat less chocolate cake. Allowing you to enjoy the holidays, but shifting to a focus on a better lifestyle. When we shift to a healthier eating pattern and lifestyle, we are also more likely to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Remember CICO- Calorie in and Calorie out is not the answer. For more information on the latest craze about dieting, contact Lethia Lee at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension office 910-592-7161, or Lethia_Lee@ncsu.edu