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South Texas Living

Diet Detective’s random health, nutrition advice

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May 28, 2014 | 3,693 views | Post a comment

By Charles Platkin, Ph.D.

These tips relate to columns I have written in the past or will write in the future.

•Create a “stress snack eating” kit filled with portion-controlled, low-calorie snacks to keep in your office or at home so that it’s available when needed.

•Control over your life doesn’t arise from dodging and avoiding difficulties but from coping with the issues (minor and major) that come your way or that you create.

•Feeling confident that you can change a behavior is one of the single biggest predictors of being able to change.

•”Self-efficacy” is the belief in your ability to “organize and execute” whatever behavior you would like to modify. It’s the confidence that you can attain what you want, and it’s especially important if you want to control your weight.

•There is nothing shameful about trying, failing, experimenting, and trying again. In fact, you can learn from every situation you encounter along the dieting, healthy-eating highway.

•Excuses are the enemy of responsibility, change, and success.

•It’s not just a slogan: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat a healthy breakfast (and I don’t mean a bagel) and you won’t spend all day eating bad foods because you’re trying to catch up on lost calories.

•Want a quick snack? Low-calorie soups -- no more than 80 calories a cup -- are a great option. Studies show that if you eat a low-cal soup before a meal you’ll eat less.

•It’s not just about numbers. Do you have a little extra zip? Are you sleeping better? Feeling healthier? More energetic? If so, you are probably continuing to benefit from your workouts and diet even if you are not seeing the numbers on your scale going down.

•Change is not easy. We all have things we want to change in our lives, but why is change so difficult? Mostly because we do not treat it seriously. If you want to change, you need to make a true commitment.

•Change is not magic. You need to plan and practice, research, evaluate, reformat, and practice some more.

•Gain confidence to make a change. Draw from past success; model others that are doing it; get support from others who are doing it; measure how you’re doing; educate yourself on the best ways (cooking classes); learn by trial and error.

•Blaming (yourself or others) allows you to avoid taking a necessary action; it gets you off the hook from acting responsibly.

•According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, goal setting increases your chances of “making and maintaining improvements in nutrition-related behaviors” by 84 percent.

•Minimize overeating crises by anticipating obstacles and planning for how you will overcome them.

•Research shows that families who eat together have higher intakes of fruit and vegetables and lower intakes of soda and other high-calorie drinks. Eat a home-cooked meal with your family at least three to five times a week.

•No time to cook? Batch cook one day per week. Make all your dinners for the week in one day and freeze them. Go online for healthy recipes:;;

•Faster than fast food, healthier than fast food -- use healthy frozen dinners in a pinch. Examples: Lean Cuisine; Amy’s; Healthy Choice; Smart Ones.

•Get your kids involved. Kids should be involved in choosing and preparing the food they eat. Have them help prepare the shopping list, plan meals, go along to the supermarket, and help cook the meal.

•Mentally rehearse eating healthy (step-by-step) in your favorite restaurant. According to The American Journal of Surgery, when you do that you’ll be tricking your brain into having an experience you didn’t actually have, and surgeons who practice their skills using mental rehearsal perform better in the operating room.

CHARLES PLATKIN, Ph.D., is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of

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