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5 Weight-Loss Secrets for Arthritis Sufferers

For people with arthritis, achieving a healthy weight can reduce pain and halt the disease’s advance. Discover small dietary changes that can make a big difference.

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Being pointed in the right direction can be enough to get you to lose weight. These five tactics will give you the everyday secrets you need to start right now.

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1. Cut Fat

Cutting back on small amounts of fatty food goes further towards lightening your load than cutting the same amount of carbs. But the kind of fat you eat is also important. Saturated fat – the kind you’re most likely to consume – is worst for overall health because it’s most closely tied with cardiovascular risks.

Here’s an easy benchmark for knowing if a fat is saturated: if it is solid at room temperature, it’s probably saturated fat. That includes butter, some cheeses and the fat found on meats.

Other types of fat, like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats in oils such as canola, can actually be good for you. The bottom line is that you should cut total fat and switch to healthier fats to improve your overall wellbeing.

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2. Pare Portions

One reason people eat so much is that they tend to eat large portions. Research shows that people usually finish their plates no matter how high they’re piled, even if they already feel full. Fortunately, portions are relatively simple to control.

Try one of these tricks for cutting your portion size:

  1. Use a smaller dish. It might sound ridiculous, but it works. You can’t put as much food on a salad plate as on a dinner plate. Psychologically, you’re just not as inclined to eat as heartily and quickly if your plate will be empty in 45 seconds.
  2. Keep the second serving far away. If you put the extra chicken or mashed potatoes on the table, all you have to do is reach over to get to them. If they are back in the kitchen (and even better, already put away), you’ll be less inclined to eat mindlessly.
  3. After every bite of food, put your fork down. Don’t pick it up until you’ve thoroughly chewed and swallowed the previous bite. The goal is both to slow down your eating and to eat less.

(Photo: Miiicha/iStockpohto)

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3. Cut the ‘Bad’ Carbs

Avoid ‘bad’ carbohydrates like soft drinks, sweets, cakes and cookies. Instead, go for carbohydrates that have a low Glycaemic Index (GI), like pasta, barley, couscous, grainy breads and cereals, legumes such as kidney beans and lentils, starchy vegetables and low-fat dairy products. These foods tend to keep you satisfied for longer and stop you going back for second servings.

High-GI foods like white bread, white rice, potato and many refined breakfast cereals – are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body.

When making food choices, choose foods that are low in saturated fat, salt and sugar and that provide a good source of fibre.

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4. Tame Your Appetite

We tend to think appetite is the equivalent of the ’empty’ gauge on a dashboard: it lets you know when you’re low on fuel, so you stop to fill up.

In practice, however, there’s a better way of describing the mechanisms of appetite. Researchers say it is related to the choices we make based on learnt desires. Appetite is a complex mix of habit, body chemistry, social behaviour and psychology that’s notoriously difficult, but not impossible, to manage.

Here are some tricks to consider:

  1. Ask yourself, honestly, why you are putting food in your mouth. If bordedom or stress, not hunger, are the first reason, then stop.
  2. If much of what you eat is about boredom or stress, what can you do? Easy: take a walk. Put on music. Do a stretch routine. Go outside. Phone a friend. Whatever you find enjoyable and relaxing.
  3. Light a scented candle: studies suggest that certain aromas can take the edge off your appetite. The smells that work best include green apple, peppermint and banana.

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5. Make Small Lifestyle Adjustment

Lasting weight loss is more about small, sustainable adjustments to how you live and eat. Here are some more ideas that can give your weight-loss efforts the edge you need to succeed:

  1. Forget weight: Too many people focus on pounds when it comes to measuring weight loss. Instead, try to focus on better measures, like how your energy levels are doing, how your joints are feeling, how your attitude is faring, how your clothes are fitting, and how you look in the mirror.
  2. Drink water: You’ve heard about the health benefits of water. So finally do it: find a big, interesting bottle, fill it up, and take it everywhere. Aim to drink 2 litres of water each day.
  3. Shop the perimeter: Supermarkets are laid out in predictable ways. Usually, the healthiest, freshest foods are around the perimeter: fruit and vegetables, meats, seafood, dairy, bakery. The danger is in the aisles, with its biscuits, potato chips, canned foods, boxed foods, ice creams and confectionery.