Inside secrets to keeping weight off

Q I’m tired of yo-yo dieting. How can I lose weight –and keep it off?

The trick is to choose foods you enjoy and eating strategies you can live with. That way, once you reach your goal, it won’t be a struggle to stick with your plan. Start with small changes, like including a vegetable at lunch. And reflect on your success. Feeling a sense of accomplishment will help you tackle the next challenge – reining in pasta portions, say — and the next.

Q I’d rather use a little butter instead of low-fat spread because of the chemicals. Is that OK?

I wouldn’t worry about the chemicals in spreads – no one has shown that these are harmful. As for butter, you have to decide who you want to spend your daily saturated fat and calorie allowance. A tablespoon of butter has 7 grams of sat fat – more than 2 third the amount you should consume each day – and 100 calories. If you use it sparingly, and don’t load up on other high-fat products, it’s probably all right.

Q What number is most important on a food label?

The calories. Most women need around 1,800 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight (fewer for dropping pounds), so when you need to make an “eat it or skip it” decision, knowing that just one tablespoon of chocolate chips has 70 calories, for example, can help you choose. That’s why you also have to check serving size – unless you know the amount of food those calories are tied to, you won’t know what you’re really getting. Other data to check out include saturated fat (below 2 grams is best) and fiber (anything with more than 3 grams is a good source)

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