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Simple Steps to a Successful Diet

As a Physical Therapist, I often have patient’s pose questions related to improving their eating habits for weight loss or for overall improved health.  Drastic dieting plans are often aggressive and difficult to adhere to, causing frustration and a sense of discouragement.  Implementing the following easy nutritional changes can allow you the best possible chance of success in approaching a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Utilize complex carbohydrates:  Complex carbohydrates provide a more efficient and higher quality energy source.  This includes eating more whole wheat/grain breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, and granola instead of white breads, pastas and rice.  Many complex carbs are high fiber foods which will also help to promote digestive health.
  2. Choose leaner foods:  Promote a healthier diet by reducing fatty intake.  Eat leaner proteins including pork, chicken, turkey and fish.  Reduce fat intake by choosing 1% or skim milk instead of whole or 2%.
  3. Portion control:  Maintain reasonable portion sizes to avoid overeating.  Eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day will help to reduce hunger cravings, maintain constant energy levels, and keep calorie intakes lower.  All meals should be ‘complete’ with a protein and carbohydrate.  Don’t forget to include vitamin rich fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid skipping meals:  Consistency in proper eating habits will provide the most favorable results.   Never feel as though skipping meals to reduce caloric intake will be helpful for weight loss.  The body is accustomed to receiving a fuel source regularly.  Increased storage of calories occurs if the body is deprived of necessary fuels (if you skip meals), not to mention slowing of the metabolism.  Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!
  5. Maintain proper hydration:  Drink more water while reducing high calorie drinks such as soda and caffeinated beverages.

A proper diet should include approximately 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 15% fats and should total approximately 2000-2200 calories per day depending on the build and activity level of the individual.

It is important to note that the changes stated above have not asked you to limit or eliminate the foods that you enjoy, but only to make smarter/healthier choices.  Never forget to implement an exercise program daily to maintain muscular and cardiovascular health in addition to healthy eating habits.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in the US is heart disease.  YOU have the ability to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by modifying your diet and implementing an exercise program.  Remember, subtle lifestyle changes will prove to be easier to maintain and provide a greater chance of success.

There is no substitute for consistency of diet and exercise.

For a more detailed and individualized program, or you just need help getting started, please consult a medical professional or dietitian.

Stephen DiGiambattista PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at ProCare Physical Therapy of North Pocono.  Email questions, concerns or interests for future columns to  

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles, Diet and Exercise, General Health, Cardiac Direction


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