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Ask someone about his or her goals for the New Year and inevitably there will be a discussion about a desire to lose weight. But meeting this goal is often difficult for many.

To help shed those extra pounds and improve your overall health, doctors recommend establishing a plan that includes choosing the right foods. Catholic Health Physician Partners primary care physician Bianca Garcia, MD, suggests a visit with your doctor to discuss goals and develop a plan that will have a positive impact on your life for years to come.

Q: What is the best way to start a weight-loss/healthy eating regimen?

A: When looking to lose weight, many want to see a significant change quickly. But it’s important to go slowly and be patient. This is a journey that will take time but will ultimately lead to overall improved health and feeling better about yourself.

Q: What types of food should people add more to their diet?

A: Consuming vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains in greater quantities will help with weight loss while also improving overall health. Many grocery stores sell pre-cut fruits and vegetables. This allows you to grab a quick snack when you have the munchies. It’s also a good idea to bring to work healthy snacks such as pretzels, fruit and yogurt. This will eliminate those trips to the vending machine, which is full of sweets, and allow you to eat well throughout the day.

Q: What types of food should people reduce or avoid consuming?

A: Avoid sugary drinks and fast food. These are both high in calories and can lead to an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other significant health problems.

Q: What role can a primary care doctor have in one’s weight-loss efforts?

A: Losing weight and making changes to your diet are not easy. To overcome these challenges and live a healthier life, your primary care doctor can help in many ways. This includes discussing recommended healthy food choices, outlining an exercise regimen and monitoring your weight. Additionally, your doctor can identify any specific medical issue and work to develop a special diet that addresses the problem.

Q: Beyond changes to diet and developing an exercise program, what other tip would you share to help people lose weight?

A: I always tell my patients that when they go grocery shopping, never go when you’re hungry or feeling stressed. Often, this is when people are most likely to buy sweets and other unhealthy food.

Q: Is working with a dietician a good idea to develop a diet that would help with weight loss?

A: It can be beneficial to have a support team on your weight-loss journey, especially when dealing with a health issue such as diabetes. Catholic Health has Diabetes Education Centers at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®, Mercy Hospital, St. Charles Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital. At each of our centers, educators and experts give you the knowledge and support to manage your diabetes, which includes making proper food choices.

To make an appointment with a Catholic Health primary care physician, please visit our Find a Doctor page or call (866) MY-LI-DOC.

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