Update on integrating activity, weight loss and mental health services

Many people seeing mental health professionals would benefit from increasing their activity and losing weight as part of their treatment to help them feel and do better.  The New York Times, a reliable source for health, science and technology information, recently published three articles that may be of interest to mental health professionals:

  • Could Your Healthy Diet Make Me Fat? Discussed recently released research finding in support of “personalized nutrition.”  You may have seen articles this research, which has generated a lot of discussion in the popular press, and this New York Times article steps back a big and takes a look at the potential benefits, but also the potential limitations, of these research findings. On the one hand, this research helps explain why a diet he worked very well for some people, but be absolutely no help to others, even though both groups it here to the plan about equally. The other hand, the author also discusses the current limitations to this approach, and emphasizes that, “despite the hype, personalized nutrition is not ready for practical application of the clinic.” He advocates that dietary guidelines should rely on the best available science, and this should result in eliminating the emphasis on low-fat diets and more of a focus on the quality of carbohydrates in a well-balanced diet. He notes that, in particular, the site supports the benefits of eating fewer processed carbohydrates.
  • Counting Your Bites for Weight Loss reviews recent research that found that a program that had people count their bites actually resulted in a moderate amount of weight loss. This research found that the participants were generally more receptive to buy counting then calorie counting, but also there is a significant number that dropped out of the study, apparently because the bike counting was found to be a nuisance. This type of weight loss program obviously is not for everyone, but may be applicable to people with perhaps a bit of an OCD tendency.
  • Finally, “How Many Weekly Miles Should I Run to Improve My Health?” provides some potentially heartening info for people seeking to improve their health by increasing her activity level. The article reviews research about running, and finds that “122 runs per week, or 3 to 6 miles per week, and well less than an hour per week” can provide significant health benefits. The article quotes one of the authors of the research cited to recommend that, for most of us, “running for 20 to 30 minutes, or about a mile and a half to 3 miles, twice per week, would appear to be perfect.” Good news for those of us, and the people who consult us, who are not willing or able to train for a marathon!

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