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Burning The Diet To Burn The Fat!

Mon, 12 Aug 2002

Burning The Diet To Burn The Fat!

An Auckland dietitian is heading up an international health and lifestyle programme that empowers participants to end a perpetual cycle of dieting.

Sarah Ley, who has had 30 years experience as a registered dietitian in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom and is a noted food writer, is the New Zealand licencee for HUGS, a programme that is making its mark around the country. She is also a facilitator of the programme in Auckland.

HUGS, a Canadian-based programme, addresses recent research undertaken by many weight management experts in the health industry which confirms that dieting is merely a short-term solution. Many experts believe that long-term dieting can actually lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.

Sarah says rather than focusing on dieting, HUGS encourages people to change their lifestyle and boost their self esteem. Often weight loss follows as a consequence, but she says the really good news for those who have been on various diets 'forever' is that there is no specific diet to follow.

Participants attend an eight week course where they learn to feel better about themselves and tune in to their body's natural hunger signals rather than simply responding to the host of other triggers that mostly have nothing to do with hunger.

Looking back on her own experiences as a dieter, Sarah says she realises now that she launched into diets whenever she was unhappy in her life and none of them worked long-term.

A major benefit of the HUGS programme is that people feel much happier about themselves and usually lose weight as a result. They are encouraged to stop thinking about diets, get rid of the scales and start thinking about themselves in positive terms instead of judging themselves by their weight.

"It's about a non-diet lifestyle and is aimed at freeing people from having every waking thought revolve around losing weight. It's a real pleasure to see people take control of their life and realise that when they are happy their eating patterns naturally change."

Often by about the fourth session people have let go of dieting but they feel nervous because they think that not obsessing about food will lead to weight gain. In fact, because the course encourages people to look at food and life in a new and more powerful way, weight loss is more likely to occur than weight gain.

Each participant is supported by the Sarah as the facilitator and by the others in the group making it easier to move through each step of the programme.

Among the range of topics covered during the eight HUGS sessions are the facts and myths of dieting, hidden fats, tuning into natural hunger signals, combating automatic eating, learning how to read food labels, physical versus psychological hunger, setting goals that count and the real benefits of physical activity.

Participants are encouraged to make their own decisions about what and how much they eat and the course provides the tools to ensure their ongoing relationship with eating is healthy and relaxed.

People who do the HUGS course are generally aged from 30 to 60 years and have a wide range of weight variations.

HUGS was established by Canadian Linda Ominchinski, a registered dietitian and the author of the international best-seller "You Count, Calories Don't". Her book is now used as the text for the HUGS course. The programme is run in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Sarah Ley has a Masters in Nutritional Science.

There are ten HUGS facilitators throughout the country.

For more information call Sarah Ley on 09 446 6262 or visit HUGS at

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