To predict your ability to lose weight permanently, take this quiz.
Part 1 (this week) probes your eating and activity, and Part 2 will look at your behavioral readiness and other key factors. While the quiz is not scientific, it is based on key studies as well as experts’ advice.
Check your score to find out if you’re ready to shed those pounds for good.
1. When it comes to “sin food” such as cake, cookies or chips, you:
a) Keep eating until it’s gone. (-2)
b) Have no problem stopping after a bite or two. (+3)
c) Hunt it down like a heat-seeking missile even if it’s removed from sight. (-4)
d) Prefer fruits or vegetables instead. ( +4)
Tufts University researchers report that if you can’t be around sweet or fatty foods without overindulging or if you use food to reduce stress, you’re more likely to be overweight.
2. Which of the following best describes your home?
a) Chips or candy in bowls within sight. (-4)
b) Fridge packed with fruits and veggies. (+2)
c) Empty fridge. (-4)
d) Fridge stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, and no “junk food” in the pantry or out in bowls. (+4)
Cornell University research has shown that if a snack is within sight and easy to get to, you’ll eat it. And the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reports that most snacking is done at home. If you have a snack attack and there is only “good” stuff around, that’s what you’ll eat.
3. What’s your typical meal?
a) I pile it on. (-4)
b) I like to have smaller meals and eat more often. (+2)
c) I don’t keep track of what I eat, but my portions are probably fine. (-3)
d) I occasionally keep a food diary, and I know the portion sizes for the foods I eat. (+4)
Most of us have very little idea how much we are really eating. As a general rule, assume you’re eating 30 to 40 percent more than you think.
4. How would you describe your dieting history?
a) I feel like I’ve spent my entire life on a diet. (-3)
b) I only diet when I need to, like for bathing suit season or a big event. (-3)
c) I’m careful about what I eat, but I never diet. (+4)
d) I need to lose weight quickly or I’ll lose interest. (-5)
Losing weight for good involves coming up with permanent strategies. And according to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to regain it.
5. How often do you eat three or more servings of fruits and veggies (without butter or other fattening extras)?
a) Daily (+5)
b) At least three days a week (+3)
c) Rarely (-4)
d) Never (-6)
Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in water, so you get more food for fewer calories and feel full longer.
6. How often do you drink alcohol?
a) More than 10 drinks a week (-6)
b) Five to 10 drinks a week (-3)
c) One a week (+1)
d) Rarely (+2)
Alcohol works against you in two ways: It can be high in calories (e.g. 250 calories in a 4-ounce martini); plus it decreases your ability to avoid overindulging in high-calorie foods.
7. Do you plan your meals?
a) I just grab what I can when I can. (-5)
b) No, I just wing it. (-4)
c) I plan my dinners. (+2)
d) I know what I’m going to eat for lunch and dinner. (+4)
We tend to consume more calories when we don’t prepare, so think ahead!
8. How often do you eat out?
a) More than 10 times a week (-6)
b) Six to 10 times a week (-4)
c) Two to five times a week (-1)
d) Once a week (0)
e) Once a month or less (+4)
According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who eat in restaurants often are twice as likely to gain weight because restaurant foods are usually higher in calories and fat, have less fiber and the portions are larger.
9. How often do you eat at fast-food restaurants?
a) More than 10 times a week (-6)
b) Six to 10 times a week (-5)
c) Two to five times a week (-2)
d) Once a week (-1)
e) Once a month or less (+3)
Researchers reported in the British medical journal The Lancet that people who ate fast food twice a week gained 10 pounds more over 15 years than those who did so less than once a week.
10. Do you skip meals?
a) I never eat breakfast; I just don’t have the time. (-4)
b) Lunch is a waste; I eat at dinner. (-3)
c) I skip meals about three times a week. (-1)
d) I never skip. (+3)
Meal skipping causes you to overeat at your next meal, and you end up consuming more calories then if you ate regularly.
11. Do you combine dieting with an increase in physical activity?
a) Always (+8)
b) Sometimes (+2)’
c) Never (-10)
Research shows that permanent weight loss requires combining dieting with an increase in physical activity over current levels.
What your score means:
30 or more: Ph.D. in dieting
15 to 29: Nutritionist
0 to 14: Changes are necessary
-15 to -1: You need a game plan.
-25 to -16: An overhaul is required.
-26 or lower: Seek assistance from a professional.
Charles Platkin, Ph.D. is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com, and the Director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College.