In most areas of my life, I am an adult. I think like an adult and behave like an adult. But when it comes to food and diets, I’m a 14-year-old kid.

I don’t want to control portions. I don’t want to eat a single slice of pizza. And when I walk into the theater and smell the popcorn, I want it. Unfortunately, I am one of the 73.6% of American adults who are overweight or obese as defined by the CDC. We are numerous.

As we age, our nutritional needs do not change much from when we were young. The National Institute on Aging recommends a diet consisting of a wide variety of foods with significant sources of protein to maintain muscle mass. Fruits and vegetables are essential for vitamins and minerals, and we should avoid added sugars, saturated fats and sodium.

I think most of us know what we should be doing, but many of us have overindulged too often and need to lose weight. And being overweight puts us at a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer.

Let’s do a quick overview of a very complex subject: losing weight. There are as many types of diets as there are dieters. Finding the perfect fit isn’t easy. But I want to highlight some programs and strategies that are especially helpful for older Americans.

Regimes created for applications

Karen Troutman runs a Weight Watchers program in Tucker, GA (Photo: Shelly Howell)

There are popular diets that are impossible without a smartphone but are affordable and structure a weight loss program. You enter your stats, set goals, and track your eating plan throughout the day on your phone. They range from paid services, like Noom, to free apps with advertising, like MyFitnessPal.

If you like flexibility and are comfortable with a smartphone, these programs might just fit your life.

Proven published programs

There are many fad programs that drastically restrict carbohydrates, proteins, or fats. But most come with side effects and limitations that make them questionable.

Some of the most popular programs with safety records include the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the Mayo Clinic diet. They regularly rank at the top of long-term efficacy studies and help seniors struggling to control diabetes and high blood pressure.

Online guides are available as well as books that explain how to manage your diet and lose weight.

Diets with prepared meals

If cooking isn’t in your skill set, there are programs like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig that require you to purchase pre-packaged meals. Although these tend to be stricter with less flexibility, they can be convenient and effective programs for many people. And there is personal coaching included. They are much more expensive than some of the other options, so look carefully at the total cost.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has been around for over 60 years. I recently spoke with Karen Troutman, a leader at the Weight Watchers location in Tucker. She has been coaching at WW for 30 years.

“WW is for everyone, regardless of age groups and lifestyles,” she said. “We meet you where you are on your weight loss and wellness journey.”

Although the diet has evolved over time, based on the latest scientific findings, it claims to be the program most recommended by doctors. “Our members love having everything on the menu,” Troutman continued, “without restrictions or deprivations. WW also offers a diabetes-friendly program.

Although you can manage a WW program using the app, it has always included a weekly meeting where members have the support of a community. “You can easily find your tribes, such as other seniors who might share your similar interests, through the app or an in-person meeting,” Troutman added. “You get a sense of belonging and connection guided by coaches who inspire you on your journey.”

Whichever plan works best for you, take a look at what’s on offer in terms of maintenance after losing the extra pounds. It’s hard to lose weight – and often harder to keep it off.

Like many of you, I have tried many of the programs listed here. It is not easy. Maybe I should stop acting like a kid.