OBESITY IS AN EPIDEMIC IN OUR COUNTRY and is a primary cause of many preventable diseases. Obesity mechanically increases blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and compresses organs. Fat cells try to take over our bodies. They secrete chemicals that promote heart attacks and diabetes, make us hungry, and attack blood vessels. Extra weight depresses us emotionally, and makes it harder to exercise. Most adults gain 4 pounds a year, then use short diets to lose weight only to gain back even more weight. This harmful to organs, ligaments and muscles. Obesity deserves the same respect as other diseases that require lifetime changes.
Reducing calories for the long term is the best solution, not crash dieting.
SHORT DIETS GIVE TEMPORARY BENEFITS and LONG TERM BAD RESULTS
After a diet, we eat the way we did before, so it’s not surprising that we gain all the weight back. We did not change our eating habits, so we gain even more. But we lose muscle during diets and when we gain weight it is mostly fat, so the ratio of fat to muscle increases. We get bigger and weaker over time.
KNOWING THE WAY OUR BODIES WORK HELPS US UNDERSTAND
The first food we eat powers our bodies, but extra food is stored as muscles or tissues if it is balanced. Unbalanced food is stored as fat. When we diet, our bodies break down one pound of muscle for every pound of fat we lose. Crash diets weaken muscles and ligaments all over our bodies. This loss can cause muscle weakness, incontinence and joint instability – SO we become weaker. Weight Control needs to be done for the long haul.
BARRIERS TO WEIGHT LOSS The biggest barrier is our habits. Women also have progesterone (a hormone that promotes weight gain) and a metabolism that burns calories slowly. Fat cells secrete chemicals that make us hungrier. Fat makes it difficult to exercise. Emotions also make weight control difficult, but you need to control your weight anyway. Attitude is extremely important. Once you identify your problem food (or soda) tell yourself “I DON’T NEED THIS” food. Don’t tell yourself “I can’t have this”, since that will make you feel deprived. If you feel deprived your willpower is likely to break. Binge eating deposits fat more quickly, since extra calories become fat. It is best to eat only what we need.
WAYS TO EAT LESS If your weight gain is not due to a disease (like fluid retention or hypothyroidism), you eat more than you need – even if you “only eat a little”. Never eat until you feel full. The sensation of “being full” reaches your brain 10 minutes after the stomach is tight. (The slow fullness after Thanksgiving is due to this.) Eating too much not only gives you too many calories, it also promotes acid reflux and causes the discomfort of a stretched stomach. Extra calories are stored as fat so
Reduce THE CALORIES You eat. We need significantly fewer calories than we needed when we were young or pregnant. Make a conscious effort to adjust the quantity of food to meet our present needs. Often there is a problem food (such as pop) that we need to cut back. Useful tricks are to: eat on smaller plates, drinking a glass of water before eating, and eat more slowly. Limit high calorie foods with sugar or fats (like ice cream, pop, gravy, etc.). Identify and reduce or eliminate problem foods. Even diet pop causes weight gain. (1)
EAT REGULARLY SPACED MEALS. If you eat one meal a day, your body hangs onto every calorie. Avoiding large meals reduces fat storage. If your stomach hurts or you are sad or nervous, have your doctor treat the underlying problem. If you eat because you are lonely, socialize more often. If you eat because you are bored, try other entertainment. If you eat for oral pleasure, try biting small flavored things, like anise seed (licorice flavor), cumin seed, mustard seed, dried lemon peels, or drinking unsweetened drinks or flavored water.
WAYS TO EAT BETTER Don’t overindulge in any one food. Reduce the amount of high calorie foods that you eat, especially sugars and fats. (Chicken skin, cream, butter, margarine, cheese, regular hamburger and many salad dressings are high in fats.) Eat more low-calorie foods, such as green vegetables, celery, low fat meats. Fatty foods also increase the plaque buildup inside blood vessels. It is usually better to control the diet by concept, rather than counting every calorie, since calorie counting makes most people hungry.
EXERCISE improves overall health, reduces stress and burns calories. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of exercise (like running 10 miles) to burn even the calories in a soft drink or a banana. Exercise does make the cholesterol that protects your heart, but exercise is far less effective for weight control than controlling what you eat.
FOCUS on CONTROLLING WHAT YOU EAT, and not LOSING WEIGHT
the main focus in weight control is reducING what you eat for the rest of your life - WITHOUT FEELING DEPRIVED. If you use weight loss as the goal, you will stop the control when you hit your goal. Adjust your attitude so that you eat less. If you can identify unhealthy foods that can you live without for the rest of your life, you already know the best solution. A dietician can help you identify dietary problems. Weight Watchers or other groups using the same principles are effective in giving guidance and emotional support, but it works only when you actively follow the plan. Obsessing and daily weighing do not help – that makes you worry about your weight and worry makes you hungry. Attitude is ¾ of the battle.
(1) “Soda Consumption Tied to Metabolic Syndrome” Family Pract. News, Aug 2007, pg 17 Revised 04/20/12