Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s such an alarming number. And it gets worse. If we continue on this path, by 2030 over 40% of us will be obese. We’ll have leap-frogged over the overweight category. And adults, it’s not just us, as our children are bulking up right along with us. And those of you living in other countries, don’t rest easy. The obesity epidemic is a world traveler.
So is the product of carrying too much weight on our frames simply a matter of too-tight clothes and a grimace as we pass by a mirror? Most of us know that this isn’t the case. Being overweight or obese opens us up to a variety of disease states and conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, certain cancers and more. And, unfortunately, this is not an adult-only risk. Children are susceptible as well. I see many young patients who are overweight or obese who are experiencing problems associated with their weight. A good example is diabetes. Who remembers that type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes? Guess what? Children now get it; thus the name change. A very alarming possibility is that if we continue on this weight gain trend, our children may be the first generation to have shorter live spans than their parents.
So what can we do to help keep unwanted weight off? Do fad diets work? Who of you have been on one? Many, I’m sure. And we then know what the answer is and it’s a resounding “no.” Many studies have shown that they don’t in the long run. The best bet is to learn to eat healthy for life. How do we do that? For the most part, it’s common sense.
First, monitor portion sizes. A helpful guide to do this is the healthy plate method. Half the plate should be non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate is starch and the other quarter is protein. Fruit and dairy are on the placemat. And don’t build mountains out of the food! When eating at home, I don’t recommend family-style dining in which the bowls of food are placed on the table allowing you to easily go back for seconds and thirds. Plating the food in the kitchen is a better idea. When dining out in sit-down restaurants, if your eyes pop out of your head in excitement at the amount of your food, there’s likely too much of it. Many sit-down restaurants serve us our food on platters! Eat an appropriate amount and take the rest home, or share it with someone else at the table. At fast food restaurants, it’s often simpler than at their sit-down counterparts. Avoiding the doubles, triples, quadruples and large and extra-larges on the menu is a good way to start.
Second, make sure your food is prepared in a healthy manner. Fried, sautéed, in gravy, with sauce, etc. are not good choices. Look for baked, grilled, broiled and steamed most of the time. Avoid high calorie dressings and condiments. We can accomplish this at home and all types of restaurants. Reading nutrition facts labels and the nutrition information on restaurant menu boards and menus will also help you determine if what you’re eating is the healthiest choice. And if you love to cook, use recipes that provide nutrition information and lighten them up as needed.
Finally, get moving. Exercise is very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. And if you need to lose weight, cutting 500 calories a day can result in a 1 pound a week weight loss. These 500 calories can be achieved by adding up the calories burned during exercise (for example in general walking a 20 minute mile burns about 100 calories) and cutting calories in the foods that we eat. Please note though that consuming less than 1200 calories per day is not recommended unless you are doing so under the supervision by a health care provider.
My book FAST FOOD VINDICATION discusses all of this and more in much greater detail. If you have any questions or comments, you can also contact me on my website or look me up on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Tillinger-Johansen/371723646229812
I look forward to hearing from you!