Shape up!

We find one of the big things people are concerned about these days is their weight. Especially as we age keeping the unwanted stones off is a challenge. With our mechanized world, virtual entertainment and fast foods, many of our children are starting life with a weight problem as well. Not only is this something that impacts our self-esteem and looks, it is bad for our overall health; type 2 diabetes is becoming an epidemic in western countries. How can we keep fit and trim without starving ourselves in the process? Without going into a lot of detail, there are several things that have proven to be extremely effective in managing our weight:
  • Eat the largest meal of the day in the morning. This has to do with our natural circadian rhythms. What we eat early in the day goes primarily to energy, while what we eat in the later part of the day and evening will go mostly to fat.


  • Don’t eat between meals. Weight is a matter of arithmetic, and the stuff we eat between our meals is generally high in calories from fats and sugars and low in nutrition. Remember, fat has twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins. If you’re going to snack, use something like an apple, banana or some other kind of fruit. Remember, soft drinks are loaded with sugar. Coca-Cola has 13 teaspoons of sugar in an average container, Fanta has 15 teaspoons and Lucozade has 11 teaspoons. The values for this can be found on the side of the containers. Unsweetened fruit juice is much better, if it says fruit ‘drink’, you can bet it is full of added sugar. Drink water when you're thirsty.


  • Get regular exercise. This keeps the basic metabolic rate elevated, so we burn more calories per hour. Exercise also releases endorphins, natural ‘feel good’ chemicals our brain produces that help us to feel relaxed and happy, so we’re less likely to crave the comfort foods that many use as an addiction. Our BMR tends to decrease as we age, so it’s harder to burn up high caloric intake as we age without regular exercise.


  • Eat large amounts of unrefined foods. Whole grain breads, porridge and pastas, fruit and veg, nuts and seeds. The plant based foods the animals eat are better for us than eating the animals! These foods are full of important nutrients that we need to be healthy, and there is one huge added side effect of eating more of these foods: The phytochemicals in many plant based foods help prevent a blood supply being established to fat cells, thus making it harder for our body to put on the extra weight! This is also a property that helps our body fight the development of cancer. One big benefit of using more unrefined foods is the amount of fibre added to the diet. This has many important functions in nutrition, and it also helps us to feel full without getting so many calories. We can eat more, enjoy it more and gain less weight! This type of diet also helps prevent heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and a host of other nasty lifestyle related issues.

    Along with the types of food we eat, the way we cook them is also important. Throw away your cooker and bake, broil and steam foods instead of deep frying. A new phenomenon developing in western countries is non-alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver. This serious condition is being called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The progressive development of this condition is almost without symptoms and in its later stages the only treatment is liver transplant.


  • If you’re using food as an addiction to mask emotional issues, get help with the core issues. There are much healthier ways to reward oneself than to eat oneself into an early grave! Remember, it takes about a month to six weeks to develop a new habit, so start moving in the direction you want to go with your life, and before you know it you’ll be there!
For more information:

http://www.emeraldhef-ie.org/food_stuff.htm

See also:

 http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/healthpromotion/