How to maintain a healthy weight
by Becky Coffield —
Now more than ever, attention is being focused on our increasing girth. Despite the best intentions of many people, the upsurge in gym memberships and the popularity of TV’s “The Biggest Loser,” a growing number of Americans are fighting the battle of the bulge.
Food additives and weight gain
There is no mystery to it: excess calories cause weight gain. Popular opinion dictates that weight gain specifically comes from consuming too many calories or being too sedentary, and for most Americans this is probably true.
There are many theories as to why people continue to consume too many calories when, at the same time, they are so weight-conscious. An increasingly popular theory is that the presence of high-fructose corn syrup in almost every prepared food is the culprit. The addition of sugar (high-fructose corn syrup) is insidious and the cause for dietary disaster, as most people are unaware that this ingredient is high calorie and quite unnecessary.
Another often-blamed culprit for weight gain is low-fat or no-fat items which may indeed be low in fat calories, but as nutritionists are quick to point out, they are often very high in carbohydrates (sugar), which translates to high calories. Carbohydrates are stored as fat when consumed in too large a quantity.
Reasons for weight gain
A quickly growing reason now emerging to explain excess weight gain is the malfunction of the thyroid. It is a well-established fact that the thyroid gland tends to falter as one ages. Some doctors, however, believe that thyroid disorder has become endemic. Environmental factors are most often cited as the cause.
Menopause (and andropause) also are often offered as reasons why people gain weight. There is plenty of evidence that suggests some weight gain is normal (undesirable perhaps, but normal) for both men and women during and after this life change. The key is that weight gain should be held at a maximum of 10 pounds.
Increasingly, prescription medications can be faulted for weight gain, as can yo-yo dieting and some eating disorders.
There are even those who blame weight gain on the introduction of TV dinners into the American diet. The theory here is that initially the dinners were oversized, having too many fat calories, too much salt and too many food additives and preservatives. Then, when cooked in microwave ovens, even the chemical composition of the food was altered and not for the good.
Regardless of the reasons, the weight is gained, and excess weight can trigger a number of debilitating diseases, from diabetes to high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and depression.
Ideas for losing weight
Careful attention to one’s diet and an increase in physical activity will, over time, take care of most people’s weight problems. Truly there is no quick fix. Try these ideas instead:
- Shop only on the fringes of the grocery store. This is where the fresh foods are kept. Avoid the aisle sections that offer pre-packaged and boxed foods that are filled with high-fructose corn syrup and other chemicals and additives.
- Eat desserts if you must, but sparingly.
- Do not overly fret about fats; eat balanced, healthful meals that fill you up. Depriving yourself of food only makes matters worse and causes bingeing later.
- Avoid soft drinks, cookies and crackers.
- Limit alcohol, bread, pastas and sugared cereals.
- Stop using artificial sweeteners.
- Do not feel deprived. Eat well and healthfully.
- Aim for one hour of exercise a day. Walking is cheap and easy, and it doesn’t all have to be done at the same time. As you improve, add other activities.
Becky Coffield is a freelance writer and the author of several award-winning books, including One Pot Galley Gourmet, a cookbook of nutritious, delicious, easy-to-prepare, mostly one-pot meals. www.moonlightmesaassociates.com and www.rlcoffield.com.
From the Archives of AzNetNews.