Friday, January 21, 2011

Why We Get Fat

by Bonnie Minsky

Fifty years ago, one of nine Americans would be considered obese; as of 2010, it was one of three with two of three considered overweight. Children are fatter, teens are fatter, and even babies are born fatter. Who or what do we hold accountable for this?

1. The USDA Food Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines are based on politics and food surpluses instead of hard science. Following a heavy dairy based diet (especially since dairy cows have been fed corn, antibiotics, and estrogenic hormones) and grain based diet (cornmeal and whole wheat are the biggest culprits), Americans have become the sickest and fattest than at any time in recorded history. Is it any wonder that Type II Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions?

2. During the last 30 years, health officials still promote the calories in/calories out theory. They tell us to exercise more and eat less. When it doesn't work, they assume we're lying. I disbanded this theory 30 years ago when I was called into do a program for poverty-stricken women who relied solely on food stamps. They were absolutely not getting enough calories, but with two exceptions, were obese. In my 25 years of nutrition counseling, I have found that 90% of my obese clients do not take in more calories than they try to expend.

3. Obese individuals are desperate to find a magic bullet. Drugs, weight-loss supplements, elixirs, dangerous detoxification programs, and surgeries have been hawked to the public from all angles. The money spent on these treatments have created so much frustration that many yo-yo dieters give up in frustration.

4. Thousands of books have been written regarding the secrets to weight loss. The weight loss diets fall into opposite ends of the spectrum from the the very low the very low the very high protein...and to the very high fat. Because most of these plans can work short-term due to reduction of calories and loss of water weight, pseudo-successful dieters spread the word like wildfire. When they stop working, the dieter jumps on the next dieting bandwagon...only to throw the body out of homeostasis once again.

How can we prevent obesity or lose weight and keep it off forever?

Eat Real Food.
Isn't it interesting that after 48 years of being in the weight loss business, that even Weight Watcher's is finally steering dieters into eating more natural, less processed foods. They admit that "calorie counting has become unhelpful". For instance, a 100 calorie apple is not handled by the body the same way as 100 calorie cookie is handled. So get rid of the artificial flavors/colors, MSG, hormones, antibiotic residues, trans fats, and fake preservatives. Eat less out of a box, jar, or can. Eat more from fresh fruits, fresh/frozen vegetables, lean unprocessed meats/poultry/fish, healthy oils, and raw/dry roasted nuts/seeds. Your body will feel satisfied and will be able to stop foraging for missing nutrients.

Balance Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.
The International Obesity Conference (which our Circle of Health had already endorsed) wasn't wrong when they said about 50% carbs ( mostly from fruits and vegetables), about 30% protein, and about 20% healthy added fats would keep excess weight off, satisfy, and prevent future disease. This is the basic description of one of eight Mediterranean Diets that relies heavily on beans instead of bread and fish/poultry instead of fatty meats. This also describes the Japanese (especially the Okinawan) Diet that avoids most cow's milk products and grains, except rice. Organic fermented soy, healthy fat, loads of fruits/vegetables, and fish make this the healthiest diet in the world. I've never seen an individual combining the best of the Mediterranean and Okinawan diets all the time ever have a major weight or health problem!

Look at Your Individual Needs.
Good results on routine blood tests, having enough energy, feeling calm, sleeping well, feeling free of pain unless you've overexerted yourself, and having the ability to concentrate are good indicators of a body in homeostasis. If this is not your M.O., then work with a licensed health professional to determine if nutrient deficiencies, excess stress, overexertion, food allergy, and/or food intolerances could be culprits.

Eat to Live...Instead of Living to Eat.
Eat slowly, savor every delicious bite of your food, and thank nature and industry for providing you with easy access to a wide variety of foods from which to choose. But just like a child who can't buy everything he wants at the toy store, you shouldn't buy everything you want at the grocery store.

Take Baby Steps.
Losing weight and keeping it off is the surest way to building optimum health. If you even make one positive "forever" change each month, within a maximum of two years you will have changed the course of your life in a positive way. And once you feel how wonderful it is to be able to focus on the truly important things in your life, instead of on feeling lousy and constantly thinking about your weight, you will have achieved.

We have dedicated the entire month of January emphasizing sound, smart, safe tips for reducing or balancing weight in our subscription-based NCI Well Connect eNewsletter. Email for more information.

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