The exercise habit finally seems to be catching on! A nine-year study conducted by the online journal Population Health Metrics reported that in more than two-thirds of the nation's counties, men and women became more physically active over the last decade. Yeah! However, these improvements have done little to reduce obesity. Today, more than one-third of the U.S. adults and about 17% of children are obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The obesity epidemic is a huge concern to our nation’s medical community, and it also needs to be a concern to you and me as well. Obesity does not just make us look bad, it can kill us. Today the five leading causes of death in the United States as outlined in the above study are all cardiovascular diseases, all cancers, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Health professionals feel that more than half of the deaths that occur in America could be prevented, or at least delayed, by practicing more positive lifestyle behaviors, which of course include what we do for our bodies and what we feed them.
Most health experts say exercise helps prevent disease, but the only way to lose weight is through dietary changes. Exercise alone is not enough.
SO - LET'S GO ON A DIET!
Do you fall into that category of obese - or maybe just a little overweight?
Even with consistent exercise, does your clothes size keep creeping up year after year? Are you carrying a little more around your waist than you used to?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, the obvious next step must be to go on a diet, right? And there’s no shortage to choose from:
• Low Fat
• High Protein
• Low Carb
• Prepackaged Meals – delivered right to your door
It should be pretty simple. We have become the kind of society that demands fast results, and it’s no different when we set our minds to weight loss. Even though it might have taken years to look the way you do today, you want results immediately, if not sooner. We tend to get discouraged if we don’t see drastic results in the mirror and on the scale in a month – or less. So, many of us turn to these “fad diets” which can produce quick weight loss by just following their plan.
While quick weight loss can have some advantages, especially for those people clinically classified as obese, every diet can have some drawbacks. So, before you choose any weight loss plan, ask yourself (and your doctor) these questions:
• Is it safe?
• Does it promote good nutrition and improve health?
• Is it enjoyable?
• Is it practical and sustainable – can you continue it for a long time to keep excess weight off?
If you can’t answer yes to all those questions, perhaps it’s not the smartest thing to do.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE?
If it's sustainable, it can be continued indefinitely - for the rest of your life.
Any diet that avoids major food groups, for example, is not safe and nutritious for extended periods.
YO - YO DIETING
Ever heard this term?
We all know people who have lost great amounts of weight – over and over. Why? They are not able to sustain the diet restrictions, and eventually return to their previously unhealthy way of eating. What did they learn? Not much! Is it healthy to be a Yo-Yo dieter? Definitely not!
IT NEEDS TO BE A LIFESTYLE - PERHAPS A MEDITERRANEAN LIFESTYLE!
Let's not even used the word DIET.
In most cases, it’s a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Instead, let’s think about how to choose the right foods in the right portions, not only to maintain health but to foster a new way to enjoy life. Let’s think like a Greek!
The Mediterranean way of eating characterizes the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Mayo Clinic has published research showing the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. An analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following the Mediterranean way of eating was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Key components include:
• Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
• Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
• Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
• Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
• Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
• Choosing low-fat dairy
• Drinking red wine in moderation – optional The typical Mediterranean’s not only adopt this way of eating, but also make dining and meal preparation an event to share with others, creating the sociability factor that is so important in longevity.
POSSIBLE PITFALLS... THE THREE P'S
Because becoming a "Mediterranean" means lifestyle changes, it's not without problems. Let's discuss the obvious:
This is not a step by step diet plan, so adopting it will take planning and education on your part. Learn the Pyramid and educate yourself on food selection.
This means cooking! The beauty of this way of eating is in the simplicity of meal preparation. Enjoying foods in their natural state is not only healthy but so delicious!
3. Portion Control
Learn what proper portions really are. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and be reasonable with high calorie offerings such as pasta. Whole grain pasta is allowed; just don’t eat the entire package!
Can you duplicate this style when you eat out?
Of course! Again, it comes down to education. Peruse the menu and look for choices that include fewer ingredients and less preparation. Don’t be afraid to ask for grilled instead of sautéed, and get your salad dressing on the side. Be smart, be assertive, and most of all – be healthy!
TO YOUR HEALTH