Once upon a time it was considered a treat to eat out. A burger and fries was something that was offered to kids as a reward for doing well at school or for good behaviour.
Unfortunately, those same kids grew up and started earning money, so they could treat themselves rather than having their parents treat them, and so they treated themselves more and more often until…
Until we faced an epidemic of obesity, and crisis levels of type 2 diabetes. Until we had a population of people who look destined to struggle with their weight throughout their lives.
All sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it?
But surely – I can hear some of you say – there are so many diet products and so many low fat alternatives available…
And you’d be right. There are endless products out there with less sugar, less fat, less carbohydrate and so on, but are these products really the way to healthy weight loss?
Are you truly going to manage your diet more healthily by using manufactured products that replace natural ingredients with artificial ones? Factory-made foods rather than free range, farm produced ones?
Our forebears didn’t have the same tendency to obesity as the current generation, and that certainly wasn’t because they were eating fat-free yoghurt and calorie-counted pasta meals in handy microwaveable packaging!
The whole topic of diet, weight-loss, nutrition and exercise is so huge that I can only offer some thoughts about what might be your best course of action if you truly want to lose some weight in a healthy, controlled and sustainable way.
First things first: Calories out (exercise) should exceed calories in (food and beverages) if you want to lose weight. Don’t get too hung up on what constitutes exercise; I’m not saying you have to go to a gym or sign up to run a marathon; I’m just suggesting that walking up a flight or two of stairs rather taking the lift or escalator; walking for 20 minutes day; maybe going swimming once in a while might be a good place to start.
Second hint: What are you having for breakfast? The first food that hits your system in the morning programmes your body for the whole of the day, so if you have a slice of dry toast you’re telling your body that you’re going to starve it of fats and sugars, so it will hang on to what it’s got.
On the other hand, if you pile your plate high with bacon, sausage, eggs, buttered toast, maybe some fried mushrooms…then you’re going to tell your body to burn fuel, but as you’ve probably consumed 1,500 calories you’re going to need to do some serious exercise to benefit from that message.
The answer – well, one answer anyway – is to eat something that sends the right message, but doesn’t overload your system: a bowl of full-fat yoghurt, with some fresh fruit for example will let your body know that it needs to deal with fat, so any further fat in your diet that day will be used rather than stored, while the fruit gives you some sugars, some vitamins and maybe some antioxidants too.
And point three: You probably don’t have exactly the same meal every day for lunch or dinner, so why do we seem to think it’s OK to have the same food every day for breakfast? Ring the changes! Have a bit of variety in your breakfast menu.
So, to summarise: If you want some healthy, sustainable weight loss, start your day with some forethought and some variety; avoid artificial ‘diet’ products in favour of fresh food; eat less; exercise more and keep yourself in a positive frame of mind: Have a mental picture of yourself at the weight and size you WANT to be, and revisit that picture in your mind throughout the day.