Obesity is becoming epidemic in much of today’s society. But being fat isn’t healthful. I want to talk about how to use ten practical steps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Excess weight impairs health and shortens life. As little as 10 to 15 pounds, 5-7 kg of extra weight can lay the foundation for many of today’s degenerative diseases… And for every extra 10 pounds 5 kg of weight, one’s lifespan may be shortened by as much as a year.
Why are we getting so big?
According to the World Health Organization, “The key to the problem lies in the evermore widespread sedentary lifestyle and a diet over-rich in calories and fats.” Degenerative diseases are often related to ones’ lifestyle. Obesity greatly increases the risk of many diseases such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (and)
- Back pain
But diseases are only one side of the story. Overweight people often suffer major social and psychological problems such as depression, low self-esteem, and social isolation. The rapid increase of eating disorders especially among young people is frightening. Today we are inundated with all kinds of advice about “How to Lose Weight.” What can you believe? The struggling, discouraged and overweight person will grasp at almost any straw.
Almost any new diet will work for a while, but the sad truth is that 90% of dieters will regain their lost weight within a year. But there are saner voices reminding people that there are no shortcuts, no magic pills. We need to adopt healthier ways to lose weight, ways that will last.
Here are ten safe, proven principles that not only will bring down the pounds, but will reward you with a healthier, happier life as well.
- Don’t go on “a diet”: Change your eating habits—permanently!Dieting is merely a temporary interruption to your normal eating habits—the very ones that may have caused a weight problem in the first place. You don’t need a “new diet,” you need a new dietary lifestyle.
- Eat a good breakfast: A good breakfast boosts your energy, increases your attention span, and heightens your sense of well-being. Studies have now linked eating a healthy breakfast to less chronic disease, longer life, and better health. Children who eat a good breakfast often do better in school. Jump-start your day with a whole grain cereal, whole grain toast, and a couple servings of fresh fruits. Your energy level will be high all morning.
- Break the snack habit: The calories you get from snacking can add up to an extra meal—a big one at that. One study showed Western women tended to snack 400-500 calories per day. At the rate of 500 calories per day, seven days a week, totaling 3500 calories, that means it’s possible to gain an extra pound a week on snacks alone. Many people are able to control their weight just by kicking the snack habit. Eating adequate meals high in complex carbohydrates and fiber will provide you with the steady energy you need to make it from one meal to the next.
- Eat mainly unrefined and unprocessed whole plant foods: Build your diet around fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and other natural foods. They are high in fiber, low in dangerous types of fat and will fill you up with fewer calories. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day. One of the fruits should be high in Vitamin C and one of the vegetables high in Vitamin. They also recommend eating six servings of beans and grains every day. A serving is one piece of fruit or slice of bread or a half-cup of a food. This will reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
Unrefined foods such as olives, corn and sesame seeds, do provide fat without getting it in excess amounts as is so easily done when using oil. Sugar as found in fruits is not nearly as concentrated as refined sugars which is used in cooking or the making of candy, cookies, etc. Whole-wheat bread as contrasted with white flour bread, brown rice rather than white rice, are other examples of unrefined foods. Refining of foods concentrates calories. You would have to eat a lot of ears of corn to get as many calories as is in one tablespoonful of oil.
One peach provides 30-40 calories but when consumed in the form of canned peaches in sugar water, two peach halves will provide 90 calories.
- Reduce oils, butters, dressings and other fats: Avoid meats high in fat, cholesterol, cooking and salad oils, sauces, dressings, and shortening—all high in calories and have no fiber at all. Use spreads and nuts sparingly. Avoid frying; saute instead with a little water in a nonstick pan. Try new low-fat, easy-to-prepare recipes.
- Drink water: Our bodies consist of about 60% water. Water is necessary for almost every function of the body. We need to be aware of our body’s needs and provide for those needs. Often feelings of tiredness and hunger are in reality thirst-messages.
Drink eight or more glasses of water per day. Most people don’t drink enough water. They drink more soft drinks, beer, coffee, tea and other beverages than they do water. That means they are getting a lot of calories but not much nutrition. Drinking calorie-loaded beverages is one sure recipe for gaining weight. Switch to water—it’s the slender person’s drink of choice. When you have the urge to eat between meals, drink water. Often we think we are hungry, and eat–when in reality, though we may not have a thirsty feeling, the body is in need of water.
- Exercise daily: A regular exercise program helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism and strengthening your muscles. It also increases your energy and endurance and lifts your spirits. Walk after meals (It’s best not to linger around the kitchen). Short walks after meals aids digestion and help us keep a positive attitude. For general fitness, 30 minutes a day is a good goal. But people who need to lose weight must aim higher. Do an hour a day. This could be brisk walking or gardening.
- No harmful substances: Allow no harmful substances into your body, such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and unnecessary drugs. These are addictive, expensive substances that either add calories to an overburdened body or increase our risk of illness.
- Eat three regular meals daily: Eat three regular meals a day about 5-6 hours apart, with no snacks between. A bigger breakfast and noon meal, with a smaller meal at night, will promote better sleep and give the stomach a good rest. Studies show that calories eaten in late afternoon or evening stay with us more than calories eaten earlier in the day. In the evening we are generally less active and don’t need more food and calories. Some people find that fasting from food for a day every week or so may also be beneficial.
- Trust in God for help: Courage and faith in the healing power of God is of great importance. Most of us lack what it takes to always choose the best foods or eat them in the right quantity. Our loving Lord is yearning to assist us in gaining the victory over self. Claim the mighty promises in the Bible, and mighty things can be accomplished!
Remember, that sedentary work, television, computers, the Internet, and the easy availability of high-calorie foods are creating not only obese adults, but also super-fat children. These children are pre-exposed to a host of related illnesses as well as serious psychological problems. Set a good example. Good health is a family affair.
1 WHO Meeting June 1997, reported by Inter Press Service, June 14, 1997
2 Solomon et al. Obesity & Mortality: A Review of Epidemiological Data. Am J Clin Nutr 1997 Oct66:4 1044