Statistics are clear. There is an increase in hospital admissions year on year due to obesity-related factors. According to the NHS, the figures are staggering!
Obesity is costing the economy too much money! So we must do something about it. The government has set out new guidelines to help with the problem and I suppose we should all do our part because in the end, it will affect us all. That being said, from personal experience, I can say that it is difficult.
I do agree, however, that we must try.
Why? Because as I have said before, doing our part will help us all out. The money that is used to cater to the health problems brought about by the effects of obesity could easily be used for other things that could benefit all of us.
We agree that it is difficult to lose weight, and we have years of experience to verify this. And we should know better too. After all, we have training in nutrition, and we know what’s good for us and what’s not good for us. But talking the talk is way different from walking the walk. The taste of food, the memories brought on by eating delicious food, the emotions associated with eating and overeating, and trying, again and again, to do better next time, are all parts of a vicious cycle. Some of us deny it because denial is better. But as always, we are willing to keep trying.
So let’s think of practical things that we all can do to avoid the pitfalls. These tips will also help if, like us, you are already battling with weight issues. We hope that by sharing some of our knowledge, we can offer some sort of support. Of course, we are not dieticians and strongly recommend that you see your doctor before embarking on any significant weight-loss efforts.
Education is key if we are to tackle obesity.
Dealing with Fat
- Cut off visible fat from meat before cooking.
- Choose cooking methods like grilling and roasting rather than frying
- If you must fry, do shallow fat or low cal oil spray (we sometimes do a flash fry then put the items in the oven to finish off)
- Use skimmed or semi-skimmed milk (these have less fat)
- Some cuts of meat (for example mince) needs no extra fat added to the pan.
- Do purchase mince with lower fat content.
- Use an air fryer (we don’t have one yet but plan to get one to try it out)
Dealing with Carbs
Carbohydrate foods are of three main types: Sugar, starch, and cellulose, or fibre. Sugary foods are sweet and usually very tasty and we tend to consume too much because they are rich in taste and our palates naturally gravitate towards having more and more. Foods of this type include buns, biscuits, cakes, and cookies. They are highly processed and also have a lot of additives.
A lot of us consume a lot of starchy carbs. These are the ones we eat as part of our main meal along with meat or other protein source and salads or vegetables (hopefully). Foods in this category include bread, potatoes, yams, rice, and pasta. I love starchy carbs and I especially love eating it hot, which is, according to some research, not advisable. The problem is that you eat more and more instead of waiting for it to get cooler and eating and savouring each mouthful.
Fibre, which is a type of carbohydrate is said to be good for us and we need to eat a good amount of these to maintain a good healthy balance. We get these from fruits and vegetables and from whole wheat products. Even here there is a fine balance to be had because although fruits contain a lot of fibre, many of them also contain a lot of sugar. So moderation is the key here.
Dealing with Sugary foods and Drinks
I heard of someone who claimed to be on a weight loss diet. She would order whatever she wanted to eat and then a diet drink thinking that would help. How funny is that?
These should be limited. It takes practice to form healthy habits such as drinking water instead of reaching for sugary drinks. Many of us don’t have enough water. Perhaps this is a place to start by increasing our water intake. Water has no calories at all and I find that it is very refreshing. I understand though that some think water tastes ‘bad’ which is why I think we need to take steps to make drinking water a habit rather than a chore.
As mentioned before, sugary foods are quite addictive and they are quite calorific. We all do need to consume less and also encourage younger ones to do the same. I’m a believer in the view of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ so I really would advocate for only purchasing sugary foods as a one-off treat and not as a part of our regular grocery shopping. That way, we keep temptation at bay. Try it. It might just work for you.
Why are we in this predicament?
I suggest that a lot of it boils down to how we are socialised as children and also the social norms found in our society. Banning ads of certain food products at certain times of the day or night is a start. A part of me says that banning food advertisements totally would be even better. But then there will be those that say that food producers and advertisers need to make a living. Oh, the cycle!
The government’s Better Health scheme
Today I heard so much about Boris Johnson’s proposal. It was on every news channel here in the UK and he even admitted that he himself had to face up to the fact that he was overweight when he was struck down with the Coronavirus.
Honestly, I applaud him for publicly saying that he knew he was overweight and was doing something about it. It takes a lot of courage to do that. Afterall, a lot of us are embarrassed about being overweight. And so coming out and saying it to the nation gives some of us some motivation to do something about our own situation.
His plan includes the Exercise Referral Scheme, banning junk food ads at certain times of the day, removing buy one get one free offer on junk foods, removing junk foods from near check out tills, etc.
Honestly, are these enough? Some persons on the heavier side are already too self-conscious to go to the gym anyway. My former student turned lecturer Nikita Rowley, suggests that the exercise referral scheme might need to take on a new look. I agree. There is no one fit for all here.
Just before the lockdown, we were referred to our local gym for sessions in order to get fitter, lose weight, control our diabetes. Our local gym is rather small and, although we did enjoy going, we felt that the program could include a variety of activities so that it wasn’t monotonous.
As we say, one size doesn’t fit all so activities like yoga, treadmill workout, tennis, badminton, boxing, skipping, etc could make the program something to look forward to. Just my suggestion.
What Else Can We Do?
- Personal exercise can help with weight loss. So do take part in some. Always seek medical advice and make use of the referral program from your doctor to get some free gym time in. Make it count. In my opinion, the biggest thing here is to keep it consistent. Even when you’re not on the referral scheme, it will take consistent exercise to maintain weight loss.
- Walk more. Keep busy physically
- Avoid sitting down for extended periods of time. Not many calories are burned while sitting down.
- Have low sugar fruits (small portions) and vegetables whenever you feel like having a snack. Have them ready to hand so that there is no delay in having to get them ready.
- Ensure that you don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.
- Get accustomed to weighing yourself daily and recording your weight and celebrating little wins, but not with food, perhaps a pretty dress or shoe?
- Encourage family members or friends to join you on a new, healthy lifestyle program.
- Be honest with yourself and your loved ones.
- Get all the help you can
- accept that weight loss and maintaining it will be hard.
- Avoid situations that trigger overeating (you know exactly which ones)
- Tell yourself that even when you have bad days and ‘fall off the cart’, you’ll get back on again. And do it.
With a concerted effort from all of us, we can get this situation under control and hopefully divert much-needed funds to other important areas, and more than anything else, save lives that are being needlessly lost.
I’m sure this topic of how to tackle obesity can be explored so much more and we could share tons of useful information and personal stories. We would love to hear your views so tell us what you think in the comment box below.