I am really sensitive to the body image shaming that goes on in our culture. But I also know that for some people who are overweight, the biggest concern is short-term and long-term health. So let’s talk about ways we can avoid the traps of unnecessary weight gain that can lead to health issues. And that is different than a discussion about someone’s “set weight” which varies from person to person and body frame to body frame.
Processed foods overload – they are cheap and convenient, but they are also full of sodium, sugar, chemicals and empty calories. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it will crave more food.
Crowd out processed foods by adding in more unprocessed, whole foods into your diet. They are nutrient-dense, and when your body gets the necessary nutrients, you will have fewer cravings. To reduce the cost of buying fresh produce, visit the farmer’s market to get seasonal fruits and vegetables that are available in abundance. Plus, since they are local, you are not paying for the long-distance transportation cost. Avoid foods at the grocery store that are boxed or packaged.
Sedentary lifestyle – many people are taking in more than they burn especially during this pandemic!
Find the kind of movement that you enjoy. It does not have to be a sweaty workout in a boring gym! Physical movement can be taking a walk with your dog, playing catch with your kids, dancing with your friends or tending to your garden. Start small – how about taking 15 – 30 minute during lunch break to walk around the block? And if your work involves long hours sitting, try to stand up every hour and walk around (or even in place) for a minute or two.
Supersize me – we have become a nation/world of supersized portions and supersized dishware. Our plates have become larger and larger. We need more food to fill the plate. Our perception of portion size is affected by the size of the plate – the larger the plate, the larger the portion, and that can lead to eating more.
At home, use smaller plates, and even try eating with a salad plate. It’s ok to go for seconds, but be sure to pause and get in touch with your sense of hunger before you put more food into your body. Become intentional about what you eat. When eating out, try ordering an appetizer as main course, share a main course with a friend, or ask to have half of your main course put into takeout container before it’s served.
Time management – most people are always on the go. They eat while they are multi-tasking, and this mindless munching often makes people overeat because they don’t register how much they have eaten. Many people don’t have time to cook – they depend on fast food, take out, or dining out – more often than not such foods are loaded with fat, sugar, sodium, and hidden calories.
Take time to develop mindful eating habits. Get slow, take deep breaths, and make a point to appreciate the taste, texture and smell of every bite. Make some rules for yourself – e.g. never eat in the car while driving, never eat any snacks right out of the bag (pouring it out into a bowl can increase awareness of portion size), or always eat sitting down with utensils.
Stress – when we are stressed, our body produces the stress hormone cortisol, which packs a triple whammy. Cortisol slows metabolism, affects blood sugar level, increase fat storage, and promote cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods.
Stress management is a big topic. When you feel stress coming on: sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Try to block out at least 5 minutes a day of quiet time when you can sit and relax – no computer, no cellphone, no kids – that will help you refocus you energy.
Ultimately this about self-care and living a wellness lifestyle that allows for optimal health.