What’s Making Us Gain Weight!

Why Are We Getting Fatter?

Fork with Tape MeasureHavard University researchers just published a 20-year study in the The New England Journal of Medicine that followed 120,000 men and women, detailing the good and bad foods that contribute to obesity.  While a major culprit was the potato chip for making us gain weight, the bottom line was changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.

Health and Fitness Briefs

Lack of Sleep Affects Health:

Scientists say that sleep affects everything from appetite – surprise! – to grades – no surprise!  Can lack of sleep make you crave French fries?  Researchers found that people are more likely to give in to temptation and eat high-calories foods when they are sleepy.  We learned that the hard way in college by ordering a pizza to keep us going for the all-nighter.

Understanding the Sleep Connection

If you are sleep-deprived, which means you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality of sleep, then your metabolism will not function properly.  Nightly hormones, ghrelin, tells us when to eat, and leptin, tells us when to stop eating.  So basically, if you awake during  a normal sleep time, you are wanting to eat and you satisfy that urge.

Get Accurate Weigh-ins on Your Scale

What is one of the first objectives we have in the morning?  Getting on the scale and weighing.  But how accurate are the numbers?  Here are some tips which might help give you a less stressful moment on the scale:

  • Weigh yourself weekly– your weight can fluctuate by two or three pounds from day to day based on fluid changes.  Weekly weigh-ins will give you a more realistic  – probably a less frustrating picture.  Also, track it on a chart for a visual reminder.
  • Stick to one time of day – if you weigh yourself at night,the next morning you may “drop” several pounds due to fluid loss during sleep.  Many people prefer weigh-ins first thing in the morning before eating.
  • Position your scale correctly – scales should sit on a hard surface.
  • Consider your clothing – wear the same type of clothes at each weigh-in so your outfit won’t be a factor.  A pair of jeans and a belt, for example, can add up to two pounds.
  • Go scale shopping – some models now offer advanced functions such as measuring body fat or calculating weight loss over time.  Don’t skimp on your scales.
  • Don’t get too hung up – numbers on a scale are only one measure of healthful weight loss.  Also consider body fat percentage, muscle tone and loss of inches from your body.

Watch Out for the Not-So-Healthful Alternatives

Lot’s of foods are presented as healthy choices when they are anything but.  The following list will help you identify those foods:

  • Whole-grain bagels – over 340 calories and that is without the cream cheese.
  • High-fiber yogurt – yogurt does not naturally contain fiber.  Companies add synthetic fiber which does not have the same benefits as the real stuff.
  • Drinks with “servings of fruits and vegetables” – you will miss the nutrients like fiber and numerous vitamins.  And these drinks are loaded with sugars.
  • Frozen diet entrees – you are usually getting vastly processed ingredients and an excessive amount of sodium.
  • Fat-free cheese – versions of this cheese like American, cheddar, and mozzarella contain more chemicals and stabilizers than regular cheese.  Fat-free cheese also contains double the sodium.
  • Baked and fat-free chips – while lower in fat, they have more sodium and sugar and almost as many calories  as regular chips.

Focus on Food

To control overeating, it helps to focus on the food during the meal.  While the statement seems a contradiction in weight loss control, try these following tips and you will be less likely to lose track of your hunger level and ignore the fact you are not hungry anymore:

  • Don’t eat while watching television
  • Don’t eat while cruising the Internet
  • Don’t eat while working at your desk
  • Don’t eat while standing up
  • Don’t eat while reading

When dining with others, enjoy the conversation, but don’t let it distract you from the food, how much you are eating, and when you feel full.

Dining Out Sensibly

Dining out has become the mainstay of the average person.  While difficult at best to maintain control of your eating when you are not in control of the food, there are some selections that are somewhat more healthful and alternatives to eating out.  One caveat to the following selections – they are contain more than 50% of recommended daily amount of sodium. 

  • Venetian Apricot Chicken – Olive Garden – 380 calories, 4 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 8 grams fiber and 1420 mg sodium
  • Barbeque Grilled Chicken  – Ruby Tuesday- 592 calories, 4 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 1239 mg sodium
  • Margarita Grilled Chicken – Chili’s – 260 calories, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 5 grams fiber, 720 mg sodium
  • Hearts of Palm Salad with Chicken – Salsa’s – 325 calories, 4 grams fat, 525 mg sodium

In our fast paced society, it is all too common to feel out of balance which can affect your health.  The above suggestions and thoughts will help you restore balance to your health, take charge of your life, and look at the big picture.  Make time for relaxation and fun!

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