Looking Good, Living More Healthfully

Looking Good, Living More Healthfully

It seems like there is a fast food restaurant on every corner of town. People eat out so commonly that they usually give you street directions according to where the various eating houses exist. Statistics reveal that women who eat out five or more times a week consume nearly 300 more calories per day than women who eat out less often. Furthermore, children who eat out will consume almost double the amount of calories they normally eat in a home-cooked meal.

Temptations to eat are commonplace. Eye-appealing, good-tasting food is displayed everywhere. Clever Madison-Avenue marketing makes self-discipline difficult. Self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23, 24), is a diminishing quality in today’s consumer-oriented society. Many people find it really challenging to even take a two-hour flight between New York and Chicago without eating.

Fast Foods Are a Concern

We find that the type of food we choose can make a huge difference in our daily caloric consumption. For example, an orange has only 60 calories while a can of orange soda is 180 calories. A baked potato has 110 calories while a medium serving of French fries has 320 calories. An apple has 70 calories while a piece of apple pie has almost 300 calories. And a slice of whole wheat bread has 60 calories, while a piece of cake with frosting packs over 400 calories.

When people were asked to eat fast food twice a day for one month, without exercising, some interesting results were seen. They gained weight, and a diagnostic liver test showed the enzyme ALT was elevated, indicative of liver damage. Risk of death was calculated to have increased by 63 percent.

Foods that are popular today tend to be high in calories, fat and saturated fats, sugar, and salt. Such foods as ice cream, sodas, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, fries, chips, shakes, energy bars, cookies and candies, and like fare appeal to the palate but are loaded with calories. These foods are low in fiber and some vitamins and minerals.

Contribution of Inactivity

In today’s society, fingers are getting far more exercise than the legs! We have automated cars and automatic garage door openers, escalators, T.V. remote controls, drive-thru fast food jaunts, on-line shopping, DVD movies, computer games, and 24/7 entertainment available. Hours are spent working on Facebook and chatting on the internet. Our sedentary lifestyle is not exactly a recipe for producing trim figures and well-conditioned bodies.

Health Problems

The result of all of this is a nation that is grossly overweight. Two out of every three adults in the U.S. are overweight, and one out of every three is obese. Obesity rates have doubled in the past 25 years and continue to rise. In 2009 alone, 300,000 people died from obesity and its complications. And the weight problem is fast spreading to our children and teenagers. One in five children is overweight. Nine million children (or fifteen percent of American kids, aged six to eleven years old) are overweight. The number of overweight children has tripled over the past three decades. As a result we are seeing more and more young people show up with abnormal blood lipid values, elevated blood pressure, and elevated blood glucose levels typical of pre-diabetes. In fact, we are on the verge of a diabetes epidemic amongst the youth.

The Vegetarian Solution

Choosing to become a vegetarian is one solution to the weight problem. Vegetarians have a lower average body weight than omnivores. Vegans have an even lower BMI (body mass index) than do all other vegetarians. For both men and women, BMI is observed to increase as the frequency of meat consumption increases. This has an important impact upon one’s risk of chronic diseases, since the presence of overweight and obesity increases one’s risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.

A vegetarian lifestyle is an important component of a successful weight management plan. In the EPIC-Oxford Study, weight gain over a five year period was lowest among those who moved to a diet containing fewer animal foods. Generally, one must follow a vegetarian diet for at least about five years before seeing its benefits. Among Seventh-day Adventists in Barbados, the number of obese vegetarians, who had followed the diet for more than 5 years, was 70 percent less than the number of obese omnivores, while recent vegetarians (following the diet less than 5 years) had body weights similar to omnivores. Vegetarians may have a lower BMI due to their higher consumption of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Eat Less, Live Longer

The amount of food that we eat can make a significant difference to our longevity. When adult rhesus monkeys were fed a diet containing either 100 percent or 70 percent of their usual calorie intake, it was observed that more of the calorie-restricted monkeys were still alive after 20 years. One-half of the control group had died compared to only 20 percent deaths among the calorie-restricted subjects. The calorie-restricted monkeys also had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as less brain atrophy, body fat, and muscle loss.

What about humans? Do they benefit from eating less? It was observed that a 30 percent caloric restriction in diet produced a significant 20 percent increase in verbal memory scores in a group of elderly adults after three months, compared to the controls. This increase in cognitive function correlated with decreases both in fasting plasma levels of insulin and high sensitive-CRP, a marker of inflammatory processes that are key to the development of disease states.

In the Okinawan Centenarian Study it was found that elderly Okinawans do not normally overindulge. They live by the Confucian-inspired adage of hara hachi bu—eat until the stomach is 80 percent full. They eat to satisfy hunger, not to feel full. As a result, few among the elderly are overweight on the Japanese island. Their diet features high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, and many Okinawans maintain good health and vitality into old age.

People will tend to eat more food when there is a greater variety to choose from. For example, people will eat more pasta at a meal if they can choose from two to three pasta shapes compared to when only one shape is served. Eating low-calorie-dense food is also important for good health. A heaping plate of stir-fried tofu and greens has the same volume as one hamburger with fries, but only one fifth the calories.

A Tough Road Ahead

For many persons, the pursuit of a trimmer body weight has become the search for a better way of life. All told, Americans spend $40 billion a year on weight-loss regimens, and diet books have taken up permanent residence on the New York Times best-seller list. While many Americans want to lose weight successfully, losing weight is not easy. Most people find it a tough challenge.

Some people can lose weight on almost any diet. But many never stick to the diet. Often it is not easy to follow. The challenge is to sustain the weight loss, and prevent the pounds from coming back. To be truly successful, lifestyle changes must become a new and permanent way of life.

The fastest way to lose weight is not necessarily the best. But which diet is the best? A host of diets are available, all promising quick and wonderful results. With names like Sugar Busters, Protein Power, Fit for Life, South Beach, Eat More and Weigh Less, Slim Fast, Fat Belly Diet, and the Hollywood Diet, losing weight never sounded so easy and so much fun as now. But are these diets safe and reliable? Can they guarantee a person to lose 20 pounds over the next 6 months, and to keep it off for the next 5 to 10 years?

Low Carb Not the Answer

The media has done a very effective job in promoting low-carb diets such as Atkins. Carbs have been presented as being the real villains. While these low-carb diets are a popular way to provide a quick fix with measurable weight loss over the first few months, they may be unsafe over the long haul unless they contain plant rather than animal proteins. Such a diet, featuring plant-based proteins, is called an eco-Atkins diet.

Carbohydrate-bashing has become popular in the press, but the evidence of science suggests that a high fiber, high starch diet (containing slow-release carbs), which is modest in both fat and protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, is the most healthful diet. This program is actually the opposite of the Atkins diet which allows you to indulge in high fat foods as much as you wish.

Seven Safe Guidelines

No one diet seems to fit with everyone’s temperament. A person must truly find the diet that is best for them. When it comes to weight loss, the fastest is not necessarily the safest or the most successful program in the long-term. The following seven simple guidelines can make weight loss a realistic possibility and weight management a success.

  1. Set realistic goals. Don’t try to lose more than one to two pounds a week (two to four kilograms per month). Studies have shown that 2 out of every 3 dieters typically quit within 3 months, while up to 85 percent quit by 6 months due to dissatisfaction with their results. You need to think and talk positively about your efforts towards weight management and set about establishing new eating habits.
  2. Move it and lose it—unwanted pounds, that is. Dieting can only be effective in the long-term when adjustments to food intake are combined with a regular exercise program. Dieting tends to lower the BMR making it more difficult for you to lose weight. But 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day will help prevent this and keep the fat cells burning. Exercise does more than assist you with better weight management. It improves your sense of well-being and your mental attitude. It helps you manage stress more effectively. It also helps lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, while raising your good HDL cholesterol and improving insulin function. Exercise is vital to win the battle of the bulge, keep the waistline under control, and achieve lasting success in weight management.
  3. Don’t eliminate all fat from your diet. Some fat is needed to satisfy hunger. But the emphasis should be on foods high in water and fiber, and low in calories such as fruits and vegetables (for example, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, and squash). Foods that require work to consume, such as apples and oranges, are desirable since they slow down the rate of ingestion, and the gelling pectins they contain slow down the glucose absorption.
  4. Portion control is essential for success. This means seriously reducing your serving sizes. And please, no second helpings, except for low-calorie salad items. Unfortunately, the fast food industry routinely delivers super-sized foods to the consumer. Portion distortion is the order of the day. Many people are actually unaware of how much they really eat. Food serving sizes have grown over the past two decades so that a serving size today contains about 100 calories more than it did 20 years ago, while the average beverage serving size has increased from 250 to 625 mls (8 to 20 ounces). Personal weight would be better managed if smaller servings were consumed. And one should eat slowly, so that satiety can be reached with fewer calories.
  5. Deal with your problems, anxieties, frustrations, and with depression without turning to food. Food should not be considered as a panacea for emotional hurts and life’s disappointments. Eating should provide quality nutrition and not be used to provide emotional healing. Comfort foods can add a lot of calories.
  6. It is important to feel good when you are trying to lose weight. It is essential to drink lots of water to keep hydrated, and avoid sugary and fatty snacks and junk foods. High-calorie snack foods and drinks can be ruinous to any weight management program since these foods are usually high in fat, calories and sugar and low in fiber and many vitamins. Starting the day with breakfast is a good move since long periods without food should be avoided. Getting adequate rest and sleep every day is also crucial.
  7. Don’t go it alone. Create a circle of people around you who support your objective of losing weight, who exercise with you, who motivate you to stay on course, and encourage you when things are not going well.

Highly-restrictive diets and inflexible exercise programs are rarely maintained on a long-term basis. For true success one must choose two or three habits to change and work on those lifestyle changes for two to three months. By then, they will very likely have become established habits. Which ones should you start with? It’s always a good start to pick the low-hanging fruit! And people will be more likely to maintain a healthful diet and a regular physical activity program if these are enjoyable, simple, and inexpensive.

Exercise vs. Calories

It is interesting to note that a pound of fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories. Those extra calories can be exercised off. But the catch is, it takes a lot of exercise to do so! It boils down to about 100 calories per mile, or, 35 miles per pound. So to burn up this one pound of fat, you need to exercise (walk or jog) about 11 hours and 20 minutes! Thus, the more successful and easier approach would be to both cut down the caloric intake and continue exercising regularly.

To give you several examples we have induced a chart that shows how much extra exercise time it takes to burn up the extra calories when eat a piece of pie compared to an apple. Eighty-seven extra minutes will do the job. Quite obviously, it takes both discipline and self-control to stay trim.

Item 1 Item 2 Extra Walking Comments
Apple: 1 medium
70 calories
Apple Pie: 1 piece
297 calories
57 minutes These extra minutes of walking are the amount of time that is necessary to burn up the difference in calories consumed.
Strawberries: 1 bowl
49 calories
Strawberry Milkshake: 1 small serving
319 calories
8g fat
5g saturated fat
31mg cholesterol
66 minutes More than an hour of extra walking!
Baked Potato: 1 large
110 calories
French Fries: 1 medium serving
320 calories
19g fat
2g saturated fat
45 minutes French fries are harder to digest.
Oat Burger Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
263 calories
5g fat
Hamburger: 1 patty
438 calories
20g fat
8g saturated fat
70mg cholesterol
43 minutes Hamburger raises malondialdehyde in blood promoting atherosclerosis and cancer.
Scrambled Tofu: 1/2 cup
74 calories
4g fat
Scrambled Eggs: 1/2 cup
190 calories
14g fat
4g saturated fat
1g trans fat
387mg cholesterol
28 minutes Don`t forget oxidized cholesterol is dangerous.
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