It seems that you can go no longer than a few days before you read or hear about the next report about the obesity explosion that has occurred and still is occurring, especially in North America and the United Kingdom. I’m sure that most of Europe must be experiencing the some obesity levels but for some reason it just seems not to be reported. Perhaps the people who report on these things think we’re not interested in Europe, or perhaps I just don’t get to hear about the reports.
Whatever the case may be, the UK and USA have an obesity problem, we are told, which is a little surprising because both countries seem to be utterly obsessed with diets. Every year brings a new diet and every new diet has its adherents and proselytizers. As goodtoknow.co.uk explains:
2013 was without a doubt the year of The 5:2 Diet. Everywhere we went someone seemed to be talking about the miracle weight loss plan which only required you to diet for two days out of seven….But what’s going to be the big diet news of 2014?
The jury’s still out on the diet that will win the most devotees in 2014, but some of the contenders to look for are The Alkaline Diet, The Japanese Diet, The Clean and Lean Diet, The Honey Diet and The Lemon Detox Diet.
But surely there’s another way? And the answer is: Yes there is; it’s called The Avoid the Fad Diet Diet and it goes something like this.
You don’t have to exercise….
…but being active is good for you. There are tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of people across the world who go weak in the legs and feel nauseous just at the thought of exercising. So the simple piece of advice I’m offering is: never tell yourself you need to exercise. Wendy C Fries says:
If the word ‘exercise’ inspires you to creative avoidance, then avoid it. Maybe the trick to enjoying a workout may be to never call it working out. So burn calories and invigorate muscles by beach-combing, riding bikes, grass skiing, making snow angels, hiking, washing the car, playing Frisbee…
There are so many things that you can do that will keep you active, but no-one would consider them to be exercise. Perhaps one of the best ways to get some regular exercise (oops, sorry, activity) is to buy a dog. The bigger the dog the better: the bigger the dog the more exercise it needs. I’d recommend a Labrador. These are working dogs and they love the outdoors. They’ll walk all day and never tire. And don’t think you’ll be able to skip a day when it rains; your Labrador won’t let you. Walking for an hour or so will burn up anything between 300-400 calories.
Sharing meals can…
…save calories and money. Have you seen the size of some of the meals you get served in restaurants or takeaways? They are enormous; far more than any one person needs to eat. So why pay for more food than you need and more food than is good for you? One way around this is to share a meal. My next door neighbors eat out quite often. Neither he nor his wife enjoys cooking and they like to eat out. But the portions they are given in restaurants are just too large for them. Therefore, they generally share a main meal. They are also keen to explain that this allows them to eat out twice for the cost of going out once.
I know what you’re thinking: what do the restaurants think about this? It has to be said that not all restaurants will be quite so accommodating as the ones my neighbors eat in; however, you’ll be surprised how many will take the view that it is much better to serve a couple of customers with what they want, because it is a sale that they would otherwise not make and these customers may well come back again and again.
If you enjoy food…
…continue to enjoy food. There is a heavy dose of realism required here. On the one hand, you know that if you want to lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight, you cannot take in more energy (in the form of calories) than you use up. If you consume an extra 500 calories a day – that is if each day you fail to burn up 500 of the calories you have eaten, in seven days (one week) you will have consumed enough extra calories to put on one pound. That’s not a mathematically precise calculation but it’s close enough to bring home to you the point.
On the other hand, if you like food, you are going to be left very unsatisfied if you start trying to live on a diet of all sorts of low calorie alternatives. You know what you like and if you don’t get it at some point you’ll end up eating both your low calorie alternatives and the stuff you are trying to cut out. So what’s the answer?
Yet again the answer is smaller portions: smaller portions on smaller plates. Research in Australia on the size of the plates used to serve meals on suggests that size matters. Tom Kelso explains that:
The results showed a small increase in dishware size can lead to a substantial increase in calories available to be consumed, particularly if food is calorie dense. This reinforces the need to consider dishware size when developing strategies to prevent over-consumption.
Food for thought (pun intended) isn’t it. Something as simple as serving meals on a smaller plate may be an aid to a calorie controlled diet. It’s not quite as surprising as it first seems. Psychologists have told us for a long while that we eat with our eyes. That’s why the way food is presented is important. Good tasting food tastes even better when it is well presented.
I’m not sure whether The Avoid the Fad Diet Diet will be up there with the contenders for 2014’s diet of the year. It should be. It works. There is a very simple scientific principle that lies behind it. I’ve mentioned it already. When you follow The Avoid the Fad Diet Diet you eat no more than your body needs. That’s why it works. It’s as simple as that.