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Who doesn't want to lose weight? Whether it's five pounds or 50, I think most of us are usually looking to shed some pesky pounds.
According to recent studies, about 1/3 of Americans are obese, and between 1998 and 2006, the obesity rate rose 37 percent in the U.S. Obesity-related illnesses send our health care costs soaring; accounting for an estimated $147 billion in 2008, nearly 10 percent of all U.S. medical spending. Scary to realize the health risk that extra weight carries.
When I think back to my (naturally) skinny childhood, and watch my (naturally) skinny son today, I realize that we naturally did/do some things that experts advise. And since my mid-forties, well, the "natural" part of being thin is no longer so "natural" - it takes constant work and reminders to myself.
Here are some good reminders. I say "reminders" because personally, I find that if I eat mindlessly, it's too easy to get carried away. Tapping into my consciousness is a good way to keep it in check (usually)!
- Put down your fork between bites: I am a painfully slow eater, and I guess this is why. It's just what I do. Maybe I learned it long ago from my mother. But it really does help you relax and slow your pace, and it lends itself nicely to the next rule, which is...)
- Chew your food thoroughly: An old health adage. Digestion starts in the mouth, with enzymes in our saliva. Ever hear of Horace Fletcher? He was an American health food faddist of the Victorian era. His nickname was "The Great Masticator," as he was fond of saying this: "Nature will castigate those who don't masticate." His advice? Food should be chewed 32 times, which works out to approximately 100 times a minute. I'm not quite sure if anyone can really follow this rule, but it's a good one to keep in mind. (After all, if you spend lots of time chewing, you don't have much time left to eat!)
- Push your plate away when you've had enough - or before you even think you're full: Children may have been starving in Africa - they still are - but that somehow didn't work to get me to clean my plate when I was younger. I stopped when I had enough. And today, although sometimes the food is so good that I'm tempted to eat it all, I try hard to remind myself that it takes somewhere up to 20 minutes for the stomach to send a signal to the brain that you're full. I always hate the sensation of not being mindful of how much I've eaten, and then, 15 minutes later, feeling like my stomach is about to explode.
- Eat what you want to - in small enough quantities to be satisfying: This is hard for many people, as they fear eating "fattening" foods. I'm trying to follow this since I love desserts so much and don't want to feel deprived. It's really hard - especially with ice cream! - so instead of eating out of the container, I take out a measuring cup and leave it at that. Or, if we're out to dinner, I'll order a piece of cheesecake and share it with the table - or take a few bites and pretend it no longer exists.
- Use smaller plates: This fools your eye into thinking that there's lots of food on the plate. Sounds silly, I know; but it usually works. We have really large dinner plates at home, and I find that the bigger the plate, the more food I pile on it. Turns out that a smaller plate is the "right" size for me - it's enough to fill me.
There's lots more advice out there and I'm sure you've heard it many times over. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and their obesity initiative has their own behavior-changing advice here.You might also like to read this about weight management.
You might also like to read this about eating right for your workout.
Lastly, I found some great easy weight loss tips, like heating your skillet before adding the oil- fifty of them, in fact.