How do you lose weight? Substitute diet drinks for sugary drinks. Eat low-fat foods. Just eat less of the bad foods — it’s all about the calories. We are told, “Just have more willpower.”
These ideas are false. They are food- and diet-industry propaganda that makes and keeps us fat and sick. Lies by the food industry combined with bad government policy based on food industry lobbying are the major causes of our obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Now, more than 35 percent of Americans are obese, and almost 70 percent are overweight. This is not an accident but the result of careful marketing and money in politics.
We are told it is all about making better choices. If we all took more personal responsibility, we could stop this obesity and diabetes epidemic. We have been told there are no good or bad foods, that the key to weight loss is moderation. And, of course, if we all just exercised more, all of us would lose weight. These ideas hold us hostage.
by The FIRM nutrition expert Sara Ryba, R.D., C.D.N.
I remember my first sleepover as a young child, when my friend’s mom said we could have a midnight snack. It was so exciting to be able to eat junk food so late at night!
Of course, my opportunities to gorge like that were few and far between. But regular late-night noshing plagues many of us and can cause weight problems if you don’t control it.
Do you find that you consume too many calories after dinner? Are you continually returning to the kitchen for “one more thing”? Do you wake up in the morning annoyed that you snacked too much the night before? If so, you are not alone. Studies have suggested that people feel less inhibited to overdo the snacks after dark.
So, let’s do something about it! Nighttime eating is my weight-loss clients’ single most common obstacle. But it is a challenge worth taking on, as conquering this habit will open the door to long-lasting, successful weight loss.
Last week I began a discussion about a modern epidemic, a deadly disease that one of every two Americans has, a disease that’s making us fat and sick. And 90 percent of those affected don’t even know they have it!
This disease is diabesity, the continuum of abnormal biology that ranges from mild insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes.
Do vitamins kill people?
How many people have died from taking vitamins?
Should you stop your vitamins?
It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science, and the very nature of scientific research. It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).
That brings us to the latest apparent casualty: vitamins. The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.
If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
— Harry Truman
The current media debate about the benefits (or lack of harm) of high fructose corn syrup in our diet misses the obvious. The average American has increased his consumption of HFCS (mostly from sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food) from zero to more than 60 pounds per year. Obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven-fold. HFCS is not perhaps the only cause, but one that cannot be ignored.
Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. Recently, these have been used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association’s attempt to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful and assert through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that can be a healthy part of our diets when used in moderation.
Except for one problem: Even when used in moderation, it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.
Most of us pursue fitness in order to look good. In this quest, we run an extra mile to lose five pounds or pick up a heavier weight to trim our arms. A balanced fitness program and sensible eating habits are powerful tools for weight loss. However, the same tools we use to look our best and lose weight are also powerful tools in maintaining the quality of our lives and our health.
What is physical fitness? Physical fitness includes five health-related components: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility and body composition. The FIRM workouts are designed with these components in mind. Once you’ve begun to see results on the scale, in your jeans and with your tape measure, what are the benefits you don’t see?
Are millions of us born with a genetic defect that makes us produce too much stomach acid? Do we just have a major evolutionary design flaw that requires us to take powerful acid-blocking drugs to prevent heartburn and reflux?
I believe that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “no.”
At least 10 percent of Americans have episodes of heartburn every day, and 44 percent have symptoms at least once a month. Overall, reflux and heartburn (also known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease) affect a whopping 25 to 35 percent of the U.S. population! As a result, acid-blocking medications are the third-top-selling type of drug in America today. Two other drugs to treat reflux, Nexium and Prevacid, are among the world’s best-selling drugs and account for approximately $5.1 and $3.4 billion in sales annually.
I spent part of the holidays in Los Angeles this year, surrounded by a sea of asphalt and traffic sprawling for hundreds of square miles. Shuttling between relatives and friends on the maze of 14-lane freeways, I soon felt spiritually exhausted by the visual din of billboards, power lines, parking lots, storefronts, neon signs and cars blowing past at 80 mph.
Despite the common observation that obesity runs in families, genetic research shows that the habits you inherit from your family are more important than the genes you inherit. Obesity genes account for only 5 percent of all weight problems. So, we have to wonder, what causes the other 95 percent of weight problems?
Imagine eating 12 pounds of food a day — and still staying thin and healthy! That may sound crazy, but it’s exactly what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate for millennia. Of course, I wouldn’t advise anyone today to eat 12 pounds of food, because the food in our society lacks one major ingredient that our ancestors ate in nearly all their food — fiber!