Diet, Nutrition and Obesity

Diet, Nutrition and Obesity

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By Dt. Archana Batra, Dietitian/Nutritionist

The disease of obesity is quickly gaining importance as a major health concern. Genetics and hormones play a role in obesity, but not as big of a role as you do. For the vast majority of us, genes may set the lower limits of our weight, but we set the upper limits by our food choices and personal nutrition. Most of those food choices contain high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener produced using cornstarch. It contains a mixture of simple sugars called glucose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup can contain up to 90% fructose. High fructose corn syrup can raise blood sugar levels which raise insulin production, both of which play a large role in regulating hunger. High fructose corn syrup doesn’t have the same impact as other forms of carbohydrates such as glucose, which comes from cane sugar.

Are Liquid Diets the Answer?

Not everyone even loses weight on an all-liquid diet. For one thing, it is terribly difficult to maintain. The body will always crave solid food, so even if some weight is initially lost, it will become harder and harder to avoid giving in to temptation. Usually, after a prolonged lack of solid food, too much food is eaten to make up for the lack and the weight comes right back. In fact, more weight is often gained than was lost.

Liquid diets often make poor weight loss plans, but they can be a good start to something more easily maintained. All-liquid diets suffer from a number of flaws, such as:

  1. Slowing down the metabolism, as the body begins to perceive it is starving, which will cause more calories to be stored as fat, rather than burned as energy
  2. Amenorrhea or a cessation of menstrual cycles unrelated to pregnancy
  3. Constipation due to the lack of food for the digestive tract to push, which causes waste materials to back up
  4. Liquid diets that are high in protein can cause electrolyte imbalances serious enough to affect the rhythm of the heart.
  5. A quarter of those who are on long-term liquid diets will develop gall stones, especially anyone who has a family history, or other risk factors, for such developments.

How Skipping Meals Affects Weight Gain?

Skipping meals causes your body to start holding on to any food it gets. The human body is governed by a number of hormonal signals. Hunger, or a lack of energy from food, creates the hunger hormone (ghrelin), which most people respond to by eating. When the body feels it has had enough food, it releases the satiety hormone (leptin). A deficiency in leptin is why some eat more than they need and still feel hungry. If the hunger hormone is released, but no food is provided, the body will start burning fat. It will also slow down a number of body functions that take energy, including metabolism. After that, more food will be stored as fat, rather than burned as energy.

Diet and obesity are very closely interlinked, as an unhealthy diet is one of the primary reasons for obesity. So if you want to get your obesity symptoms under control, you need to pay attention to your diet. Making healthier food choices will not only keep your weight under control but also decrease the risks of various heart related disorders.

Here are some diet guidelines that you can follow –

  1. Cut Back On Sugar: Sugar is something you need to cut back on, as it leads to weight gain and raises the risk of multiple disorders in the body. Avoid eating foods that are sugar heavy such as chocolates and cakes. Simple sugars raise your levels of blood sugar and may contribute to insulin resistance in the body, a major cause of type 2 diabetes.
  2. Avoid Processed Foods: Eat home cooked meals instead of gorging on packed, ready to eat food. They contain hidden sugars and trans-fats which raise your risk of high blood cholesterol. Eat simple home cooked food at home as it is your best bet to keep your weight at optimal levels.
  3. Add Fiber To Your Diet: Adding fiber to your diet has two advantages – it promotes satiety and also helps in reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad variant of it) in the body. Vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage are rich in fiber, so slice them and use these leafy greens in your sandwich.
  4. Eat Fat: Contrary to popular belief, eating foods rich in fat does not make you fat. Include foods such as almonds, walnuts and cashews as they contain heart healthy fats that promote healthy cholesterol (HDL) levels. Another reason to include fats is that they promote satiety, thus, making you eat less throughout the day.
  5. Drink Plenty of Water: Drinking 2-3 liters of water on a regular basis is an effective tool in controlling your appetite. Thirst and hunger are often inter-related, as a thirsty person is more likely to indulge in sugar based foods for immediate appeasement. So the next time when you feel tremendously hungry, drink a glass of water before eating any food.
  6. Control Your Portion Sizes: Controlling your portion size is important to keep your weight in check. Eating super healthy foods in uncontrolled amounts is not good as it still adds extra calories. So stick to a stable portion size and enjoy your meal.

Keep Everything in Balance-

Together, fats, carbohydrates and proteins make up the macronutrients. All three of these are needed in healthy diets, despite what the no-fat and no-carbohydrate diets that have become so popular might say. It is important, however, that these be the right kinds of fats and carbohydrates in the right amounts. Fats should still be the smallest part of a healthy diet. These fats should all be of the monounsaturated types, such as olive oil, avocadoes and Omega-3 fatty acids. Carbohydrates should be the biggest part of your diet, provided they are the correct kind – complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, and whole wheat breads and pastas. Complex carbohydrates slowly digest, which means they don’t cause an insulin spike as simple carbohydrates (white bread and sugary foods) do. Insulin spikes lead to weight gain.

Learn How Much Is Enough-

You will need to know how many calories you need to keep your current weight before you know how many calories you’ll have to drop to lose weight. Once you’ve got that down, it’s time to create a diet plan that gives you the macronutrients you need in order to have slow and steady weight loss. If you are on medications or being treated for any medical or physical disorder, these need to be taken into consideration before you make any big changes. Consulting a physician should not just be a suggestion – it should be standard practice.