Dieting by Making Permanent Lifestyle Changes

fattening foods
In the developed world, many of the problems we have with excess weight, and its associated health problems, stem from poor eating habits and lack of exercise. We eat too fast and rely too much on very tasty, but non-nutritive, fast and pre-prepared foods.  We spend too much time behind computers or in front of the television set. We relax and entertain too often with alcoholic beverages and high calorie snack foods.

To lose weight and keep it off permanently, and to enjoy the benefits of healthy weight and its associated health benefits, it is necessary for us to each evaluate our individual lifestyles and eating habits.  Once evaluated, we can then make positive changes.

Eating and exercise habits are usually formed in childhood.  Many factors blend together to create these habits, good or bad; ethnic background, location and circumstances of  upbringing, economic circumstances, parental interest and involvement in healthy (or unhealthy) lifestyles, and many others. 

Some ethic/economic groups have traditions and history of frying or deep-frying foods in lard or other saturated fats and the use of large amounts of processed flour bread, processed rice, sugar, butter, cooking oils, etc.  These traditions (that have a lot in common with fast food) are very ‘calorie dense’ and high in carbohydrates and are relatively unhealthy.  These type of eating habits, even when regular exercise is used,  leads to high levels of obesity, high cholesterol and risk of heart trouble.  Conversely, traditions that emphasize the use of  more natural foods; whole grains, lean meats, fish, vegetables, unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil), nuts, etc. have lower risk of obesity and its associated problems.

Making changes in the preparation of food can have great benefits without necessarily changing the basics of a person’s diet.  Replacing sausage and bacon with lean meat saves on fat consumption. Substituting grilling meat and vegetables for frying or deep-frying saves calories and saturated fat ingestion.  Baking or broiling meat and vegetables, as well as adding herbs and spices, and forgoing salt, adds interesting flavors and health benefits. 

Increasing green vegetables, and reducing the use of starchy vegetables adds natural vitamins and minerals and saves carbohydrate calories. Limiting pasta, rice or bread side dishes also helps. Starting meals with a large salad has the benefit of adding bulk and vitamins, as well as taking the edge off the appetite prior to the main course. Having fresh fruits for dessert, rather than ice cream or cake also saves on calories. Snacking on fruit or nuts between meals, rather than candy, cookies, potato chips, etc. adds nutrition in place of empty calories.  While entertaining it isn’t hard to substitute healthy snacks; fresh vegetables, meat and cheese with a healthy dip for more traditional pizza, nachos, fried chicken wings, corn chips, bean dip, etc.

Massive benefits can also be derived from the addition of moderate exercise to dietary changes.  Exercise can be as easy as taking a walk before work or after dinner, to engaging in team sports, joining a gym or an exercise class, swimming,  doing more housework or yard work, or any number of other activities that will boost your heart rate and oxygen levels and improve muscular strength.

There are many relatively easy and sensible ways to improve health by making some lifestyle changes.  Making these changes, and then sticking with them will improve your health and your lifestyle and will be well worth the effort.

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