Being overweight or obese is now the leading cause of preventable death in Australia, overtaking smoking. This month’s findings in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health have revealed the seriousness of obesity in this country.
The study from Western Australia revealed that more than 60 percent of adults and one in four children are overweight or obese. These results are expected to reflect the population across the nation.
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The World Health Organization defines adults with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 as overweight and those with a BMI over 30 as obese. While policymakers are now scrambling to find ways to combat this alarming problem, there are plenty of ways you can take responsibility for your health and control your weight through diet and lifestyle.
What to do if you are overweight
When some people realize they are overweight or obese and need to shed some pounds, they panic and start skipping meals. But, unfortunately, starving themselves absolutely won’t help. Not only does it slow down your metabolism (which is the fire for burning calories), but skipping meals also leads to low blood sugar and increases cravings for the wrong foods.
Ideally, you should never go more than five hours without a small meal to keep your energy levels stable. Additionally, eating during the day burns more calories than in the afternoon or evening.
Long-term health maintenance has to be realistic and is about balancing eating what’s necessary for the body and what’s pleasurable only some of the time. However, a willingness to take some steps toward change can produce results.
Eating various foods of different colors is a great way to start (this doesn’t include the wrapping!). Of course, green foods are always a good choice for people trying to lose weight.
Carbohydrate foods don’t just mean bread, pasta, and rice. Vegetables are also carbohydrates and supply energy. A bonus is that you can virtually fill up on raw salads and steamed greens without limit.
Flaxseed oil mixed with balsamic vinegar makes a healthy and delicious dressing. It is high in essential fats and improves the body’s insulin response. The vital fats in avocado and nuts are necessary for healthy cell membranes and help the body let go of the bad fats that may be sitting on the hips or tummy.
Avoid margarine and trans-fats in cakes and biscuits, as they contain lots of empty calories.
At each meal, always include a small amount of protein. If you eat the protein first, it helps to suppress your appetite and stabilize blood sugar. This is because proteins are digested slower than carbohydrates, so eat the fish, chicken, or eggs in a meal first and then the rest.
Other good protein foods include pumpkin seeds, nuts (no more than 30 at a time), lentils, beans, and miso soup. Save the fresh fruit as a dessert at the end of the meal. This prevents the blood sugar spikes that cause insulin release and lead to fat storage.
These are some essential lifestyle tips for losing weight:
- Stay well-hydrated
- Eat when relaxed and free of distractions
- Learn how to control stress
- Follow a daily exercise plan
A good exercise regimen should work up a sweat for at least 30 minutes. Without exercise, progress will be plodding.
Sleep is also vitally important for weight loss, and studies show that a lack of sleep can decrease metabolism and cause problems with insulin levels.
Alcohol intake must be kept to a minimum because it turns into sugar in the body, increases calorie intake, and burdens the liver. So it’s best to avoid alcohol or limit your consumption to one glass of wine a day if you are overweight and trying to shed some pounds.
Finally, weight loss is not just about making sacrifices. It involves discovering other sources of pleasure or emotional satisfaction. This may include taking baths, reading, meditation, massage, phoning a good friend, listening to music, or doing something creative and upbeat. Finding new ways to create delicious, healthy food is also part of the fun.