Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obesity Kills

A study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, with contributions from the University of Toronto and the University of Washington, showed that obesity racks up quite a few preventable deaths. The scary statistic shows that 216,000 deaths per year are due to obesity. That's more than I can count on 43,200 hands!

This is a sad statistic and one that we can fix. Americans need to quit munching on potato chips while sitting on the couch, and start making green shakes to power up their feet.

Little exercise and overeating has become quite the problem. But even small changes can turn this trend around.

The New York Times
asked readers to submit their rules for eating and then picked a few of their favorites. Here are some of my favorites from the list:

-The Chinese have a saying: "Eat until you're 7/10 full and save the other 3/10 for hunger." That way, food always tastes good, and you don't eat too much. -Nancy Ni
  • The Chinese seem to have nailed it with this quote. When you're hungry, food always tastes better. A healthy appetite can make a plate full of vegetable taste so much better. By leaving yourself just a little bit hungry, you set yourself up to enjoy a delicious meal later in the day.
-If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry. -Emma Fogt
  • This rule is something I relied on to help me quit snacking. Before, I used to mindlessly snack on what was often unhealthy, salty or sweet foods. Now, before I reach for a snack I ask myself, "Would I be content in eating a piece of fruit?" If the answer is no, then I know I am not hungry enough to eat a snack. I love fruit, so if I truly were hungry, I'd be satisfied. However instead, often times my mind has just become bored and has fallen astray, resulting in a craving for that sugary cookie lying on the counter.
-"You don't get fat from food you pray over." This was from a friend who pointed out that meals prepared at home, served at the table, and given thanks for are more appreciated and more healthful than food on the run. - Carol Jackson
  • I feel extremely fortunate to have had a mother who instilled into me the idea of family dinners. Throughout grade school and leading all the way until the end of high school, my family would come together on week nights to share a family dinner. After speaking with my friends, I have found that this isn't that typical anymore. More and more, people are eating on the couch, in their cars, while running to class, etc. etc. Instead of taking the time to sit down and turn meals into social, sensual rituals, people are mindlessly shoving food down their throats while on the run. This is a factor that I believe has greatly contributed to our obesity epidemic. When you're not sitting down to really taste and enjoy the food in your hands, your mind doesn't fully compensate for it, leading you to want more and more food. Also, home-cooked meals almost always tend to be healthier than those you can get out. Americans need to return to the sit-down meals, and leave driving for the car.
-Don't eat anything that took more energy to ship than to grow. -Carrie Cizauskas
  • Eat local. Load up on veggies. Cut back on processed foods. Grown your own food and burn your own calories while doing it. Enough said.
-Avoid snack foods with the "OH" sounds in their names. Doritos, cheetohs, fritos, tostitos, hostess ho hos, etc. -Donna David
  • This is often quite true when it comes to snack foods. Doritos, cheetohs, and many of the other OH's are loaded with artificial colorings and processed ingredients, as well as fat and calories. Unless it's a whole grain cheerio, skip the OH's.
-I am living in Japan and following these simple rules when preparing each meal: GO HO- Incorporate 5 different cooking methods (steamed rice, simmered vegetables, grilled tofu, sauteed vegetables, raw fish, etc.) GO SHIKI- Incorporate 5 colors (red, white, green, black, yellow) GO MI- Incorporate 5 flavors (Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, spicy). While it might look like a lot of work, it is actually very easy and helps with menu planning and shopping. - Yukari Sakamoto
  • Japan is one of the healthiest and slimmest nations. While they traditionally tend to eat a lot of healthy foods, such as brown rice and seafood, the technique above proves just why the Japanese can stay so thin. By satisfying an array of senses, one can feel more content, making it easier to stop after just one helping. The technique described above employs visual, textural, and taste differences that work towards satisfying each sense. By having a variety of textures, tastes, and colors, the mind and tastebuds won't have any missing part in which to yearn.
Use these rules to help you become a mindful eater and get the most out of your meals. Take time to fully savor and enjoy each bite that you take. This will require you to stop all else that you're doing, pop a squat, and bring your entire focus to the present moment, fully engaging in what you're eating. Yes, this is one time where it's unquestionably okay to take a seat. It's often said that next to sex, food is one of life's greatest pleasures. We certainly wouldn't want to rush through our sexual escapades, so why do we seemingly persist on rushing through our food?

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