Over the weekend, I watched a documentary called “Bite Size” that “Explores the roots of America’s obesity epidemic, as four kids make lifestyle changes that will set patterns for healthy living for years to come.”
I never watched “Biggest Loser,” but I had a feeling I knew how this would go — I have lived the roller-coaster ups and downs of “Biggest Loser”. In the process, I stopped putting sugar in my coffee, stopped drinking sugared soda, and then stopped drinking soda altogether because diet soda just tastes weird. Those are the positive casualties of my struggle to control my girth. Negatives were my getting far too close to being diabetic and a depressing resignation and acceptance that I was just built the way I was and nothing could change that . My weight was just something I could not control because I was a slothful glutton and I could not control my appetite.
Indeed, in “Bite Size”, we meet a girl who goes to weight camp to exercise (a lot) and learn to eat healthy (I’ve tried the “exercise it off” solution …); a boy who only wants to sit around and play video games (yo, me too … ); another boy who has Type 2 diabetes at 13 and wants to play football (kid, I coach my 8 year-old’s soccer team — you’d be better off playing soccer; there’s a LOT less risk of concussion and other serious injuries); and a girl who loves to dance. All four children are still obese at the end. It actually saddens me that weight camp girl put so much effort to get down to a reasonable weight, only to rebound a year later.
My feeling from the film’s takeaway was that the children felt better because they at least now accepted their problem. The weight problem wasn’t solved, but they were ok with that, and planned to move on with their lives. Another thing the film tried to emphasize was that if we could only get people to eat and exercise right, they could control their weight.
How depressing. Because these children showed that they could NOT control their weight, at least not following conventional wisdom. Let’s ask ourselves the obvious question: if trying to follow a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet and doing lots of exercise does not work, why do we still do it? The conventional wisdom is stupid! The authorities feeding us this pablum are illegitimate and only worthy of our scorn and derision! Don’t let ANYONE try to turn this around and blame you for a “lack of will-power” — anyone who tries is a dumbass!
Children, and I aim this comment specifically at Moises the video gamer whose father mildly berated him for “not moving”, YOUR WEIGHT PROBLEM IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Ok, I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist, so you had better research my suggestions before under-taking them, but here goes. Health and weight are predominantly determined by what you eat and drink. And how often.
I used to be a PhD student (nothing health or science related, so really I have no qualifications except for a keen observational sense and an uncanny ability to follow counter-intuitive arguments … ), and as I began writing my dissertation (I’m ABD, by the way, which means “All But Dissertation”), the graduate school joke, “If you get stuck writing, stop and read another book. Repeat as necessary,” became my mantra.
Don’t get stuck just reading books and blogs like this one — don’t be like me with my dissertation; you won’t get anywhere.
Anyhow, and I feel secure enough to dispense this advice without a disclaimer, the first thing to do if you want to lose weight is stop drinking soda and fruit juice. No diet soda, no apple juice, no beer, no wine, no whiskey. None of that stuff. Water has always served to slake thirst, so why mess with a good thing?
Ok. So what can you drink? Unsweetened black coffee. Tea, no sugar, no milk. Water.
Once you have eliminated (or while you are eliminating … ) this source of empty calories from your food repertoire (not only are the calories empty, but they may actually suck nutrients from your body, making you sicker and hungrier … ), read a book. I would suggest “The Obesity Epidemic” by Zoe Harcombe. Her hypothesis that if what you eat does not supply the nutrition you need, you will simply eat more, is sound and explains a lot. The children in “Bite Size” are not gluttons; my dad and I didn’t have uncontrollable appetites because we are Italian. We were malnourished, and our bodies were screaming hunger for those nutrients that the food we ate simply did not supply. Address our nutritional problems and the incessant hunger starts to dissipate. Eliminating sugar and alcohol is the first step to improving nutrition.
Sugar is pretty bad, but for something really enlightening, look up the relationship between alcoholism and thiamine deficiency.
Another interesting thing you might want to look up is how some gut microbiota (read yeast) metabolize (read ferment) the sugar you ingest — you eat sugar, the yeast in your gut ferments it and produces alcohol that goes into your bloodstream.
Children can be get intoxicated on Halloween from their candy haul.
If this is not a good enough reason stop eating the sweet stuff, I don’t know what is.
You can drink water. That’s a good start. I know how tough it is to stop drinking soda — I used to drink three or four cans of Coke a day in the early eighties, until they replaced it with “New Coke”. That stuff was too sweet; you might as well have been drinking Pepsi. I switched over to RC, and sometimes Dr. Pepper. When they re-introduced “Classic Coke”, I think I was down to about a can a day. Through the nineties, I think I cut down to maybe two cans a week, especially after I got married, because my wife would always get the Diet Coke, and I never cared for the taste of artificial sweeteners — they taste too much like some chemical from a lab.
I pretty much stopped drinking soda altogether when I was on the South Beach diet for about six months in 2004. That’s when I also stopped putting sugar in my coffee. I tried replacing the sugar with Equal, saccharine, and Splenda but they all tasted funny. Plain coffee tastes better without that crap. And, if the barista knows what they’re doing, espresso tastes wonderful without sugar.
Unfortunately, most places in the U.S. make their espresso either too bitter or too sour. They have a hard time achieving that fine line of coffee nirvana.
Anyhow, I’ve been fighting to remove sugar from my diet for over thirty years now — don’t be like me. Start early and be vigilant; life is sweet enough to not require added sweeteners.
Now, I am going to fly in the face of what everyone tells you to eat. And, at this point, you should probably read my disclaimer and consider the source — I am NOT a nutritionist, dietitian or medical doctor. What has really worked for me has been to stop eating any food derived from grains. This was tough, because I love pasta and bread. Whether it’s whole grain or not, though, it’s got to go. And while we’re at it, get rid of fruit.
Wait a second, what? Yes, fruit. But, everyone tells us to eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. What I said earlier about conventional wisdom that doesn’t work still applies ….
For me, fruit is tough: first, it was tough to stop eating fruit; and second, I don’t think fruit affects me the way it affects normal people. How many apples can a normal person eat before they stop and say they’re full? One? Two? If they’re good apples, I can easily eat four. And I’ve always been this way. When I was eighteen, I bought a kilo of fresh figs and ate them all in the space of an hour. In late July and August, I would buy five pounds of peaches at farmer’s markets and snarf them down in two days.
Don’t get me started on bananas …
I’ve got a fruit problem, and it’s better that I just avoid fruit. And if you’re still hungry after eating a good serving of fruit, you may be in the same boat as me.
Try going a month without soda, sweeteners (natural and artificial), grain-based food and fruit. See how you feel. What this will accomplish is to normalize your blood glucose so you don’t suffer from a roller-coaster ride of spikes and valleys that leave you constantly tired and hungry. And you will stop causing your body to produce so much insulin that it cannot access any of its stores of fat for energy.
And I think, that allows to start with a clean slate from which to figure out what foods are healthy for you to eat.