Losing weight is really hard work. Especially doing it right, meaning you become actually healthier while you do it, and then you turn your success into maintaining a healthy weight lifelong. Ideally you will grab the challenge and run with it; you’ll have a great time, continuously rewarded by the fantastic fulfillment of overcoming difficulty and meeting your goal.
Some of us can get excited by the idea, gather up the tools we need and then get it done, joyfully. Many of us never start; it seems overwhelming. It means change. Food, the way we think of it, even what we think it is, is so central to our lives that even when we know that the way we are using food is hurting us, change sometimes seems impossible.
I have heard from many women that they feel they can’t change how they eat because they can’t change how their families eat. They experience a weight loss diet as something separate from ‘real life’ and what their families will happily eat as somehow regular, normal, healthy, and not subject to a need for change.
Unfortunately, with 65% of Americans overweight, and 30 % of kids! many of these women have husbands whose diets are not healthy; even worse, their children are becoming obese. Childhood obesity has become a nightmare epidemic. One of the saddest, most difficult things we have to face is that we are the ones who are in charge of feeding our children.
This fact is where the hope and the solution lives as well. We are in charge of what what we eat, and what our children eat. The most important health benefits to weight loss become active in your system when you have lost just 10% of your body weight. Meaning a person who is over weight at 200 pounds does not have to lose down to 150 pounds before many things are much better. Getting to 180 pounds will mean a tremendous benefit.
So, if you are part of a family, and EVERYone is kind of chubby, you do not all have to go on the grapefruit diet! Just start with the blazingly obvious. Get rid of most sugar. That means soda pop, juice, cookies and cake and ice cream. Save these things to make birthdays special. Ditch the sugary cereals; eat whole grain cereals, whole grain toast with nut butters and pancakes with fresh fruit and yogurt, or scrambled eggs and vegetables instead. Stop eating refined flour products- flour whether made from wheat or corn, whether it has been made into bread, crackers or pasta, will turn into sugar in your mouth, and in your stomach. In terms of your health refined flour products are no better for you than sugar.
If you were going to take only one word (ok, it’s four words) out of your family’s diet for everyone’s good, make it high fructose corn syrup. A sweetener manufactured from corn starch, invented in the 1980’s, this easy-to-manipulate chemical is a serious threat to your family’s health. It turns out that the human body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar. It changes the way the hormones that run your metabolism function. You can’t recognize the signals from your brain that you have eaten enough and should stop. It also forces your liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.
The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat. Eliminate products with high fructose corn syrup from your family’s diet and everyone will benefit tremendously.
LEARN TO COOK! TEACH YOUR CHILDREN! Borrow cook books from the library or even better, ask your elders for family recipes. EAT TOGETHER, at the same time, at the table. Talk to each other. Spend your money on good food instead of restaurants and fast food– and at the doctors’ office! Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Eat lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Drink water, teas, a little coffee if you want and a glass of wine a day is good it you can keep it to just one. Dark chocolate is a serious treat.
Make changes one at a time and MAKE CHANGES TOGETHER, as a family. There is no greater responsibility we have than to safeguard our children. And there is no better teacher, no better protector, than our own healthy habits as their powerful example of how to live well.