4 Questions You Should Ask Yourself
In the United Kingdom, January 14th through the 20th is National Obesity Awareness Week. It is an effort to improve the nation’s health and encourage good habits, such as cooking more healthily, avoiding snacks, and being more active. In the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere in world, obesity is a concern. Since 1980, obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and tripled in children.
At Saladmaster, we have been committed to home cooking and healthier living for a long, long time. It is part of our mission to help people achieve the life they desire. We take obesity and related issues very seriously, and we understand how these health matters can devastate a person’s quality of life.
Some doctors and nutritionists differ on the particulars of how obesity is defined and treated. But this should not dishearten people who are struggling with weight gain. Obesity can be overcome. In recent years, there has been a lot of careful research into what works and what doesn’t.
1. How do I know if I’m obese?
Obesity is defined as a medical condition where excess body fat causes adverse effects on health. There are two variables here: How much fat would be considered excessive? And how severe are the effects, if any, that someone might experience?
For instance, women and men store fat differently. Women tend to carry more fat on their lower bodies, but they also tend to carry it in a healthier, more easily managed way than men. Men are more likely to store fat in the upper body, especially the stomach—and men store more “visceral fat” that coats internal organs. All this means that an overweight man may be at far greater risk than an overweight woman. Even though, both are at some risk.
Using a Body Mass Indictor (BMI) is a first step to getting a rough estimate on whether or not you are obese. BMI measures your weight relative to your height, producing a number that falls within a range. If the number is too high, you might be obese.
However, BMI doesn’t tell the whole story. BMI can’t tell if your weight is due to fat or muscle. Certain athlete might have a high BMI, even though they are perfectly healthy. As mentioned above, where the fat is located can also determine is you are prone to averse effects. (Extra fat around your stomach is unhealthy, no matter what your BMI is.) Regardless of your BMI, you should consult with your doctor.
2. How is obesity caused?
Several factors are at play, when it comes to obesity. Not everyone will agree on how significant some of these factors are, but each one has a role to play.
Poor foods, not well prepared. Since the 1980s, we’ve been consuming more processed, high-sugar and high-fat foods. A lot of research and a lot books have been written on this subject. But ultimately, we’re not eating what we should be eating.
Inactivity. We’re not exercising, getting out and moving around like we should. Many people are working jobs that require long hours sitting at a chair. It’s not a good situation.
Emotional health. Depression and anxiety (among other things) can lead to poor choices, which can lead to unhealthy outcomes. It can be difficult to change our eating habits, if we aren’t in a good place emotionally. It’s easy for people to identify the high-sugar sodas as a problem, much harder sometimes to recognize what’s going on emotions.
Genetics. Obesity does run in families. Beyond the genes, some may point to the simple fact that you develop your own good and bad eating habits from your family.
3. What are some of the dangers of obesity?
Obesity complicates other health issues—such as osteoarthritis, back pain, asthma, and sleep apnea—and increases disease rates. It places extra stress on your bones, joints, and organs. Everything is working harder than it should. On the milder side, obesity raises blood pressure and cholesterol. More severe, it can cause heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes. Obesity has been linked to several types of cancer.
Even if you don’t experience these issues, obesity can make it harder to be active, and then compound further unhealthy weight gain.
4. How do I fight obesity?
It can be tempting to try everything at once, to make a commitment without a clear strategy in place. If you fear that you may be obese, you certainly do not want to ignore the problem—but trying too much, too soon might also increase the likelihood of failing to follow through, no matter how strong your resolve. Fact is it’s much easier to prevent obesity than to treat it. We recommend starting with these small, simple steps.
Talk to your doctor. You do not need to face obesity alone. Your doctor will know your medical history and be able to recommend the best course for you. If you’re curious about more extreme measures, such as surgery, your doctor will be able to effectively advise you.
Start a food diary. Buy a small notepad or download a food diary app to track what you’re eating. Regardless of what your health goals are, it will be difficult to maintain them, if you are being mindful about what you’re eating.
Find a health guru. A lot of people are getting into the guru business (“guru” meaning an influential teacher or popular expert). These are generally encouraging people who are committed to health and wellness. They may have a podcast, a blog, a TV show, or post on social media. They may have written books. Not all gurus are created equal, but it’s helpful to have someone you trust, someone who can be an inspiration. For example, Marni Wasserman is a nutritionist, chef, and co-host of The Ultimate Health Podcast. We like her positive approach and simple strategies.
Find something active that you enjoy doing. For the uninitiated, a lot of exercise just isn’t fun. Is it any wonder people give up? We’d recommend starting with something you enjoy. Maybe it’s a riding your bike, walking around the neighborhood, or playing shooting hoops at the local rec center, maybe you’d enjoy kickball with friends? You can eventually work up to more rigorous exercise.
Cook at home. You might want to begin at the Diabetes Food Hub. The site has numerous healthy recipes, all free and available to you. Start with something simple. Keep the prep time low with few ingredients. The more you cook at home, the easier it will be.
Fighting obesity means life-long changes, but the benefits will make it more than worth it.