A. Continue Eating What I Like, Ignoring Good Nutrition
Social gatherings that include culturally defined food choices are a part of life for all people. Sharing food is how love is shown in good times, bad times, weddings, funerals, and holidays. But culturally defined food choices are not always the healthiest.
A healthy diet is very important if you ever hope to break the Vicious Cycle. It's essential to avoiding obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight puts too much pressure on your joints and keeps you locked in the Vicious Cycle. Good nutrition puts the focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Let's learn more about obesity.
Cause stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in joints. It can affect the knees and hips because extra weight stresses the joints. Being only 10 lbs. overweight increases the force on each knee with each step by 30-60 lbs.
Cause heart disease. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, happens more often in overweight people. Coronary artery disease is also more common in overweight people because fatty deposits build up in arteries that supply the heart. Narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain (called angina) or a heart attack. Blood clots can also form in narrowed arteries and cause a stroke.
Increase blood sugar levels (type 2 diabetes). Being overweight can make your body resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. When obesity causes insulin resistance, your blood sugar level rises. Even moderate obesity dramatically increases the risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
We measure obesity with a system known as body mass index, or BMI.
Increase risk of depression. The unsuccessful battle of trying to lose weight can cause depression. The inability to move as quickly as you once could and the isolation that often comes with the inability to move can also lead to depression. So can having a poor body image.
Increase cancer risk. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a variety of cancers. These include cancers of the colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, and pancreas.
Serve portions that are only the size of your fist. To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat—which means portion control. Take the time to fully enjoy your food, but eat less of it.
Learn how to read food labels. The information on a food label is based on one serving of that food. The most common mistake people make when reading food labels is thinking that they are eating one serving when they might be eating more. Understanding food labels can help you make the right food choices when you are trying to lose weight.
Never eat from a box or a bag. Think of this as good for you from two perspectives—portion control and getting rid of too much salt and sugar (from processed foods, which come in boxes and bags). If you really want to snack, look on the box or bag for a serving size and divide the snack into that many servings—in sandwich-sized baggies. Eat only one serving. You'll be surprised at the difference you can make with this simple trick.
Drink 5-10 glasses of water each day. Drinking water (a big glass) before you eat will fill your belly and naturally help you eat less. Some symptoms of dehydration (losing more fluid than you take in) can actually feel like hunger, so sipping water all day may weaken your feelings of hunger, too.
Include vegetables and fruits at each meal. Adding fruits and veggies to each meal is another easy way to cut calories while filling you up fast. You can even swap in mushrooms for half the ground meat in most recipes.
Understanding your emotional connection with food is important. Perhaps you can list the food cravings connected to fond memories and emotions. Understanding the cravings you have for your favorite "comfort foods" is the first step in overcoming their impact on your food choices. Begin thinking about how you might replace them with healthier choices or versions.
Meals that you eat at your church or with your family may include foods that have an impact on your weight. While you may love "soul food," it is not always known for its nutritional value. That is because various meats and processed foods have been added to the original recipes of your ancestors. You may be able to influence your family and loved ones to go back to your great-grandmother's healthier soul food.
Try these substitutions:
- Smoked turkey for pork in your collard greens.
- Healthier oils like olive or canola.
- Agave or maple syrup instead of sugar to your candied yams.
Your standards of beauty when it comes to weight may be much different from those of other cultural groups. Your ideal body image may be bigger and include a more curvy shape, making your calculated BMI seem inaccurate for you. To achieve good health, start by making healthier food choices and moving more. Do that and shedding a few pounds will likely be a natural added bonus. You'll feel better, without sacrificing your beautiful curves.
Latinos rank last in medical insurance coverage. This means they don't visit the doctor as often as the general population and thus miss out on frequent checkups and advice about weight issues.
You may have never viewed yourself as heavy or overweight. You may not even understand how a change in your lifestyle, the lack of time, and the fast food culture here in the U.S. have affected your stress level, increased body size, and weight gain. In fact, gaining weight, joint pain, and diabetes may never have been an issue for you until you adopted the U.S. lifestyle. You may have substituted hamburgers, hot dogs, or fried foods for your more wholesome cultural choices that were grown in your garden or purchased at markets and cooked at home.
Among all women in the U.S., Hispanics/Latinas rank second—right behind African Americans—in obesity. Despite the fact that some of the Hispanic/Latina diet is healthy, culture and genetics may affect you as you adopt the fast food lifestyle here in the U.S. Think back to the time when you felt better, were smaller in size, walked more, and led a more active lifestyle. Make small changes to reduce your weight and feel better by:
- Cooking your meals at home and slowing down.
- Eating with your family.
- Eating more vegetables and fruits.
- Considering smaller portion sizes.
Small changes can make a big difference. Take time to slow down. Valuing yourself and learning what you need to do to get back to a healthier weight and size should be an important goal for all.
You're on your way to solving the puzzle and breaking the cycle. Now you know the importance of avoiding obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. If you would like to go back and follow choice B, please click here. If you are ready to move forward, Let's take a look at the next piece of the puzzle by clicking on Increased Pressure on Knee Joints …