One of the biggest ironies of life is that fat people desire to be thin, and skinny folks want to put on weight. Unless you are seriously underweight, you would do well to stay skinny. Yes, there is a grandmothers’ tale that you need to have some fat to burn off in case of any serious illness. While there is an element of truth in this; it is the risk of having too much of it which can jeopardize your health, and the quality of your life.
A global epidemic: What is alarming is that obesity is becoming observable at far younger ages than even two decades ago. In fact, obesity has spread so far and wide, and across all ages that clinicians are regarding it as a global epidemic.
There are various degrees of being overweight, or plain fat. Severely overweight is obese. Identify when you went from being comfortably rotund to fat to obese. In childhood, family elders disapprove of a child being thin, and think a measure of puppy fat is needed to wear off during the growth spurts when a child gains in height. Those who don’t shed that puppy fat, gradually become obese.
BMI: Typically, obesity is diagnosed by body mass index (BMI) which is calculated by dividing the body weight by the square of the height of a person. For example, a young man aged 20, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 85 kgs. The BMI would be 26.2, making him overweight. However, parameters like waist size, and hip size also impact calculations. Remember, girls and women would necessarily have a higher fat ratio in their bodies. Some people have heavier bones.
Obesity in babies is closely linked to newborns being bottle fed. A baby who is breast fed till six months, or longer, has lower chances of developing obesity. Lifestyle factors increase probability of obesity. Children become obese is due to lack of natural exercises like walking, running, and field games. These days a child is likelier to be playing on an electronic device, than with a ball, frisbee, or a racket. General insecurity make parents chary about letting their child out of sight. So, they prefer to let a child play video games rather than go out on the street riding a bicycle, play team games on a playground, or run around in a park. The trick is to make children physically active — hectic activity which makes them burn up calories and fat.
With most people above the poverty level, the real issue is lack of physical activity. Office goers, people running businesses however small, those who play the stock market, and folks who conduct their work online, even home makers except mothers of very small children, don’t get enough physical activity as most of their work is done sitting or standing in the same place. However, they must eat a certain quantity of food to ensure proper nutrition. All the food that doesn’t get used up in the brain’s activity gets stored as adipose tissue — unromantic fat. It can adversely affect sexual life, and socializing. This in turn creates psychological issues like poor self-image, and lack of confidence.
Become active: You must become active. Walk when possible like avoid taking a car or two wheeler to the local store; dance if you want to; try spot jogging; go for an evening or morning walk; join yoga classes; take up some sport like badminton or tennis; or join some aerobics class to ward off obesity.
There are many people whose genetic strains incline them to being overweight. These people need to be ultra-cautious about their food habits, and their activity schedules. Those who suffer from hypothyroidism gain weight fast as their metabolism rate is slowed down abnormally. They must be treated by a proper endocrinologist. People reach for their favorite comfort food — usually things like chocolates, fries, and ice creams — when they are tense or depressed. Unfortunately, it is all so fattening. Yet, you must control your weight if you don’t want to be hit by cardiac issues, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, or even cancer. Obesity aggravates arthritis making it a challenge for you to carry out even activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing and combing your hair, forget about dancing at festivities.
There is absolutely no reason why your daily diet should be boring or unappetizing when you are trying to lose or maintain weight. Fruits and vegetable add that dash of color which makes the food enticing. Don’t depend on eggs, fish, meat, and paneer to give you your daily protein requirements. Soy, tofu, yoghurt, nuts like groundnuts, almonds, and cashew, oats, various kinds of lentils (dals), including chick peas (kabuli chana), Bengal gram (kala chana), and legumes like kidney beans (lobia), and rajma are very rich sources of protein. Think of all the interesting, delicious, and visually appealing foods that can be made from such ingredients.
A good way of cutting down on carbohydrates and fats when eating your major meals would be to dress fresh salads with lemon juice, pepper, ginger juliennes, green chilies, and salt, rather than using any oils. For protein use grated cheese, soaked and blanched almonds and walnuts, sprouts, even soaked kidney beans. Throw in pieces of fresh fruit like apples, oranges, pomegranate seeds, bananas, pineapples, papaya, or melons with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and greens like lettuce, fresh well washed spinach, cabbage, lightly steamed broccoli, and beetroots. It will fill your stomach, provide you all the nourishment your body requires, and gives your body plenty to crunch allowing you more time before you feel hungry again. Raitas have a curd base ensuring you have a protein to balance all the delightful vegetables and fruits in them.
Avoid like poison: Heavy oils, especially animal fats like lard, sugary cold drinks, various kinds of sweetmeats, cream laden cakes and pastries, fast foods like pizzas and burgers should all be avoided like poison, if you intend to fight obesity.
Overeating can be controlled by adding fibers, but you must also exercise portion control. Keep a food journal. Make a note of the times you eat, and what you ate everytime you eat, even if it is a few biscuits. Keep a record of your weight taken on the same date of the month every month. Check with your doctor whether any of your medications could be causing weight gain, and whether it is possible to find a replacement medicine which doesn’t increase your weight.