Making A Difference
Earlier in the week I was caught on the hop as I hadn’t brought my lunch with me, so I popped into a newsagent thinking I could just grab something – but everything was pretty much junk or high calorie food! There was plenty of hot food like sausage rolls and other high fat foods, and then of course lovely sugary doughnuts and sweet pastries, crisps and chocolate galore. The sandwich selection was pretty poor, and pretty much all contained butter and cheese which meant more fat and higher calories than there needed to be for a little old sandwich! The only healthy option was a rather bruised banana and some slightly battered and not so appetising apples – it didn’t really entice me to choose the healthier option! Shouldn’t these shops be really making a difference?
It did get me thinking about today’s blog though and what effect society has on our weight.
What contributes to our over-eating?
The food industry creates foods that hijack our brains. They have fat, sugar and salt, which are highly stimulating. They condition us so that even the sights and smells associated with them activate our brain in ways that make us want food. In controlled individuals the brain activity stops when they start ingesting the food, but in some people it doesn’t shut off when the food is gone. As someone who has struggled with weight I ate when I wasn’t hungry, I made the wrong choices and my weight paid for all these mistakes. It took me a long time for everything to “click”.
So how can we break this cycle?
Changing how people look at food is essential. Look at the public-health success with cigarettes, the smoking ban, the public health warnings and the price increases. They didn’t change the product. But they changed how people perceive it. Now people look at cigarettes in a different light, and it has changed from being a sociable habit to one where the smoker is more in the minority and having to brave the cold weather for a cigarette…it has become harder to be a smoker. Tobacco is easier because you CAN live without it, but you can’t live without food. So you have to cool down the stimulus. You have to retrain yourself to respond to food differently. This is not something that is achieved over night, but with making small changes to your current lifestyle, change can occur.
How can society make a difference?
Already some restaurants and cafés are listing the calorie counts of all foods they serve. Others have all their nutritional information on their websites so if your were thinking of making a visit you should check the food calories and make your choices before you get there to prevent haste decisions and ordering something that would knock your recommended calorie allowance through the roof!
Make sure you check food labels before buying products – by law all food been sold has to have food labels describing the nutritional content. Accurate and useful labeling on food products is essential if we are to make informed and healthy choices. The only thing you need to be careful of when it comes to food labels are claims for which no legal definition exists such as – “natural”, “local” or “artisan”, and some – “freshly squeezed” or “handmade” for example – are less than meaningful. Currently the majority of labels show the sodium level but this will in time be changed to show more salt content rather than sodium. ***Updated 12th Oct: Under new rules released today, the advertising of food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) will not be permitted during children’s programmes. Click here to read more about this and more in this news article from Journal.ie
People also need to hear repeatedly that selling, serving and eating food layered and loaded with sugar, fat and salt has unhealthy consequences. We heard for so long that cigarettes are bad and what it does to us so maybe we need to hear the same about certain food!
For most people trying to lose weight – especially those who fall into the clinically obese category – dieting is just one aspect of a radically life-changing process. Being over-weight is usually suggestive of an underlying psychological issue and therefore to be successful in dieting, most people need to confront and re-evaluate a number of ingrained feelings and beliefs about themselves.
Before I had started using the food diary I had tried different weight loss products, soup diets etc. but after spending so much time and money on fad diets I began to think of WHY I was eating at the wrong times, the wrong food and just making wrong choices!! I had to admit certain things to myself; I had associated weight loss with feelings of frustration, guilt, failure, loss of control, loneliness, laziness and inadequacy. I had to spend time preparing myself mentally and emotionally before I embarked on what I’d hope would signal a new phase in my life. I recognised that my journey was probably going to be a long one and was likely to involve regaining and retaining control over my eating habits, achieving a balance between self and peer perception. It required being honest in everything I did and challenging my established behaviour.
It’s no surprise that committing to any weight loss programme is hugely demanding for anyone and with this in mind, Why Weight Ireland mirrors its customers’ dedication. Emphasising, understanding and supporting people throughout the process is key to successful weight loss. The combination of the food diary, personal fitness plan and personal support has shown to be a winning formula for us and for our members.
Before starting any weight loss journey try to follow these tips:
- Only start when you are ready – Sit down and think about what you are going to do. Are you mentally ready or do you think you will give up in a week?
- Be realistic on how long your weight loss is going to take – For example: If you have 4 stone to lose, don’t expect to lose it all in a few weeks.
- Tell someone what you are doing – Losing weight isn’t easy, if it was everyone would be a size 8. You will need the support of your partner, family or friends or even try and get someone to do it with you.
- Get rid of the rubbish – ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. If you have tempting food in your house then do your self a favour and lock it up, or get rid of it. Remember, if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it!
- Give it a shot – Don’t set a goal that is unachievable or unrealistic and don’t stop just because you had a good couple of weeks or a bad couple of weeks. Keep going – give yourself every chance to succeed.