How Do You Tell If You’re Too Fat?

The Western World’s obsession with obesity and how to ‘fix it’ continues with, seemingly, very few positive results but how do we know if the statistics which tell us that pretty much everyone will be too fat in 50 years time are accurate? So, how do you know if you’re obese?

The Western World’s obsession with obesity and how to ‘fix it’ continues with, seemingly, very few positive results but how do we know if the statistics which tell us that pretty much everyone will be too fat in 50 years time are accurate? So, how do you know if you’re obese? The standard test is BMI (Body Mass Index) which involves dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared to deliver a number which we then view on a scale with ‘healthy’ being between 18 and 25. However, this doesn’t really take muscle mass into account; body builders for instance could easily find themselves shoved into the overweight category despite having very little body fat so how can you tell??

Forget the science for a moment, as there are loads of complicated ways to calculate your ideal weight, and think about how you feel. Our bodies, if we listen to them, are surprisingly helpful in telling us when there’s something wrong:

  1. Do you feel a heaviness in your body when you move?
  2. Do you feel that your legs easily support you or do you find that you often have aches and pains, especially after exercise
  3. Do you notice your breathing when you’re walking? Do you find that it becomes laboured after a walk of more than 10 minutes?
  4. When you sit down, can you feel your stomach resting on your thighs?
  5. Do you find that the skin on your inner thighs becomes chaffed and uncomfortable when you wear shorts in the summer?
  6. Do you find that the area underneath your breasts (men and women) becomes sweaty and itchy when you’re too warm?
  7. Does the skin under your arms become chaffed and uncomfortable after exercise or in warm weather
  8. Do you find that you often have pain in your knees and/or lower back?
  9. Do you find that you feel very tired even after a small amount of exercise?
  10. Do you eat even when your body is telling you that you are not hungry?

As well as ‘listening’ to our bodies, we should also be looking at them – really looking; not with any preconceived ideas or prejudices. You have known your own body your whole life and you know if what you see looks ‘right’ to you.

There are certain areas of our bodies which are more prone to carry excess fat than others and one of those is the tummy area. It’s widely accepted that it’s dangerous for our health to have too much belly fat but how much is too much? Well, have a look at these two pictures:

Both women are around a UK size 14/16 and would be considered ‘plus size’. However, the lady on the left is beautifully in proportion and obviously takes care of her body as it looks toned and healthy, while the one on the right is carrying all her excess fat around her mid-section which would indicate that she doesn’t have a healthy diet or lifestyle. Their BMI’s would probably be very similar but only one looks ‘fat’ and it’s likely that only one will be at risks of the health problems associated with obesity.

These two images illustrate the same thing but probably even more clearly:

These women both have pretty big arms but one has developed muscle through hours and hours of workouts, the other has stored an excess of fat in her upper arm area. As the woman on the left is so muscular it’s possible that her BMI would be similar to the young lady on the right despite them having very different body shapes.

Heavy Fit

You can have a higher BMI and still be fit and healthy (see stunning lady to your left) BUT only if you are carrying excess muscle and not excess fat. A truly good indicator is how much of you wobbles when you jump up and down – if it’s your arms, bum, stomach and thighs then, chances are, you have too much fat on your body. I know it sounds simple but would you prefer that or trying to work out your weight in pounds, height in inches squared and percentage body fat???

At the end of the day, you know your body far better than any man in a white coat……..unless you’re married to a doctor of course ;o)

Lisa

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Be honest. Is it just me?

I can’t help but wonder if the people that put out these ‘quick and easy’ weight loss plans actually think about the people they are supposedly trying to help; if something is so ‘quick and easy’ how does it make the people feel who don’t shrink down to a size 10 in a couple of months? Like failures I would imagine – how is that helping?

Warning: this post contains profanities because the article that prompted it pissed me off (opps, sorry!)

Is it just me or does it seem as though there’s new ‘weight loss’ advice published every single bloody day? If you’re struggling to lose weight do you find that you’re running around like a headless chicken trying to keep track of what everyone is telling you? Does it make you feel as though, whatever you try, you never get it quite right? I can’t help but wonder if the people that put out these ‘quick and easy’ weight loss plans actually think about the people they are supposedly trying to help; if something is so ‘quick and easy’ how does it make the people feel who don’t shrink down to a size 10 in a couple of months? Like failures I would imagine – how is that helping?Diet frustration

The latest ‘gem’ to be published follows on from yet another study on the best way to tackle obesity. We’ve had – low fat, low carbs, Mediterranean diets, keto diets, the Atkins diet, the raw food diet etc etc bloody etc – the list just goes on and endlessly on…but now, we’ve come full circle and gone back to the ‘crash’ diet which was all the rage when I was young!

So what is a crash diet?

Tiny foodBasically you eat bugger all. Oh sorry, were you waiting for a more detailed explanation or something sciency? Can’t help there I’m afraid, the ‘plan’ really is that simple – you cut your calorie intake down to 800 a day and…..well that’s it. If you want an idea of what you could eat on 800 calories a day have a look: https://www.eatthismuch.com/diet-plan/800-calorie/ – trust me, it’s not a lot!

Mind you, you won’t have to worry too much about meal planning as they are all ‘replaced’ with shakes, soups and nutrition bars which are all designed to make you feel full. Apparently a former Government ‘obesity Tsar’ (God give me strength!) said:

‘By referring people to this programme, they lose 7kg more than they would have lost under what we usually offer them. [The advice to cut calories and eat more healthily] It’s phenomenal – extraordinary – and like nothing we’ve seen in primary care before.’

Its-not-rocket-9lkofsNo it isn’t!!!! It’s not fucking extraordinary at all – it’s simple bloody logic!!! And you have seen it before – meal replacement diets have been around for donkeys years! I do apologise for that small outburst but this kind of mindless nonsense really gets on my pip!

If you eat 4000 calories a day and you change your habits so you eat 3000 a day, you will lose weight

If you usually eat 4000 calories a day and you then eat 2000 you will lose more weight

If the norm for you is 4000 calories a day and you just eat meal supplements which give you 800 calories a day you will lose shit loads of weight – absolutely no question at all…..

The problem is (and this is always the problem), if you lose all this weight and then go back to the 4000 calories a day, you will put the weight back on again. According to this particular report, apparently that doesn’t really matter as you will have seen health benefits in the ‘short-term’. So you had type 2 diabetes….you lost the weight and then you didn’t…..you put the weight back on and the type 2 diabetes comes back…..and you’re back where you started!

This plan, which costs around £700, has been proposed to the NHS to help with the obesity crisis. I have a much simpler and considerably cheaper solution – just print this, in great big red letters, on a piece of A4 paper, hand it to people who want to lose weight and then leave it up to them:

HAVE A LONG HARD THINK ABOUT WHY OVER EAT AND ADDRESS THAT PROBLEM THEN MEMORISE THIS:

CALORIES PUT ON WEIGHT. THE MORE CALORIES YOU INGEST THE MORE WEIGHT YOU WILL GAIN.

EAT LESS CALORIES AND BURN SOME OFF THROUGH EXERCISE AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT

EAT NATURAL HEALTHY FOOD AND NOT JUNK FOOD AND PROCESSED CRAP AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT

WHEN YOU ARE AT YOUR DESIRED WEIGHT – DO NOT REVERT TO OLD HABITS AND YOU WILL NOT GAIN WEIGHT

What do you reckon? Think it will catch on?

I’m really sorry if any of this sounds harsh but I am really sick and tired of all these ‘diets’ that promise miracle results to, sometimes, desperate people. There is no quick and easy solution, losing weight is a case of balancing what you eat and what you do; the only effective way to shed those pounds and keep them off is to change your eating and exercise patterns – not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life………….

Lisa x

 

 

How Generous Are You?

Do you think that you’re a generous person? For example, if someone had a life threatening condition would you dip your hand in your pocket to help them out? Would you cough up, say, £50 a week to give them a chance at a happier and healthier existence?

Do you think that you’re a generous person? For example, if someone had a life threatening condition would you dip your hand in your pocket to help them out? Would you cough up, say, £50 a week to give them a chance at a happier and healthier existence?

The latest proposal to help curb obesity is for YOU (the taxpayer) to pay for weight loss classes and/or meal replacement diets for those who are dangerously overweight; how do you feel about that? Apparently weight loss programmes and/or meal replacement diets are cheaper for the NHS to fund than stomach stapling and are definitely the safer and, arguably, healthier option for the patient but is it something that the taxpayer should be coughing up for?

You can say that obesity is self-inflicted and that any health problems result from personal food choices so why should you have to pay for someone else’s bad decisions? The problem with that is that, although obesity related health problems are a strain on the NHS, so are smoking related health problems, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, health issues caused by stress and illnesses that result from genetics or for no other reason than it’s just luck of the draw. At some point we will all need the services of doctors and nurses and, in the UK, it’s the tax payer that will foot the bill for our treatment.

What would happen if that were not the case for people who were morbidly obese? Some would argue that making life more expensive for those who are overweight with a ‘sugar tax’ or a ‘fat tax’ (higher prices for larger sized clothes) or the withdrawal of free treatment would improve their condition. Has that worked for smokers, drug addicts or alcoholics? No, so why would it work for any other kind of addict?

If the NHS wants to reduce their costs that are attributable to obesity perhaps they should consider dealing with the cause rather than the symptoms – instead of putting together programmes that recommend different foods or smaller portions, wouldn’t it be better to look at WHY people are over eating in the first place? Many of the problems with the body originate in the mind so why not start there when we’re looking for answers?

My feeling is that by concentrating on the emotional reasons for over eating as well as the addictive element, long term solutions to obesity could be found rather than people suffering the effects of yo-yo dieting or invasive surgery. Is THAT something that the NHS should be paying for? In my opinion yes but what do you think?

Should the NHS provide treatment for ‘self-inflicted’ illnesses? I’d love to read your comments

Lisa

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Exercise is Good For Kids!

We all learn from experience after all and those we have as children are the ones that will shape us as adults so, yes, the headline is right, exercise is good for children but why oh why do we need a newspaper to point this out?

Who knew!?!! Is it just me or does the media, when reporting on obesity and health issues, do nothing more than point out the bloody obvious? It’s been reported today that children who walk or run a mile a day are healthier than those who sit on their backsides; do we actually live in a world where people really don’t know that exercise is good for their kids? If the answer is yes, then is it any wonder that we have an obesity epidemic?

Kids running on hilltopWhat’s worse is that the headline says “children who are made to walk a mile a day”; when I was a child I needed no encouragement to go roaring about all over the place – getting me to sit still was the problem. Was it the same for you? Didn’t you long to be out in the fresh air playing with your friends? Was being told to sit still and not move the cruelest of punishments?

What’s changed? Is it really the case that children would prefer to live in the virtual world rather than experience real life or is it that the parents are too afraid to let them outside in case something awful befalls them? Is it more simple than that? Is it that  the parents don’t care if their kids are obese because they themselves eat unhealthily and live a sedentary lifestyle? If we have bad habits would we prefer that our children followed our example or do we realise that we make bad choices and would do anything to stop them making the same mistakes? Fat kids computer games

Maybe the answer is not to make kids exercise, but to encourage them? Perhaps we could take the time to explain why exercise is beneficial to their physical and mental well being. If we explained just the positive benefits of eating healthily and encouraged them to chart their personal progress in terms of energy and fitness levels, wouldn’t that be better than telling them – “this is good and this is bad”? We all learn from experience after all and those we have as children are the ones that will shape us as adults so, yes, the headline is right, exercise is good for children but why oh why do we need a newspaper to point this out?

I’ve never had children and I could be way off base here so I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this; if you’ve got a spare 5 minutes, please let me know what you think

Lisa x

 

Yes, We Are All Individuals

So, on the one hand we have groups who campaign against purveyors of junk food and sugary beverages and on the other we have groups who campaign for their right to eat whatever they damn well please. What we don’t seem to have anywhere in the middle are individuals who have received enough nutritional education to make their food choices based on knowledge rather than what one crowd or another is telling them to do

Does anyone remember the wonderfully irreverent film Life of Brian? Specifically the scene where Brian tries to persuade a huge crowd to stop following him by telling them that they don’t need a leader because they are all individuals? The ironic response was ‘Yes! We are all individuals’……in complete unison…….with only one dissenting voice which was immediately shushed by the crowd. It seemed hugely amusing at the time but I do wonder if it has become our reality.

offering candyThere was an article in the news recently in which a healthy eating campaigner criticised a shop for putting huge quantities of chocolate bars close to the checkout complaining that they were ‘cashing in on our sweet tooth’. So, effectively what he is saying is that ‘we’ are incapable of resisting temptation and that the blame for the negative results that arise from an individual’s bad food choices i.e. obesity should rest with a shop?? When did we stop taking responsibility for our own actions? In this instance, what the critic seems to ignore is that no-one is standing by the check out forcing free candy on unwitting shoppers; people make a choice – to buy or not to buy….

The same logic (if you want to call it that) is used by Government when implement ideas like the sugar tax; it’s a blanket response to something which is an individual’s problem. Taxes on tobacco and alcohol haven’t stopped people smoking or drinking because, when you’re dealing with an addiction, the price is pretty much irrelevant. churchill quoteUnfortunately this type of action is also likely to provoke far more negative responses than positive; after all how many people are ever happy when a new tax is introduced? It also means that people will be inclined to band together to stop what they view as oppression by the Government – there is even a Twitter group which has been set up to oppose the sugar tax and says that the ‘it’s not nutritious brigade’ are forcing their choices on the rest of us.

So, on the one hand we have groups who campaign against purveyors of junk food and sugary beverages and on the other we have groups who campaign for their right to eat whatever they damn well please. What we don’t seem to have anywhere in the middle are individuals who have received enough nutritional education to make their food choices based on knowledge rather than what one crowd or another is telling them to do.

BlameWe all have the opportunity to learn about our food choices and what impact they can have on our health; the internet is absolutely awash with information. However, it seems as though people are far more likely to rely on the information provided to them in bite sized pieces by one self-interested group or another than to trust their own decision making. It’s easy to blame the Government or shop-keepers or schools for the current obesity epidemic, it’s far more difficult to take responsibility as individuals but, as the film said, we are all individuals.

The Age of the Quick Fix

For this desperately unhappy woman, cutting out or closing off part of her stomach will not sever the emotional link that she has to food. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if people who are morbidly obese would profit far more from the psychiatrist’s couch than a scalpel

In this technological age we seem to have a quick fix for everything, gadgets and gizmos that ensure that we need to put in as little effort as possible, sadly it’s also the case with weight loss in the form of bariatric surgery. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work for some people, it does, but it’s a physical fix only i.e. it doesn’t deal with any underlying psychological issues which may have caused the weight gain in the first place.

There are several different types of bariatric surgery but they all have the same end result, they make your physical capacity for food smaller. However, they don’t take the mind’s ability to over-ride the body’s capabilities into account which means that some people will just ignore the discomfort of trying to force a quart into a pint pot and they will continue to over-eat despite their shrunken stomach’s protests.

Schenee Murry Hopkins was on a US show called My 600lb Life which charters the weight loss journeys of the super morbidly obese who follow a programme of healthy eating and exercise in preparation for bariatric surgery. She gained weight during the show and subsequently left for which she was heavily criticised. my-600-lb-life-schenee-murry.jpgHowever, what most of her critics didn’t know at the time was that Schenee had made a mental connection with food very early on in her life which, unless broken, wouldn’t allow her to lose weight. She was sexually molested at the age of 5 and turned to food for ‘comfort’, furthermore she was humiliated at school for being over-weight and, at the age of 20, she was raped.

At the age of 5 we are not sufficiently developed to deal with the trauma of sexual abuse but we have to try and find some way to cope with the negative feelings and emotions that we cannot really understand. In this case it may have been that Schenee was given an ice-cream or some candy to ‘comfort’ her after her ordeal. A well-meaning adult who didn’t feel able to physically comfort the small child as she was a victim of physical abuse may have given her something sweet to eat telling her ‘here you are honey, this will make you feel better’. That’s often all it takes to take us on a path of self-destruction.

The mental connection had been made, food = comfort and, as it had been made at such a young age, it stuck. There may have been times when Schenee felt a physical discomfort from over-eating and she certainly suffered at the hands of bullies as she continued to gain weight but, emotionally and mentally, she was utterly reliant on the one ‘positive’ thing that had happened after her abuse. An adult spoke kindly to her but didn’t invade her personal space, which had so recently been violated and gave her something sweet to eat which then triggered the release of serotonin (the ‘feel good‘ chemical). She was perfectly well aware that gaining so much weight was bad for her health and could result in her death before the age of 30 but, in her mind, it must have seemed as though people were trying to take away the only thing that had allowed her to deal with her childhood trauma – food.

The events as described are conjecture on my part but it illustrates how easy it is for a strong mental connection to be made at a very young age that then dictates the choices we make in our adult lives, be they good or bad. For this desperately unhappy woman, cutting out or closing off part of her stomach will not sever the emotional link that she has to food. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if people who are morbidly obese would profit far more from the psychiatrist’s couch than a scalpel; it may take longer to get the desired results but at least they would be permanent. Apparently 1 in 2 patients start to gain weight again two years after surgery, one of the reasons is:

Psychological state following surgery – Increased food urges and decreased feelings of well-being following surgery are directly correlated with weight gain after gastric bypass surgery (7). Food addiction is also a big (and under-reported) reason for gastric bypass weight regain”

Bariatric surgery is a choice that’s offered to people who want someone else to take responsibility for them losing weight but is it really the best way forward? Can’t we offer something better in 2018 than a quick fix?

 

Do You Just Want it or Really Need it?

The thought of either agony or ecstasy are extremely powerful motivators, ‘I’d really like to….” just doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately. 

I came across a really interesting piece in the paper this morning which told of a woman who lost 230lbs in just 14 months and has maintained her weight loss for the last 6 months. She was morbidly obese and her health was suffering but she was inspired to change her lifestyle when she realised she was just too heavy for her scale. She shares her story here:

Basically she reached a tipping point – the psychological pain of the weight that she was carrying far outweighed the pleasure that she got from over eating. In many instances it’s not what we do that will enable us to shed unwanted pounds, it’s how we think and this is a case in point. Noelle reached the conclusion that the negative things in her life that resulted from her obesity, such as not being able to play with her children, were enough motivation for her to turn her life around.

It’s pretty much the pleasure/pain principal; Noelle’s mental and emotional pain was strong enough for her to make a big change in her life. We could also argue that the desire for pleasure i.e. the thought of being able to be physically active with her children was also a big motivator for her. This process is how we make many of the decisions in our lives; a desire  to do something is often not enough, it’s the difference between wanting to do something and needing to do it.

ToothacheFor example, let’s imagine that you really hate going to the dentist, all the while that your teeth are getting more and more yellow and beginning to decay, as long as you feel no pain, you’ll avoid going to the dentist. You want to be able to go because your smile is being ruined and you’ve noticed that the people close to you move away slightly when you breathe on them BUT your fear is sufficient that you’ll still resist going. However, if years of neglect means that you end up with chipped and cracked teeth and a sneaky little bacteria creeps in a gives you an abscess you will start to feel pain. You might put up with it for a few days because you still have that long held fear of dentists but, at some point, the pain will become so bad that it will overcome your fear and you will face your fear.

The physical act of losing weight is not rocket science – you eat less (ingest fewer calories) and you exercise more. You can try any weight loss plan that you like but that is at the root of all of them. What is more difficult is the psychological aspect and that is what stops many people from starting a healthy eating plan or makes them give up half way through. What we really need is something to attach to the thought of losing weight that will either give us a huge amount of pain or a huge amount of pleasure:

  • Obesity is thought to have contributed to more than 4 million deaths worldwide; imagine having to explain to your children that you won’t be with them as they grow up because you heart cannot cope with the stress of carrying around all the extra weight that you’re carrying Morbidly obese woman
  • Imagine the pride and delight on your children’s faces as you stand next to them on their wedding day a picture of health and vitality because, a few years previously, you decided that you wanted to change YOUR life.
  • Imagine, if your one dream is to see the world before you die, that you are prevented from air travel because your body has simply grown too big to fit into the seats on an aeroplance
  • Imagine yourself, free and healthy, enjoying all the sights and sounds of the place that you’ve wanted to visit your entire life, the place you dreamed of visiting as a child.
  • Imagine the utter humiliation of being told, in front of a shop full of people, that the dress you’ve saved up to buy for months and months, just doesn’t come in a size that big
  • Imagine the pleasure you’ll feel when you hand over your hard earned cash for the dress that you’ve so admired that looks absolutely beautiful on you and fits just perfectly. Beautiful dress

All of these are just examples, we are all motivated by different things after all, but, if you do want to lose weight and feel healthier and happier make it something that you really, really need and not just something that you want. The negatives that I’ve given here might seem harsh and even cruel but, if we want to make an enormous change in our lives that’s what we need to do. The thought of either agony or ecstasy are extremely powerful motivators, ‘I’d really like to….” just doesn’t quite cut it unfortunately.

The F Word

When I first left home I was a UK size 8/10 but it seemed that, since living on my own, my clothes had somehow shrunk and I was forced to buy new ones.

When I was in my late teens/early twenties, a woman said 4 words to me that I will never forget; they shocked me to my core and changed my life forever.

The woman was a doctor and the 4 words were: “You are too fat”.

Eggs chips and beansI’d been living away from home for the first time and couldn’t cook so my diet consisted of frozen things that I could heat up in the oven or things that I could fry or heat up in a saucepan. Dinner, for example, was often oven chips, fried eggs and baked beans! I worked long hours in a shop but, fortunately (!) there were  number of shops nearby where I could pick up lunch. Marks and Spencer had launched their range of pre-packed sandwiches and I fell in love with their prawn and mayonnaise offering at first bite. Having realised that I didn’t need to subject myself to my appalling cooking for every meal I looked for places to buy breakfast; not only was I working long hours but I was out almost every night and rarely got home before 2am so I often didn’t wake up until after I’d dressed, showered and walked to work. It was at that point that my descent into fatness began: my search led me to McDonalds and their bacon and egg McMuffins. Bacon and egg McmuffinHad I known then what I know now I would have realised that I was at the start of an addiction that was to last for several months but, at the time, I was lazy, hungry and, invariably, hungover.

At first, it wasn’t too bad; I had a bacon and egg McMuffin for breakfast and a prawn and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch and whatever haphazard combination of frozen/fried foods I could sling together for dinner. However, after a couple of weeks I wasn’t satisfied with one McMuffin and started buying two for my breakfast; I didn’t realise that the sugar in the things was giving me a quick energy spike which left me begging for more when it wore off. Some time after that I found that I was hungrier at lunch time so I progressed to the packets of three sandwiches in Marks and Spencer – one was prawn, one was bacon and egg but the filling in the third has slipped my mind for some reason, perhaps it had something healthy in it.

My evening meals were never going to get any healthier as I was still heating food for myself (by no stretch of the imagination could it be called cooking) but they were, mysteriously getting bigger, I think I added sausages into my repertoire at this point.

Clothes too tightAnyway, you can see a pattern emerging and it didn’t get any better as the months went on. When I first left home I was a UK size 8/10 but it seemed that, since living on my own, my clothes had somehow shrunk and I was forced to buy new ones. I didn’t worry about it too much at the time as clothes shopping has never been a chore for me and, really, what was the difference between a size 10 and a size 12? I convinced myself that the shops were cutting their clothes smaller to save money and that, once they saw sense went back to their usual patterns I would be back in my normal size. Unfortunately this argument didn’t really wash when I found myself buying size 14/16 clothes……..

Eventually, after almost a year away from home I went back to my Mum and her healthy home cooking. I don’t really remember if anyone said anything about the weight that I’d gained, certainly nothing sticks in my mind but maybe they did and I just metaphorically stuck my fingers in my ears and went ‘la, la, la’ in my head. I digress; for the last couple of weeks that I was away and since returning home I’d had quite sever pain in my knees which meant that I really suffered when wearing my trade mark 3 inch stiletto heals. Obviously there was no way I was going to wear flats so I took myself off to the doctor. She listened to my tale of woe, looked me up and down and said those unforgettable 4 words. She also made me stand on a scale which showed that I had put on over 2 stone in less than a year thanks to my bad food choices.

SaladShe put me on a healthy 1,000 calorie a day diet and, after bawling my eyes out for a couple of hours, I stuck to it religiously; I lost weight, exercised more because, miraculously, the pain in my knees improved no end and eventually got back to my old weight. I have never been fat since because I never wanted to hear those words again or feel the pain that went with hearing them.

These days it seems that professionals are far more cautious in their approach to obesity and they speak about ‘weight loss journeys’ and being ‘plus size’ because that is the more sensitive and politically correct approach. Words like that are certainly easier to hear but I wonder, long term, if they are actually kinder. My doctor had no problem using the F word and, for me, by God was it effective!

Since then I don’t think I’ve ever owned a set of scales; if my clothes fit I’m happy and, I don’t know why but I have an almost pathological dislike of clowns ;O)

 

Should Ronald McDonald be Shot?

People are getting fatter and fatter thanks to McDonalds and their counterparts and, quite frankly, it seems as though they really don’t give a s**t so, I’m not going to take it back, that giant plastic clown deserves to be shot!

I realise that this may be an ever so slightly emotive title and I am not advocating that anyone should start shooting giant plastic clowns with nauseatingly cheesy grins and stupidly big feet (yep you’re right I don’t like clowns) but I do think that McDonalds and their ilk should be held to account for their contribution to the current obesity crises in the USA and the UK. They currently have a promotion which actively encourages their customers to buy larger portions of their ‘food’ in the hope of winning prizes. I use the term ‘food’ loosely as I believe that the packaging has slightly more nutritional content than what’s inside it!

mcdonalds buttermilk chickenHowever, in response to public criticism, they have now helpfully added a nutrition calculator to their site which apparently allows their customers to make informed choices. This for example will tell you that a sweet BBQ bacon and buttermilk chicken burger has 830 calories, 39g of fat etc and it will also show you what these are as a percentage of your daily values. So, with this particular burger, the saturated fat content works out as 53% of your daily allowance…….more than half……..in one burger………without fries………or a drink……..or a desert! The only two things it doesn’t give a percentage for are trans fats and sugars which are, without doubt, the two most dangerous things on the list. The sugar content of this one burger is 18g and the daily recommended allowance is 25g; that means that it contains roughly 75% of all the sugar that you should consume in one day – not really caramel sundaysurprising that they didn’t want to add the percentage to this one is it?

If you add a vanilla shake to that, that’s another 59g of sugar which is more than 200% of your daily allowance; not only that but you’ve also just opted to take on board another 490 calories. If you manage to resist the McFlurry and other ice-cream deserts on offer and instead opt for the apple pie you will be consuming another 230 calories and another 12g of sugar. However, if the sugar high that you will be experiencing after eating 3 times your daily recommended amount in one sitting isn’t enough for you, they do offer a hot caramel sundae. It doesn’t look very big but it does contain a whopping 620 calories and another 57g of sugar.

The upshot of all this is that, if you take the burger, shake and a caramel sundae you have pretty much blown your calorie intake for the day as that lot adds up to almost 2,000. Yes, you did read that correctly – almost 2,000 calories in one meal. However, much worse, you will have also worked your way through 134g of sugar!!!

Fresh Fat Chinese Boy Meme mcdonalds make fat kids youtubeSo Mr McDonald has very kindly broken down your fat, carbs, calories and vitamins (!) so that you can include his ‘food’ as part of a balanced, calorie controlled diet but he has carefully neglected to mention that regular intake of his products will make you fat. Yes, I’m sorry but I am going to be that blunt because it’s a fact. Even if you take some of the salad options they’re going to push you over your daily sugar limit in no time at all (yes I did say salad); the Southwest Butter Milk Crispy Chicken Salad has over 500 calories but it also has 9g of sugar which is over 35% of what you should be eating in a day. If you decide to have a ‘fat free’ chocolate milk with your salad (a label which is used to fool people into thinking that they’re eating healthily), you will add another 22g of sugar and that’s you done for the day.

All this begs the question WHY in the name of all that’s holy do people keep going back to McDonalds??? It’s really surprisingly simple – SUGAR is addictive. It’s more addictive than cocaine. People will tell you that McDonalds ‘food’ tastes great but, if they banned it from their diets completely for a week and then went back to it they would realise that it actually doesn’t taste great, just very, very sweet.

Obviously, despite the relatively low cost of their meals this means that McDonalds will continue to make enormous profits. Effectively they have a captive audience; they have created a band of followers that they know will keep coming back to get their ‘fix’ so it’s not in their interests to reduce the sugar content of their offerings. The business model has been so successful in fact that it has been copied many times over and there are now hundreds of fast food chains who tempt people in with ‘healthier’ and ‘low fat’ options in an effort to appease the authorities who are having to find the money to fund the current obesity crisis but until they reduce the sugar content nothing will change. People are getting fatter and fatter thanks to McDonalds and their counterparts and, quite frankly, it seems as though they really don’t give a s**t so, I’m not going to take it back, that giant plastic clown deserves to be shot!

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Nuts!

I couldn’t help but laugh: the study which found that pecans could be beneficial to health was funded by the National Pecan Shellers Association ;O) 

“The power of pecans: Including them in diet can protect from heart attacks if you’re overweight” [Source] What’s your first thought when you read this headline? Mine was ‘what bloody idiot wrote this?’

I’m sure that articles like this are well meaning and the headline was as a result of some research (a study of 26 overweight but ‘otherwise healthy people’) BUT, to my mind, it gives the impression that there is some sort of quick fix for the health problems associated with obesity. It’s true that pecans contain monounsaturated fats which are acknowledged to be significantly better for us than saturated fats but that’s true of all nuts and also avocados. However, it’s also true that nuts and avocados are very high in calories – around 700 per 100g in the case of pecans so suggesting that ‘adding’ them to the diet of someone who is already obese seems to be more than a little counter productive. pecan pieThere is also the risk, if it’s not made clear in articles like this, that people will assume that pecans will be good for them whatever form they come in. Pecan pie may have pecans in it but it also it also contains vast quantities of sugar and around 650 calories per slice so not really the best thing to include in your diet if you’re already overweight.

Not only that but the study, as is the norm, had the participants on a ‘control’ diet for the first four weeks which was low in fibre, fruits and vegetables, so basically lacking in the very foods that contain many of the nutrients we need to keep ourselves healthy. For the second part of the trial 15% of the calorie intake was replaced with pecans and the researchers noted an improvement in the insulin sensitivity of the participants.  This may or not be a significant finding (I’m not a scientist) but, by the time that the research results were picked up by the tabloids, the message had almost become “Don’t worry about having a heart attack if you’re obese, just eat some pecans and you’ll be fine”.

la-la-2People in general pretty much have selective hearing when it comes to things that the like or don’t like and I can’t help feeling that this headline will send out a false message of hope to people who are struggling with their weight and putting themselves at risk of a heart attack and other obesity related illnesses. If you know that something is bad for you but some report or another hints that actually you’ll be fine if you do this or that, you’ll cling to that and cite it as evidence because it’s exactly what you want to hear. I’m not sure if stark warnings are any better because, equally, people can mentally stick their fingers in their ears and sing lalalalalala if it’s something they don’t want to hear.

However, I feel that this type of journalism is both lazy and irresponsible. There was nothing in the narrative about being at much less at risk of a heart attack if you are not obese and nothing about the positive effect that cutting processed foods out of your diet can have. There was also nothing about the positive effects that regular exercise  can have on your heart health, it was just all nuts!

P.S. I couldn’t help but laugh: the study which found that pecans could be beneficial to health was funded by the National Pecan Shellers Association ;O)