Fighting Obesity With a Healthy Balanced Diet

It has become common knowledge that obesity is a problem in North America. The newspapers, magazines, television commercials and internet banners all acknowledge the issue. It is not uncommon to see advertisements encouraging membership in diet programs where you can lose those extra pounds in a short time. Marketers have even responded by providing 90-100 calorie pre-packaged snacks ranging from almonds to cookies. Others are telling us to walk it off, and some are encouraging the latest fad diet. It seems that everywhere we look there is someone, somewhere trying to fix our personal weight problem.

Is obesity an issue?

Yes, in more ways than we can imagine. It is not simply a matter of having extra weight. Being overweight or obese triggers many health related situations.

Obese Canadians are 4 times more likely to have diabetes, 3.3 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 56% more likely to have heart disease than those that have healthy weights (1). Throughout North America there are reports relating obesity to heart disease, and diabetes. There are other symptoms that are often ignored by the media but are also troubling. I personally know a lady who experienced severe pain in her feet. The extra 60 pounds she had gained caused a problem with her arches, her feet became “flat” and normal daily activities became a burden. These types of poor health symptoms affect everyone in our communities. Government run health programs become more expensive to operate, families struggle with the emotional side of disease, un-wellness and even death.

Surely you have heard that the rate of overweight and obesity are on the rise. Currently 30.6% of Americans (US), 24.2% of Mexicans and 14.3% of Canadians are obese (2). Compare these rates to those of Japan and South Korea where obesity is only at 3.2% of the population (2). That should trigger two things in your mind. First of all, something that we are doing in North America is causing great negative effects on our optimal health. Second, if there are other nations in the world with lower rates of obesity, then obesity can be controlled in North America as well.

Is there any pattern to obesity in North America?

The acknowledgment of obesity, income levels, sense of failure and lack of physical activities are patterns associated with obesity. Sharon Brady, editor of The World is a Kitchen, believes that the first problem to obesity is that a large portion of individuals are simply not facing the fact that they are overweight whether it is through ignorance, denial or indifference (3). Obesity is also disproportionally found in lower income groups (4). This may be a consequence of buying low nutrient, highly processed foods because of the low dollar values. Another possible problem with weight gain and obesity is the sense of failure that comes with cheating or falling off fad diets. A lack of physical activity or even decreased activities levels associated with changes in lifestyle can also be problematic patterns.

How can we fix the problem of obesity?

Dealing with the way we think about food and our body weight is critical. Information on the mind-body connection is readily available. Understanding and addressing mental and emotional stress is of paramount importance when you want to lose weight (5).

Increasing physical activity is recommended and the Government of Canada has published guides for different age groups (6). Activity can come in many forms, even taking a family holiday can be a way to get moving again.

However, even with a good food mindset and increased physical activity, it will be hard to obtain and maintain a healthy weight without a clear understanding of healthy balanced meals and healthy eating. Regardless of your food choice preferences, vegan, vegetarian, raw or a more traditional meat diet, it is important to make sure you are eating properly. And believe it or not, that is a simple thing to do.

The things we need to consider are:

1. Water

2. Healthy Snacks

3. Protein

4. Dairy and Alternatives

5. Complex Carbohydrates

6. Healthy Fats

7. Fruits and Vegetables

Well, now after saying it is simple, I give you a list of seven things to remember. Trust me, before you know it, the list will become engrained in your thought pattern and you will be on your way to eating healthy balanced meals and optimal health which will result in a natural maintainable weight. Let me guide you through the list.

Water

There has been a lot of concern about plastic water bottles littering our disposal sites and being found floating in the ocean. I agree that it is a problem but the good thing is that it means people are becoming aware of the importance of water and they are drinking more of it.

60 to 70% of our body is water. It is important for normal body functions, like digesting the food we eat. We get water from the fluids we drink as well as the food we eat.

It is recommended that we drink 8 cups of water a day. Even more is required if you live in a dry or hot climate or are physically active. That seems like a lot of water, and it is if you try to drink it all at once. Try drinking a cup first thing in the morning before you even get into the shower. Have a glass or two before every meal and another midway in between meals and a glass in the evening too. Before you know it, you have reached 8 cups of water.

Many people have lost the ability to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. Unfortunately food often wins out and water is left aside. Next time you feel hungry have a glass of water first. Wait for a few minutes to see if the hunger goes away before you eat. If you feel thirsty, you body is already dehydrated. You may need to add more cups of water for your personal lifestyle.

Snacks

For many of us, the word snack triggers the thought of a high calorie, low nutrient food. A good way to think of a snack is like a mini-meal that gets us through to the next meal. It is the opportunity to pick a healthy food that you enjoy but may not part of your meal on that day. One of my all time favorites are apples. If I did not have an apple for breakfast and know I will not have one for lunch, having one for my morning snack, along with my cup of water makes a great healthy snack.

Snacking is critical for children. They get a large portion of their daily calories from snacking and it is important that they get healthy snacks.

Protein, Dairy and Alternatives

Protein comes in many forms and this is often where diet styles differ. No matter what you food style preference is having protein in your meals is important.

Proteins can be found in beans, eggs, meats, fish, milk, cheese, nuts and seeds, soy products including tofu. In North America, having large amounts of protein has become standard. I have seen some restaurants where the smallest steak available is 14 oz and where ordering fish means an entire fish. Having such large amounts of protein is not necessary for your body. Protein is important but it does not have to dominate the meal.

There is much debate over the presence of milk in our diets. Some individuals prefer soy milk and almond milk. The goal with drinking these products is to obtain calcium. Calcium is available through tablet form and naturally occurs in fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are our comfort foods. When we consume them, serotonin is produced and leaves us with that “warm fuzzy feeling.” These foods are best for our bodies when they are closest to their natural state. You will recognize them as breads, crackers, pasta, rice and beans. To obtain the maximum health from your foods, decide on products that are made of whole grains rather than white enriched flours. If you like rice, add brown rice to your diet. It takes longer to cook but you will not be hungry half an hour after you finish your meal.

Healthy Fats

The first thing many people do when they attempt to reduce their weight is to remove all the fat from their diet. Eating a lot of fat is not healthy but the body does need small amounts of healthy fats to function normally. Healthy fats occur naturally in the healthy foods that we eat. Avocados, salmon and other fish, nuts and olive oil all contain fats that are healthy for our body.

Fruits and Vegetables

The number of fruits and vegetables that are available is absolutely amazing. They should make up the majority or your diet and when you can eat them raw, I encourage you to do so. When you make your meal, add lots of color by using a variety of fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the better chance of getting everything your body needs.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aid indigestion. They help keep our bodies healthy, protect us from disease, strengthen our bones and make our skin beautiful. Consider them for your snack.

What is Next?

Well, now you have an idea of the important aspects of creating a healthy balanced meal. Pick a food from each category and several from the fruits and vegetables. These will be the ingredients for your meal.

An example of a traditional style meal could be fish for your protein (but not an entire fish), some brown rice, and a large salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries and sesame seeds. For a healthy snack after dinner, try a fruit salad made with three of your favorite fruits.

That is how simple making a healthy balanced meal can be when you have a little information.

What Difference will this make?

Eating healthy balanced meals will allow you to lose weight naturally. At first you will still have cravings for the heavily processed products that you ate in the past. Eventually you will replace those without even thinking about it. You weight will reduce naturally and you will be able to maintain a healthy weight.

There is no cheating with eating healthy balanced meals because you are making the decisions for you diet. If you have potato chips tonight just acknowledge how it makes your body feel. Next time try a nice fresh piece of pineapple with all its amazing health and healing benefits. Acknowledge how it feels. Learn to listen to your body.

Failure does not exist in a healthy balanced diet. Every time you eat a healthy balanced meal, you are moving ahead to a better healthier you.

Most importantly, you will be setting an example for your child, friends and everyone else that you come into contact with. Help make North America a healthy North America. Japan and South Korea are doing it, so can we, one meal at a time.

References

1. Provincial Health Services Authority, Government of British Columbia. July 2005. “A Review of Better Practices for the Prevention of Obesity and Overweight and the Maintenance of Healthy Weights.

2. Mokdad, Ali et. Al. 2001. Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors, 2001

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Essentials Of Highly Healthy People

1.0 INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION

Health is derived from the old English word “whole”. The definition of Health is intended to include those things that “make a person whole” which means more than just physical well-being.

In 1948, World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, social or relational well-being and not merely the absence or disease of infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

In 1984, WHO added spirituality to its list of factors necessary for optimum health. If we are to be truly healthy, the physical, mental and spiritual elements must be functioning as God designed them to function. The physical may be the most unimportant of the three because with good mental and spiritual health, we can still be content even though our bodies may be unhealthy.

From ancient to modern times, authoritative sources indicates that health is continually defined in terms of the physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual well-being.
Health is a major topic in the Bible and it is viewed primarily as the restoration and strengthening of one’s personal relationship with God. It is also viewed as a healthy lifestyle (physically and emotionally) that focuses on passing healthy relationships with your family and with other people.

Being highly healthy means being healthy in every area of your life during every stage of your life. It means being balanced in these areas: body, mind, spirit and community usually taken as the four “wheels” of Health. By balancing these aspects of health, you can become blessed and thus, highly healthy.

2.0 PRINCIPLES ESSENTIAL TO BEING HIGHLY HEALTHY

a. The essential of balance
b. The essential of self-care
c. The essential of forgiveness
d. The essential of reducing SADness (Stress, Anxiety and Depression)
e. The essential of relationships
f. The essential of spiritual well-being
g. The essential of positive self-image
h. The essential of discovering your destiny
i. The essential of personal responsibility and
j. The essential of empowerment
k. The essential of team work.

These are designed and programmed into the very core of our beings. It is important they are understood, learnt and applied in our daily living in order to become highly healthy.

3.0 FOUR WHEELS OF HEALTH

These wheels are likened to the four wheels of a stable car with strong spokes for each wheel all wheels in balance. They represent the:

a. physical health – the well-being of one’s body

b. emotional health – the well-being of one’s mental faculties and one’s connection with his or her various emotions.

c. relational health – the well-being of one’s association with family, colleagues and friends in the context of a community that is healthy and

d. spiritual health – the well-being of one’s relationship with God

Further indepth into them shows:

(a) The physical wheel

Maximum physical health occurs when the body with all its chemicals, parts and systems is functioning as closely as possible to the way God designed it to function. For a person to be physically healthy, disease must be prevented whenever possible and treated as needed. When illness or disorder is incurable, physical health involves learning to cope with and adapt to physical disease.

With good emotional, relational and spiritual health, a person can still be highly healthy, even though his or her body may not be “whole”.

The major determinants of physical health are the activities you engage in (exercises, walk), rest hours (sleep, relaxation, vacations, recreation). Intake into the body (water, good, and toxins) fruits and vegetables, mineral in-take of caffeine, tobacco, soft drinks, saturated fats, highly processed foods, fast food and sweets, illicit drugs, alcoholic drink, beverages); elimination (urine, stool, bowel movements).

(b) Emotional wheel

This is the state of maximum emotional and mental well-being. It is not the absence of emotional distress which is unavoidable for any imperfect human being. Being emotionally healthy requires learning to cope with and to embrace the full spectrum of human emotions each of us faces everyday throughout our lives. It requires healthy brain function. If the brain dyefunction is untreated, it becomes non-functional and throws his physical, emotional, relational and spiritual wheels out of balance. This has to do with stimulation (too hot, too cold or just right). If you experience too much or too little stimulation, if you are too busy or exceptionally bored, you are suffering from emotional health. Enough quiet is required in everyone’s life. Another aspect which is quietness (peace, tranquility in one’s soul), lack of self-worth, lack of intimacy with others, loneliness associated with accumulated grudges towards others or yourself, lack of intimacy with God are the major causes of emotional pain. Any of these lacks can lead to simmering, embittering anger towards others or yourself or God.

Life long learning is important to one’s health. As the physical exercise helps the heart, muscles and bones, stay healthy, your brain benefits from mental actuality. Continuing to educate yourself and staying mentally active are ways to protect yourself from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Regular reading, having a challenging job and participation in ongoing education is linked with sharper mind later in life. Teaching, crossword puzzles, class or church education all help the maintenance of emotional wheel.

(c) Relational Wheel

This is the state of maximum well-being in all our social relationships – those with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, co-workers, broader community. Relational stress and discord are inevitable as we interact with fellow human beings. We have to do all we can to prevent and “treat” disordered relationships. Relational wheel involves trusting people and relations, parents, children, spouse, extended family, friends and support groups.

The relationship you have with your parents plays a critical role in determining your ability to have good relationships with others. If your parents balanced love with discipline, freedom with limits, and nurture with training, and if your relationship with them when you became adult was healthy, enjoyable and affectionate, then you have a good relational health. The same with children and spouses. Our relations – sisters, brothers aunts, uncles, cousins and nephews have profound impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health.

Friends also play important role in predicting premature death and disease. People who have nobody caring for them, who do not feel close to anyone, have no one in whom to confide are likely to suffer premature death or disease more. Having friends who love, care for us with unconditional support give us powerful positive health benefits.

(d) Spiritual wheel

This is defined as the state of maximum well-being in our personal relationship with our creator. To be spiritually healthy, any separation or disharmony on our relationship with God must be prevented or treated. This is the most crucial one of all the other aspects of health.

Healthy people make their spiritual well-being a consistent priority by actively seeking to understand Gods plans and design for them in terms of their physical, emotional, relational and spiritual condition, seeking and accepting their creator’s personal instructions and direction in their lives. If the spiritual wheel is given less attention than the other three, we cannot be highly healthy while, we are not promised a perfectly healthy physical life, the Bible promises those who have a vital personal relationship with God an abundant life one that will be full and meaningful – infused with purpose, contentment and joy.

To have spiritual health, trust in God, pray and meditate and fellowship in a faith community and faith sharing.

4.0 HOW TO BECOME A HIGHLY HEALTHY PERSON

The Essential of Balance: Set a wise balance in your life – the “health car” with its four “wheels of health” cannot run smoothly without all wheels running well i.e. being in balance. Neglecting one or more of your wheels of health will result in imbalanced health problems. You cannot become a highly healthy person without first diagnosing your unique areas of disease and maintenance.

b. The Essential of Self-care: Be proactive in preventing disease.. The secret to becoming and staying highly healthy is to prevent “disease” in body, mind, spirit and in relationships as much as is possible.

i. Exercise makes you feel healthier than eating does. Regular exercise help to control weight, improve overall health, reduce risk of such medical problems as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.

ïi. Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week.

iii Exercise regularly and consistently to control your weight

iv. avoid highly processed foods.

v. eat nutritious diet and do not over eat. Eat foods with high fibre content, whole grains, nuts, sugar yogurt and low in calories, salt, saturated fats and refined sugars. Health enhancing fish is important too.

vi. drink lots of water and do not smoke.

vii. consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

viii. do not consume alcohol or tobacco products.

ix. Practice and enjoy regular sex with your legal spouse in mutually monogamous relationship.

c. The Essential of Forgiveness: Practice acceptance and letting go.

F = Forgiving is highly healthy
O = Organize your thoughts by writing
R = Review your experience
G = Give the Boot to anger and Regret
I = Invest in removing resentment
V = Victory comes in forgiving others
I = Increase your gratitude for the past pain
N = Navigate to inner place
G = Give comfort to others.

d. The Essential of Reducing SADness-stress, Anxiety and depression). Lighten your load.

1. STRESS is any change that required you to adapt or change the way you are doing something. Stress is virtually unavoidable in contemporary life. Stress can come from big things – retirement, job change, pregnancy, new baby, loss of loved one, new school, new job or from little things – change in weather, flat tyre or traffic jam, sudden deadline, misplaced house keys or an electrical outage. These events are technically called stressors. Some stress is good. We are made to withstand some amount of stress which can help us grow physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Too much stress at one single time or for too long a time usually called chronic stress can lead to weakness in all 4 of our health wheels. We are created to respond to stress in a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. When confronted with more stress than we are designed for – a large stress all at once or smaller amount of relentless.

Stress, our blood pressure and pulse increase. In the short run, this is healthy but in the long run, if the natural fight (stress) response becomes our way of life and can hurt in many ways:

ii. it can damage blood vessels and heart

iii. it can cause the body to release hormons that cause the liver to release sugar, store fat.

iv. it can cause adrenal glands to “poop out”.

v. it can cause our muscles to tense up

vi. it can increase the release of stomach acid and affect the motility of the intestine and colon leading to a variety of gastrointestinal upsets and disturbances.

vii. it can suppress the immune system – possibly making us more susceptible to infections and to certain chronic illnesses.

viii. Too much stress can and will keep you from becoming a highly healthy person.

2. ANXIETY in its most basic form is healthy – designed by our Creator to arouse us to and get us ready for action. Anxiety can prepare you physically and emotionally for a threatening situation. Anxiety is designed both to help us cope and to assist us in performing at a high level. But an anxiety disorder occurs when normal anxiety does the opposite – instead of helping you cope, it prevents you from coping and dramatically disrupts your daily life.

General anxiety disorder comes on without any trigger. People with general anxiety disorder worry about health, money, job, family or work. They are unable to relax and often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Their worries are almost accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes; nauseated, go to bathroom frequently, have palpitations or atypical chest pains, feel tired, cannot concentrate and suffer depression. This is more common in women than in men.

3. DEPRESSION weakens the emotional wheel and prevents people from becoming highly healthy. It often accompanies anxiety disorder. Depression is commonly accompanied by feeling of sadness, apathy and hopelessness as well as changes in appetite or sleep. Depression can also make it difficult for some people to concentrate. Some types of depression can be treated using modern anti-depression medications, dietary supplements, nutritional therapies, exercise, light therapy, pastoral counseling or psychotherapy. Some researchers conclude that depression is caused by an imbalance in the hormones of the brain.

4. The Essential of Relationship: Avoid loneliness. Loneliness leads to evil plans. If your brain stays idle, it becomes sick and deteriorates into the devil’s workshop and you become automatically the devils work tool. Always engage yourself in meaningful ventures.

i. live with and depend on the extended family who offer cradle to grave security and support.

ii. avoid loneliness, relationships with neighbours, family and friends are vital.

iii. respect the elders so that when they become elderly, they enjoy the admiration, honour, esteem and affection of their families and of society.

iv. Build family intimacy.

5. The Essential of spiritual well-being: Cultivate a time for spirituality.

The Bible promises that if we choose to trust God and live according to the purpose he designed for each of us or we can rely instead on our own finite plans and efforts. It promises also that if we choose God to fill and empower our very Souls, then we will develop spiritual fruit that endures, regardless of our circumstances or the state of our physical, emotional, or relational health. All the good things of life – right marriage, right job, right kids, right amount of money, right car or house or clothes can only be added to the most important element of wellness, namely, seeking, knowing, and pleasing God. If we believe in and trust God, if we make an intimate relationship with him a priority, if he controls and empowers our lives and we seek our purpose in his grand design, then we will experience wholeness at the deepest level of our being.

Spiritual healthiness ensures longer life, lower Blood pressure, improved surgical outcomes, shorter hospital stays, improved mental health, overall well-being:

i. Place your relationship with God at the centre of your life

ii. Read, memorize and meditate on Bible passages daily.

iii. Spend time on meditation and prayer daily.

6. The essential of a positive self-image: See yourself as your Creator sees you.

Our human nature is to compare ourselves to others. This results in feelings of inferiority. This is called compare and despair problem.

If your self-esteem is low, you need to do these:

i. Avoid negative self-talk

ii. Think positively

iii. Aim above the normal standard

iv. Do the things that bring joy and satisfaction

v. Serve others.

Other essentials necessary for healthy living are:

7. The Essential of Discovering Your Destiny (Nurture your hopes and dreams)
8. The Essential of Personal Responsibility (Be your own health care controller)
9. The Essential of Empowerment (Imitation is limitation as you can get to the level you wish in
your life setting your own goal for yourself).
10. The Essential of Team Work (Team up with winning health care providers)

5.0 CONCLUSION

You can decide today to live a highly healthy life having seen the methods, benefits and consequences of being healthy and not. Your destiny is in your own hands and the choice is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better is yours. Spend time each week with highly healthy people and you will change for the better.

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