Statistics show that the obesity rate of Americans is skyrocketing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that there are 72.5 million people in our country who are obese. This is 2.4 million more than only two years ago.
Because certain types of cancer are linked to obesity, the American Institute for Cancer Research says that they expect to see an increase in new cancer cases. They predict that there will be more than 103,000 new cancer cases in 2010 because of this epidemic.
It is not only cancer. Obesity is causing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, obstructive sleep apnea, and the list goes on. We must do something to stop this epidemic.
The Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. It goes on to say that obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Obesity among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 years has increased from 5.0% to 18.1%. Many of these children are already showing signs of heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They are still children, and they are already on their way to a heart attack. We must do something to stop this!
The two main things that work together to aid in weight loss is exercise and a healthier diet. This report will deal with the diet part of that equation.
There is no magic formula for weight loss. There are plenty of people and companies out there telling you that they have the answer. But the answer is that you need to burn more calories than you consume.
We are the country of super-sized meals. We have become so adjusted to our large plates heaped with unhealthy foods, that we don’t know what a healthy portion is. When we learn how to eat the right kinds of food in the right portion size, we will start to see results.
If you search online, you can find several calculators that will tell you how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight. Once you figure out how many calories you need to maintain your weight, you can plan your meals and exercise accordingly.
One pound of fat requires 3,500 calories. If you take the number of calories per day that the calculator gave you, and subtract 500 calories from that, you will find out what your calorie intake should be if you want to lose 1 pound per week. If you begin to exercise, take into account the number of calories you will be burning through that as well.
After you figure out how many calories you need, you should start thinking about the types of food you should be eating. Experts have come up with a list of superfoods. These are foods that will provide you with the nutrition that you need for optimum health. They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants which help you fight infection and disease. They are, by no means, a complete list of healthy foods. They are, however, a great place to start.
Low fat or fat free yogurt, as long as it does not have any added sugar, is the first on this list. Buy plain yogurt, and mix it with fresh fruits. Make sure it has active or live cultures. These probiotics feed your intestines with healthy bacteria and promote good gastrointestinal health. I like to put yogurt into a blender with a banana and berries. Add a little milk and maybe some ice chips. What you get is an incredible smoothie which will satisfy your sweet tooth without being detrimental to your health. Yogurt is high in calcium, and it may be easier to tolerate for those who are lactose intolerant. It can be used in some recipes to replace sour cream. It can also be used as a spread on sandwiches to take the place of high fat, high calorie mayonnaise.
Berries are also on the list of super foods. They have antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are high in fiber which will help you to feel full longer, and will help control your blood sugar. They are also low in calories. In addition to being good in smoothies, they can be added to baked goods, cereal, or salads. While you are at it, throw in some nuts. They are next on our list of super foods.
Nuts are high in fiber and antioxidants. They are high in protein which helps control your blood sugar. The fat they have in them is good, heart healthy fat. Studies have shown that they can help lower cholesterol. Because nuts are high in calorie, you do have to be somewhat careful with them if you are trying to lose weight. You should aim for one ounce per day. They can be added to cakes and cookies, (watch your sugar) cereals and salads.
Avocados are sometimes avoided because they are high in fat. But the monounsaturated fat that they contain is healthy fat. It helps reduce cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. They help control blood sugar and are good for heart disorders. They are a good source of fiber and lutein, which is good for eye and skin health.
Eggs are a very healthy way to get your protein. They contain 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory.
Kiwis are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. In fact, one large kiwi gives you all the vitamin C you will need to meet your daily requirement. It is also the only fruit that provides vitamin E, which helps with good skin and cardiovascular health.
Quinoa is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, iron, zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. It helps prevent diabetes and heart disease. It is good with meats and vegetables or even eaten alone. Other whole grains which promote good health are barley, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat, wild rice, and millet.
Beans are a good source for insoluble fiber, and will help lower your cholesterol and prevent irregularity. They are a good source for protein, carbohydrates, magnesium, and potassium. They can take the place of meat in your meal. You can put them into soups as a filler, or mash them up as a sandwich spread. Edamame contains omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart.
Garlic lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The National Cancer Institute also lists garlic as a potential cancer-preventative food. It is also antibacterial and antiviral which helps reduce colds and infections.
The American Heart Association recommends that we eat fatty fish like salmon, twice per week because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Salmon is low in calories and saturated fat, and high in protein and iron. Another good fish is tuna which has benefits similar to salmon.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin A, C, and K, which builds your bones. It has lots of fiber which is good for weight loss.
Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A and C, and a good source for calcium and potassium. They substitute very well for baked white potatoes. They help control your blood pressure and reduce bone loss. Other good dark orange vegetables, which are nutritionally similar to the sweet potato, are carrots, pumpkin and butternut squash.
Eating right suddenly becomes much easier when you start to learn which foods are healthy. The internet is loaded with delicious recipes to help incorporate these foods into your diet. Even unhealthy recipes can sometimes be changed a little to eliminate the bad ingredients and include some healthier foods.
You won’t be able to make all the changes overnight. Just do what you can to get started. Then as you start to see weight loss and feel the effects of healthier eating, you will be motivated to move ahead. Do it today!
WebMD-10 Everyday Super Foods
The Obesity Society-Obesity Statistics
CNN Health-Increased Obesity Means Increased Cancer Cases by Dr. Sanjay Gupta
About.com Walking-Calories per day calculator
CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Healthy Youth! Childhood Obesity
Everyday Health, 13 Most Powerful Superfoods by Amy Paturel, MS, MPH