Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Published January 17th, 2018 by Hig

Tips to Fight Obesity and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Since 1980, obesity rates in U.S. children have doubled and tripled for adolescents. Fifteen percent of kids between age six and 19 are overweight. Over 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and it’s now considered a major cause of death. Health risks include:

  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol 
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Asthma 

By consciously choosing to make healthier choices with your diet and lifestyle, you’ve taken an important step to not joining the 65 million Americans who struggle with excessive weight. Here are a few wellness-focused actions to help you get (and stay) healthy.

Choose nutritious food. The USDA updated its guidelines in 2015, replacing the food pyramid with “MyPlate,” a new graphic that clearly illustrates the most effective way to incorporate healthy foods such as dairy, lean meat, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your diet. 

Don’t skip breakfast. More evidence supports the claim that breakfast is a critically important meal. A substantial, well-balanced breakfast improves cognition, provides energy and helps with weight control.

Skip sugar—or be naturally sweet. Artificial sweeteners used in “diet” foods can trigger appetites and increase cravings for carbohydrates—and worse, stimulate fat storage. If you can’t live without a little bit of sweet, opt for fruits or use healthy, natural sweeteners including honey and maple syrup.

Eat consciously. Many people also don’t just sit down to eat a meal and focus only on the food. If you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating, you may keep eating long after you’re full. It’s also quite tempting when you’re watching your favorite show to munch on a snack. If you can’t watch a show or a movie without munchies, choose more healthy snacks. Check out these suggestions from Snacknation.

Choose water. Sodas and alcohol have much higher sugar content high and empty calories that hold no nutritional value. Water helps your liver detoxify your body, and often, people mistake thirst—even dehydration—for hunger. The general guideline is eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, although some experts recommend 10 to 12 glasses.  

Get active. You don’t have to join a gym, if that’s not your thing. Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise each day. If your job is mostly sedentary, move around at least once every 20 minutes to improve blood flow and overall body function.

Create good sleep habits. Researchers agree that a lack of good sleep—sleep deprivation, which affects 18 percent of Americans—contributes to obesity. If you’re logging fewer than six hours a night, work to establish healthy sleep habits:

  • Keep a constant sleep schedule—aim for at least seven hours nightly.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Unplug at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly, avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. and alcohol before bedtime.

Address mental health issues. Obesity can result from mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, PTSD and extreme stress. Why? People view food as a nurturing substance—think about all those comfort foods we crave when we’re feeling sad or in need of a pick-me-up.  Experts recommend addressing those mental health concerns to create a healthier mind-body connection.

Surgical options

When dieting hasn’t worked, or you’re suffering from a serious health condition that weight loss would dramatically improve, there are surgical options to lose weight:

  • Gastric sleeve: Induces rapid, significant weight loss; non-reversible
  • Gastric bypass: Significant long-term weight loss; technically complex, long recovery
  • Gastric band: Reversible and adjustable; slower and less weight loss

Each has its pros and cons, and you’ll want to discuss each option, your individual situation and your weight loss goals with a surgeon before choosing a procedure.

Embracing a lifestyle that includes a workout routine you enjoy, a balanced diet of healthy foods, and restorative sleep is perhaps the most effective way to combat obesity. The challenges of mental health disorders may add a few speed bumps, but with the right support and focus, you can still successfully manage and maintain your weight. 

guest editor

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