In the good old days, humans ate food to survive. In the good new days, most humans (particularly the fortunate ones in most First World nations) eat food to increase enjoyment of life. We equate food with love, happiness and success.
Because we like love, happiness and success so much, many of us eat as much food as we can get our hands on – and forks into.
You may have inherited a genetic tendency for being overweight (“everyone in my family is fat or chubby”), or you may have been raised in a family where overeating was the rule, rather than the exception to the rule. The end result is that you, over the years, developed food eating habits that have nurtured the fat monster.
You are today what you have been eating during the past years.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to fight your own fat monster by just cutting down on the amount of food you eat – without anyone’s help. Or you may need the professional help of a dietitian, diabetes educator or counselor to help you with your weight control programme. Whether you do it alone or with the help of someone else, there are certain things you need to do before you sit down at your next dinner table.
You need to create a list of foods you love – and really can’t cut out – and the foods you really won’t miss when they’re dropped from your diet. You also need a list of foods that fall between the loved and the not loved.
When you consider the foods that won’t be missed or are “iffy”, look for those that contain the most kilojoules. You’ll get the most bangs for your dollar when you cut out high-kilojoules, low-nutrition foods. One of the prime examples of this kind of food is alcohol (the drinking kind). When you drink alcohol, you are almost drinking the equivalent of fat in terms of the numbers of kilojoules. There is very little nutrition in an alcoholic beverage but lots of unneeded and, in your case, unwanted kilojoules.
Some people can get started on a weight loss programme just by giving up booze. Not only will they lose weight, they will gain many other health benefits. (Don’t be misled by the newspaper stories on the benefits obtained by persons who drink one glass of beer or wine every day of their lives, compared with teetotalers. There were many other variables in the lifestyles of the two groups – drinkers and non-drinkers – that probably skewed the results of these studies.)
In social situations where everyone else is drinking alcoholic beverages, you can quietly ask for a diet soda, a glass of iced tea, or an alcohol-free substitute, such as a Virgin Mary.
In addition to alcohol, you will be able to identify quite a number of high-kilojoules foods that can be eliminated from your diet. Think about the kind of snacks you consume while watching TV. You can easily switch to low-kilojoules snacks, such as no-salt, butter-free popcorn.
The act of writing down your list of foods in the love, don’t care, and iffy columns will help you take the next step-actually eliminating some of these foods from your life.
Your skills in blood glucose monitoring also can help you decide which foods should stay and which should go. You can see, by the numbers on your glucose meter, how some foods affect your blood glucose levels. Measure your glucose before you eat a portion of a specific food and then repeat the measurement one hour later. Experiment with different combinations of foods to see which ones produce the smallest peaks in your after-meal blood glucose.
Eliminate those high-peak “villains”, along with any foods that produce high blood glucose levels for hours after you’ve eaten them. Use your blood glucose monitoring along with your bathroom scales to see the weekly progress you’re making toward your weight goals.