Why are thin people “fatter” than they used to be?
Why is morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes—and even sex reversalis fish species—becoming common?
…Is something pervading our environment that is making us fatter?
Traditionally, we look at overeating and underexercising as the main contributors to the obesity epidemic. Diet and exercise are deemed to be the solutions to the problem. Maybe we are overlooking other factors? Do we need to pay attention to new research on “obesogens”?
Obesogens are chemical compounds found in food, drugs, and industrial products (like plastics) that may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight. These compounds may contribute to more and bigger fat cells. Exposure to these compounds in utero may explain (in part) why childhood obesity is on the rise, why even thin people are “fatter” than they used to be, and why morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sex reversal in fish species is on the rise.
Clearly, we need to explore all possible factors that contribute to weight issues, not just diet and exercise. Some of these factors include looking at ways to reduce potential environmental obesogens that might be in plastics, canned goods, nonstick cookware, air fresheners, laundry products, and personal care products. Obesogens may be yet another reason to eat less processed foods, particularly those that come packaged in plastic or cans. The research is in its infancy, so stay tuned—and until we know more, start eating more foods that are minimally processed!
Restricting food intake to lose weight is the common approach to becoming leaner. Yet, research consistently tells us that reducing diets are often unsuccessful and contribute to weight gain in the long run, to say nothing of depression and disordered eating behaviors. A growing body of research suggests that intuitive eating is a healthier alternative to current strategies of dieting to lose weight.
Intuititve eating is a sustainable approach that focuses on trusting your body to tell you how much to eat so you will stopping eating when you are full. Intuitve eaters eat for physical, not emotional, reasons.This is how normal-weight people tend to eat.
We were all born with the ability to eat when hugnry and stop when content. Unfortunately, our society’s food environment and lifestyle easily derail intuitive eating behaviors. We are often too busy to eat when hunger arises or fail to have food available. Many dieters even keep food “out of the house” due to lack of trust regarding their ability to stop eating when they are full. Fatigue and stress, in addition to the denial and deprivation associated with dieting, further compound the drive to overeat.
As a society, we need to step away from encouraging both young people and adults to diet and instead focus on—
1. teaching them how to eat mindfully (i.e., to connect with body signals: Does my body need this food?),
2. improving the food environment (such as having salad, not French fires, be the default side dish on menus), and
3. making sleep more of a priority.
As an adult, you can take steps to reclaim this innate behavior and teach yourself how to eat intutively so you can better invest in your health and well-being.
For more information, enjoy reading Intuitive Eating by EvelynTribole and Elyse Resch.
Quinoa is becoming maintream among many health-conscious athletes, many of whom are vegetarians or vegans. They may choose to eat quinoa because it is said to be a protein-rich grain. (Technically speaking, quinoa is a seed, but we eat it as a grain-food.) Quinoa is also touted as containing all the essential amino acids.
But as you can see in the chart below, quinoa is not really a protein powerhouse. Be sure to eat it along with tofu, beans, yogurt or other protein-rich foods to reach the target of 20 to 30 grams protein per meal.
Quinoa is also expensive: $6 per pound, as compared to brown rice at $1.50 per pound.
Here's how some grains compare:
2 oz. dry
2 oz. dry
1/3 c dry
1/3 c dry
1/3 c dry
If you are a quinoa consumer, please let me know your reasons for choosing quinoa.
Edible seeds and nuts are not only nutritious but can add a nice crunch to yogurt, cereal, salads and casseroles. Most have a mild, and slightly nutty flavor. They are rich in polyunsaturated fats, fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E and magnesium—but they also add calories. Dieters beware—a few tablespoons here and there of nuts and seeds from the salad bar can add another 200 to 400 calories!
Flax is a source of health protective ALA omega-3 fats. You need to grind the seed or else it will passwhole through your digestive tract.
Chia, like flax, is a source of ALA omega-3 fats. ALA is not as effective as fish and animal sources of omega-3, but any omega-3 is better for your health than nothing. When soaked in water for 10 minutes, chia seeds create a gel that can be used as a thickener for smoothies and as an alternative to eggs and oils in some recipes.
Sunflower seeds have a pleasing taste when added to a salad, muffins, or cereal. Sunflower butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter, and is rich in healht-healthy polyunsaturated fats
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have a nutrient profile similar to other seeds.
Hemp contains all the essential amino acids, adding aboost to vegan diets.
Sesame seeds have a gentle flavor. They make a nice coating for sauteed or baked chicken breasts (in place of—or in addition to—bread crumbs).
Here is how their nutritional value compares. Note how the calories can add up quickly. They offer some protein, but for a vegan athlete who may need at least 60 to 90 grams of protein per day, they are not a strong protein source. The same goes for calcium and iron; nuts and seeds are a source of those nutrients, but generally not a strong source -- unless you happen to enjoy lots of sesame seeds (for calcium) and chia (for iron)!