Staying fit can be quite a struggle and challenge today. Why? Firstly, we are constantly being bombarded from every angle by ads to eat junk food. Take a look at commercials, fast food signs, and “up-size me” deals. Who doesn’t sit down to watch a movie or show for the night and think about having a snack? Secondly, what do you see when you walk into your grocery store? You see sales on chips, cookies, soda, and the like. And look at the items you have to pass on your way through the checkout stands — candy, donut holes; crackers … We’ve gone from the past of this:
It’s no wonder the health of our country is on a downslide.
Don’t Become a Statistic
The American lifestyle is taking its toll on our health. Here are just a few statistics from the CDC:
- 71.6% of adults age 20 and over are overweight or obese.
- 20.6% of adolescents aged 12-19 years are obese.
- 18.4% of children aged 6-11 are obese.
- 13.9% of children aged 2-5 years are obese.
Heart Disease in the United States
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
- One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
- About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
You Can’t Outrun Your Fork!
We sometimes refer to the phrase, “You can’t outrun your fork!” Have you heard of this before? It’s a clever way of saying that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. For example, have you ever thought, “I can eat this dessert today, and tomorrow I’ll just exercise it off?” Unfortunately, this is not a very workable method.
Texas Tech University Study
According to Health.com a study at Texas Tech University followed 48 men and 100 women between the ages of 18 and 65 for the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. At the beginning and end of the study, researchers measured the subjects’ weights and body fat percentages. On average, the volunteers gained one and a half pounds (men about two pounds each, and about a pound for the women). In this study, half of the subjects were inactive and the other half worked out roughly five hours a week, yet both groups gained the same amount of weight.
Calories vs Exercise
There is a simple fact we cannot overlook – to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. If you eat highly processed foods that’s a tough job! But, even if someone could do an incredible amount of exercise to burn off high calorie, high sugar junk food, what are the health problems they end up with as a result?
So it’s not just about losing weight or not being obese. It’s about eating highly nutritious foods that give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Let’s take a closer look.
If we look at the origin of the word “diet” we find it came from Greek diaita ‘a way of life’. Typically people “diet” to lose weight. But once they have lost the desired weight they tend to go off their diet and put the weight back on. We see this time and time again. The problem – their diet is not a ‘way of life’. For this reason, we recommend the Paleo diet. We have found it is a diet that can be sustained over time and is well balanced. With the Paleo diet, you develop healthy habits you can live with and maintain a healthy weight.
The Paleo Diet
There are a lot of key factors to the Paleo Diet. But simply put, the basic foundation is to eat foods that match our genetically determined nutritional requirements. In other words, the foods we ate long before the agricultural and dairy revolutions and the industrial revolution took place. These revolutions drastically changed the human food supply away from our genetic requirements.
The Paleo Diet is about eating whole, nutrient-dense foods in line with our hunter-gatherer ancestors – fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, fish, nuts, and seeds—and avoiding the foods they didn’t eat, such as refined grains and sugar. There is much more to the diet. We invite you to read about it from thepaleodiet.com
But whatever diet you follow, you can work on avoiding highly processed foods and eating more whole foods.
5 Tips for Staying Fit
1. Read the ingredients.
Many foods are touted as being healthy when in fact they are not. Examples: granola bars, trail mixes, processed cereals. These are high in processed sugars. A simple rule of thumb: food ingredients are listed by quantity — from highest to lowest. When you see the first ingredients being a type of sugar, refined grains, or hydrogenated oils, don’t buy it!
You can get more data on how to read labels from Health Line.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You can add vegetables to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For example:
- Make an omelet that is full of green onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, etc.
- Include a salad with your lunch and make it as colorful as possible using different vegetables.
- Add berries, chopped apples, or orange slices to your favorite dishes.
- Wash and chop vegetables such as celery and carrots ahead of time. When you get the urge to snack you’ll have something healthy to reach for.
3. Avoid eating processed foods as much as possible.
The best way to do this is with menu planning. When you don’t have your next meal planned it’s a lot easier to run out and buy fast food or make “quick fix” meals such as macaroni and cheese or hotdogs and beans. Set a time each week for your meal planning and stick to it as best you can.
4. Make water your primary beverage.
The human adult body is 60% water. Staying hydrated has so many benefits to maintain the delicate balance in your body. If you want to add some flavor to your water, add slices of fruit such as lemon or watermelon with mint to give it some taste.
5. Exercise daily.
While you can’t outrun your fork, exercise is still vital to your health. Even if you can’t get to a gym right now you can still go for a walk, jog or ride a bike. Getting out daily will improve your mental outlook as well.
Whether you are currently on a diet or not, you can’t go wrong to avoid highly processed foods and seek out whole, unprocessed foods.
Wishing you the best on your journey for optimal health!
Dr. J. Craig Strickland, DC
Carolina Rehab and Physical Medicine Center
1211 48th Ave N
Little River, SC 29577