Weight control advice
Most often, excess weight accumulates slowly over the years. Let’s suppose a overload of 10 kg gathered in 5 years, not an uncommon situation in childhood and adolescence : this means 10.000 grams in 1825 days, i.e. slightly more than 5 grams a day !
This example helps understand that a drastic diet offers no adequate solution. It does not make sense to start a hunger strike to go back to an « ideal » weight in a few months. The almost invariable result is a marked malaise, and an end to this unnecessarily heroic effort.
On the other hand, if the patient manages to improve, if only slightly but permanently his/her daily life hygiene, enough to stop this - mostly fat - accumulation of 5 grams a day, weight control becomes relatively easy, especially in a growing child. If weight stabilization is achieved in childhood, it produces a much leaner person a few years later.
An easy way to follow a suspected weight excess is to measure the patient's waist circumference, closely related with trunk fat, a most significant health risk factor. Above a given threshold, i.e. more or less the 75th percentile (see paediatric and adolescent reference data) or "waist circumferences in children" this measurement warns against long term dangers (hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes...).
Weight control counseling includes a number of useful tips, effective and fairly easy to put into practice.
* Drink a large glass of water at the beginning
of each meal. Almost all overweight persons drink too little, when they
don’t take beverages rich in
calories (sweetened juices, carbonated drinks, beer, wine). Drinking more water is a very useful help in a
strategy aiming at
limiting one’s food
* Eat slowly. The feeling of having eaten enough does not come before 15-20 minutes. It is good to talk at the table. Meals are also an opportunity to meet and exchange. They must not be limited to drinking and eating.
* Never skip a meal. The result is almost always too much food taken at the next meal. On the other hand it is a bad idea to eat between meals, commonly sweetened foods.
* If possible, eat often enough (ideally 5 times a day). Snacks are OK but they should not be too rich, i.e. too caloric (chocolate, biscuits, chips). Raw carrots, apples, a low fat yoghurt are useful alternatives.
* Abandon almost completely sugar containing beverages and sweets. Since nothing is forbidden, they can be offered a moment in the week, but should be avoided at other times.
* A balanced diet. Limit fat, sugar, and “slow sugars” (starch, cereals, potato chips, pasta). On the other hand, it is almost impossible to gain too much weight with salads, fish, meat or eggs. A diet rich enough in calcium also helps fight excess weight gain. Milk and dairy products – preferably skimmed or half-skimmed - are useful in this respect. For people who don’t tolerate milk, a calcium supplement is advised (such as Steocar or Steovit – with vitamin D). A better intestinal flora also protects against overweight ; this may be obtained through regular (daily) intake of a bifidus yoghurt (Yakult , Activia...) or a probiotic (Protectis...)
* Do not nibble or snack in front of the TV set !
* Move. It does not require a high level sport activity. Leaving a bus at the previous stop, using a staircase rather than the elevator, walking, taking one’s bike or skates rather than a car, all that consumes energy and reinforces lean body mass (including muscles) which even at rest burn more calories than fat tissue.
* Putting a tape around the waist is easy. The scale is no less important. It is useful to measure waist and weight, at least once or twice a week, and daily if needed, i.e. if one does not succeed in controlling one’s weight gain. It is essential to follow the result of one’s efforts, closely enough to adjust them. A meaningful psychological feed-back cannot be established otherwise.
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