Weight control advice

 

 

Introduction

 

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...). 

Useful  tips

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 intake. 

 

*     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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