By Thelma Ledford
Recently I have been handed questions concerning weight loss, dieting, appetite, and fast foods. Many are concerned about their weight. We should be, because what we weigh is important to health and longevity. We can weight too much, or too little. We rarely hear anything on the subject of underweight, and the advertisers have given people the idea that “thin is better.” This is not always so, because underweight people might also be damaging their health.
The fear of being overweight has brought about a serious set of problems for many people, especially young women. Eating disorders, such as, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are affecting an estimated one million teenagers. Some speculate that society’s excessive pressure to be thin is to blame for some of them along with other modern emotional problems. If people are underweight or overweight, they still need to make health adjustments. Both groups need personal help; however, we can discuss some general areas. Our appetite and foods we are eating do play a part in helping to maintaining proper weight.
But, let’s be honest with ourselves, “Dieting” does not work—and never will. If it worked, why would people always have to come up with these “new” diet plans? This just puts millions in somebody’s pocket. Another reason is that when a person says “I’m dieting” do you know what happens? They begin to constantly put their focus upon “food.” It stimulates their appetite. When a person says that he “dieted” and it worked for him, look closely, he will either gain the weight back, or he will have changed his whole lifestyle.
“Dieting” is a word you usually do not hear me use. And then only to say I do not believe in it. After finishing my nutrition course, I was asked what I disliked most about the course, and my comment was “I dislike counting calories.” What a way for a person to live! Every bit of food put into the mouth would be eaten in fear and regret. Later great guilt would come because of what was eaten. To stop the emotional guilt, more food would be consumed.
There are underlying causes to every health problem and the whole person: his personality and lifestyle must be addressed. The physical body can be weakened by negative attitudes as well as by the food consumed. To discuss foods and lay out a diet plan for a person is sufficient to reach the desired goal in weight, but will it be a plan they can maintain? Calories are important and enough must be consumed to fuel the body and meet its energy needs. In doing a three-day food analysis on myself, I discovered my caloric intake was too low. I was not hungry, nutrient levels were high; however, my body was using the lean tissue for fuel. It is possible to eat lots of food and not get enough calories when certain foods are restricted. Also you can eat good nutritious foods, but not get enough calories. So, I do not mean that they are not important.
Here are some comments I received about dieting: too expensive, no motivation to stay at it, diet food is monotonous, love junk food better, no time to cook, do not like exercise, no energy, no time, and I’m too tired. Here is a heart cry for help. This person, in her twenties, realized that she could not keep up with her grandmother. After having tried many diets, the question is asked, “Is there an easy way out without totally changing my lifestyle?” I wish I could say there was, but I cannot, however, I can say that the results are worth the effort. “Nothing worth-while is ever easy.”
Changing eating habits is in the same category as training ourselves to get out of bed, dress, go to work, mow the lawn or clean the house. The need requires us to discipline and train ourselves. The results are the same—satisfaction. The weeds grow again and the house gets dirty again. It is the same with changing our eating habits. When we do something again and again whether we want to or not is called “a training procedure.” You keep at it. When you slip you get up and start over again until you master the thing. Sooner or later the lawn will have to be mowed. Waiting too long requires more effort, but it will evidentially have to be done. You will have to pay someone to cut the tall weeds because of your neglect, but you cannot pay someone to change your eating habits for you. Laziness is no excuse!
Everything we do requires effort. What kind of effort do you think Edison put forth to give us electric lights? Great men and women had to put great effort into what they did. To be great, or successful, in anything takes effort. To be healthy requires effort. It requires no effort at all to “do nothing.” It is the easiest thing in the world to do. Poverty is easy to come by.
Do nothing! Be lazy! Don’t work! Poverty will come. It requires effort to get a job, get up and go to work, and do a good job. It requires effort for anything worthwhile in our lives. Think about the satisfaction of the end results. This would be your goal, just like a new car might be a financial goal.
My heart goes out to all the people who have grown up without a stable, steady home life, families who never sat down for a meal together, who have not been trained to eat properly, who have been allowed to eat whenever or whatever they desire, and people who had to grow up fending for themselves. It will take great effort to change. If you do not change, the same habits will be given to your children.
You will have to educate yourselves and train your children to eat good foods. It will require diligence to enjoy better health, have more energy, and have a happy appetite. Think about less dental and doctor bills, time in waiting rooms, and tending to sick people. What do you have to lose, but trouble?
Why do you choose the foods you eat? Is it for the flavor, habit, tradition, social pressure, availability, limited finances, or because you need them. Only one has to do with health. Eating is important to health. It is not just to please our taste buds. I had to change the way I thought about foods. You cannot change by saying, “I can’t eat that!” You change by asking yourself, “What do I need to eat today? I have been through the training procedure, and it works. Now I prefer good foods. It doesn’t mean that you can never have a favor, but use balance.
Sam Walton was quoted as saying he would give all of his wealth to be healthy. Too late to change! Neglect of health shows up—one day! When you do your very best, living healthy can be difficult. If you have a great desire to lower your weight, you have a lot going for you. What we weigh is important. Overweight or underweight are two different problems. I was underweight when I was younger and I had to discover the underlying problem. Before a person can change his lifestyle, he must see the root cause of the problem. Food is not the real problem, therefore dieting does not work. It is a roller-coaster ride. What then, is the answer? The root cause is usually inside a person. Many things must be taken into consideration. The thyroid can be a problem, fear, worry, loneliness, boredom, and self-centeredness. Personal counseling may be needed.
I do not claim to know everything about dealing with weight, but I do know how to help people change eating habits, lifestyle, find foods, and good recipes; I have done these things for myself. However, no one can help a half-hearted person do anything. One who will not commit. This kind of person is unstable and undisciplined in many areas of his life. Self-discipline and determination are strong character traits. “Do what you feel like” seems to be the motto of our day. Sow wild oats, and pray for a crop failure.
However, if a person starts telling me, “I don’t like this or that,” I am dealing with a person who lives by his appetites. If a person is willing to take instruction, it does not take long to help him. At first it is painful; the appetite will demand its own way. The eyes are focused on food—the media sees to that. It appeals to our unbridled appetites. But, with proper instruction, changing can be accomplished with less pain.
Why do “health foods taste bad?” is a question I was asked. The question is, “What do you call healthy foods?” Do you mean salads without dressing, vegetable sticks, low fat cottage cheese, and no seasonings? It is a good question, because the medical world tells people that they have to eat this way, because of “fear.” No one would enjoy this stuff. I can fix the best healthy meal, and rarely do I find a person who does not like it—healthy foods are not tasteless! Now, there are some “wild” ideas, some real health nuts out there, but I’m talking about that. Whole foods are delicious! I demonstrated a healthy breakfast at a nearby church, and the ladies were impressed with how simple and good it was.
I used to be called a “health nut.” If I am some kind of nut, then so were the early ancestors. This did not bother me, because I knew how I once felt and how I was feeling now. I was over-coming arthritis, female, and digestive problems, so why should I allow what they think stop me. I already knew they were uninformed. I believe it makes people angry when you are doing something they are unable to do.
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