The fallen leaves and corn husks on Philadelphia stoops serve as a reminder that the wonderful day is coming. On that day, we will temporarily erase any memory of those fad diets and gorge ourselves with dense, delicious food.
Our bulging bellies will make the buttons on our pants dangerous, as they threaten to burst off and blind someone. Then we will pass out on the couch and dream of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. When we wake up, we’ll be at the fridge ready to do it all over again.
This might be typical on Thanksgiving Day, but if you find this to be an everyday occurrence, you should probably consider changing your diet.
In America, we have the luxury of being able to have a holiday dedicated to overeating. We are a rich nation, and we are able to produce massive amounts of food. We also consume too much food because 127 million adults in the United States are overweight (the population of America is 290 million), 60 million are obese and 9 million are severely obese, according to the American Obesity Association Web site. These alarming statistics can be attributed to many factors.
The human species is an animal. Like all organic creatures big and small, we have to absorb nutrients to survive. If you are wandering around campus skipping class one day, watch the squirrels forage for food. They’re quite nutty about nuts. If the squirrel finds a nut, it tears at it ravenously. In fact, if you come between the tree rat and its food, it might kill you.
If we didn’t have things like cars, refrigerators and microwave dinners, we would be on the ground with those squirrels eating a little bit of food as we searched throughout the day. In other words, since society has modernized, it has allowed us to spend more time doing more sedentary activities and less physical ones. We’re not hunter-gatherers anymore-we’re sitters-on-the-couch. We actually have to find time to exercise and burn off a meal of 700 calories, while that squirrel is burning calories just looking for one single acorn. Modernization has led to an abundance of food (particularly high caloric intake) and a decrease in overall physical activity, contributing to increased rates of obesity, according to the AOA Web site.
As college students we are confronted with fattening, sugary foods every day. It’s very difficult to eat healthy in college, and it’s very easy to gain weight (you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “freshman 15” by now).
When you’re faced with rows of assorted fried matter, bagels, pizza and ice cream, those lonely baskets of fruit are easy to ignore.
You’re apt to choose the things that are tasty and filling, especially after a particularly stressful day. Making food choices on campus is difficult, especially when you’re surrounded by buffet-style meal options.
Did you notice that over the past couple of years, bags of chips have gotten bigger? And when you’re at a restaurant, you are served heaping plates of food that could feed a small country?
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Web site, that’s because portion size has increased. People may be eating more during a meal or snack because of larger portion sizes.
This results in increased calorie consumption. If the body does not burn off the extra calories consumed from larger portions, fast food, or soft drinks, weight gain can occur, according to the Web site.
That’s not to say colleges don’t offer healthy alternatives. Hidden somewhere among the delectable foods are things like salad, fruit, low-carb items and water. While you’re sitting in class and your stomach growls are causing the desk to vibrate, the last thing you want is a big bowl of greens to fill you up. When you’re running from class to class, it’s easy to forget to eat.
Then you get really hungry and you end up eating more than you should later on. A good way to combat this bad habit is to bring along a bag lunch and munch on it throughout the day (remember elementary school?).
Pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bag of cereal, both of which can be quite filling and will help fight off the urge to eat more calories later on.
So while messages of the Atkin’s diet and miracle weight loss pills swim in your mind, remember that no matter what new cure is out there, it’s easy to forget the two things that help you maintain a healthy weight: diet and exercise. Skip studying for IH (because no one studies for IH), grab a friend and jump on a treadmill-or just jump. Put on some 80s music and jump around your room.
You don’t have to forgo pizza and eat bags of grain for the rest of your life to lose weight. If you just make time for a little exercise and watch your caloric intake, you can still enjoy fun foods now without having to consider gastric bypass surgery later on.
Ellen Minsavage can be reached at email@example.com.