So, I already whined about just how heavy a lot of Americans are. And I whined a bit about the responsibility we each have for our own weight loss.
Now let’s talk about what I call the real villain in this battle of the bulge.
Follow the Money
This is America. If you can make money off it, no matter what the cost to other people, other businesses and even other countries, we do. Want some examples?
- When there were no other loopholes to crawl through and the state’s attorney generals finally insisted that big tobacco companies pay up for all the damage they did with their products, didn’t we just export cigarettes to 3rd world countries?
- Didn’t a very large consumer brand deliberately develop and implement a marketing strategy t sell its baby formula to 3rd world countries where the formula needed to re-hydrated with clean water and under sanitary conditions, neither of which existed?
- Isn’t one of the multi-national agri-businesses being allowed to genetically modify basic food crops like corn and wheat and quite possibly adding a deadly bacteria into the mix?
The business of weight is no different.
The Road To The Fat Farm
Companies build brands — supposedly brands we can trust to bring us healthy products or at the very least, products that do no harm. These same companies then create products with ingredients that are cheaper for them, almost always refined and, if you look carefully, almost always contain at least two types of sugar, one of which will be high fructose corn syrup.
Next, these companies develop strategic marketing plans designed to make all of us (and I do mean all of us) reach for their particular corn chip or soda or cereal. And reach for them we do.
According to the CDC, one half of the US population consumes sugary drinks…every day. People drink this dressed up sugar-water even though they know it is linked to Type II diabetes and to cancer.
And we snack…man do we snack. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 100% of us snack. And all that snacking is not helping us with our weight problems. According to a 2011 CNN report, we snack more, now, than we ever did. Americans are eating constantly. The same study showed that the size of the snacks we eat has grown by 12%, right along with our waist lines.
What Really Makes Me Mad
Right behind the companies that make products infused with sugar, refined flours and high fructose corn syrup are the companies hawking easy weight loss. I don’t like brands that market junk food; I hate companies that market diet aids.
But we buy these products, too. In 2010, revenues for companies selling weight loss products was $60.9 billion dollars.
And according to the FDA, these weight loss pills and potions don’t meet any of their promises. Worse yet, the FDA says they often contain dangerous prescription drugs that can cause real health problems like stroke or heart attack. Anybody old enough to remember Fen Phen? It worked, if it didn’t kill you first.
How To Lose Weight
So, I’ll go back to my original premise, the one I posted about first, the one learned because my husband has Type II diabetes and we both ended up on his diet.
- Stop eating all the time. Did you now it only takes 100 extra calories a day to gain about a pound a month? Or to put it more positively, as the American Diabetes Association ways, Did you know that it only takes 100 extra calories a day to gain a pound a month?
- Stop eating snacks that contain high fructose corn syrup, refined flour and sugar.
- Read labels! There is sugar in everything and usually in 3 or 4 and sometimes 5 different names are used in the ingredient list including just plain sugar to corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey (yep, it’s good for you but it’s still sugar). In fact, Harvard has a published list of all the variations on a theme of sugar so you know exactly what you are eating when the label says maltose or crystalline fructose. Yep, that’s right, they’re both sugar.
- Stop drinking soda! If you can give one thing up, give this up. But if you have to drink carbonated brown water, go for diet. At least you won’t be pouring white sugar down your throat.
- Cut down your portions. It is not hard. Just start measuring so you know what a cup really looks like. You’ll be surprised.
- Learn what foods are good for you and instead of having 3 cups of sugar-coated cereal, have oatmeal with a bit of almond butter or peanut butter.
- Eat fresh and eat local – support your neighbors and get the freshest, best foods for you without supporting an Israeli or California grower who ships thousands of miles and uses some pretty fancy tricks to preserve produce so it can do so.
- Start walking or riding a bike or dancing, skating, even jumping rope. You may find out that you like it…and your joints and organs will thank you.
I know it’s hard to think about and even harder to do. It was for me. I wanted to lose weight the easy way. But when my husband got a life-threatening illness, I decided it was time to take the plunge, change my eating habits, clean up what I cook and how and start enjoying the very healthy way of life that we both, now lead.
Give it a try. You might find out that it costs less, feels better and, in the long run, improves your life immeasurably.