Have you ever asked yourself, “How did I get ‘this big'”? I did. Lots of times. I asked myself how I had made it to 252+lbs, and I wanted to know how and when did it happen! Was I aware it was happening? It certainly felt like I just woke up one day and I was suddenly heavier, less mobile and had outgrown my favorite clothes.

I heard Kirsty Alley say in an interview years ago say that she felt that one day she simply woke up at her heavier weight, so I knew I wasn’t alone. Although it feels like we suddenly woke up in a different body at some point, we know that weight gain doesn’t occur overnight. At least, not an extra 100lbs! The question is, how did it happen?

I have found several answers to this question, but let’s start with the elephant in the room: snacking.

A 20% increase in snacking?

Studies reveal that there has been a 24% increase in snacking when comparing the late 70s to the mid-90s, and the shift seems to have been toward saltier snacks, such as potato chips. (I certainly recall not being able to eat just one potato chip!) However, snacks haven’t been the only items that have increased in consumption – sweetened beverages have as well, which often contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and its derivatives.

Snacks

Dr. Lustig has certainly been vocal regarding fructose. He speaks to how its intermediary metabolites can lead to insulin resistance in the liver, overwhelming its capacity when glycogen stores are full. Insulin resistance is also a massive promoter of chronic disease.

And get this: if you were wondering why you seem to be aging faster than other women who eat healthier, it’s not all in your head. Insulin resistance can make you age faster!

Additionally, high fructose corn syrup also keeps you coming back for more because it affects the brain’s reward system (think “this feels good!”). And given many of us spend less time dedicated to physical activity, we cannot afford the “extra” calories.

Is tech for us, or Against Us?

The short answer is it’s probably how you use it but I digress. The truth is that technology is neutral. You can use it to compare yourself to others and feel bad about where you are, or you can use it to be more efficient, track things, find recipes and connect with community. There are so many apps that have recipes and or help us track caloric data, yet many folks tend to dine out for convenience.

Let’s face it: almost no one is thinking about your healthy weight but you! If you aren’t planning your nutrition intake, someone else will!

That said, we get caught up in the belief that we don’t have time to plan what we will eat for the next day at work, let alone the entire week. And I get it. I didn’t either, so I would eat what was available in the cafeteria – and it was fairly expensive (and it was NOT tasty!).

Don’t be lured by the $1 menu

There is no shortage of fast food restaurants waiting to serve you and tempt you with the .99 or $1 menu, while begging to be super-sized. And then there’s Happy Hour with co-workers. Reduced-price appetizers and $3 draft beer with other specials. Yep. Even after losing 75+lbs, I recall going to gatherings with women and they were always centered around food! It wasn’t always easy to choose the tuna when everyone else was eating fried-everything!

fast food

The “healthy” trap

There are sandwich shops everywhere, which often creates the mental picture of “healthy”, even though a sandwich may have the same amount of calories as a hamburger. It’s not to say that one cannot choose “healthy” items from the menu, but seriously, do you?!

Trust me, I am not judging! Way back in the past, I frequented the Olive Garden and I can never say that I chose the “plain” grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. After all, who wants grilled chicken when you can bathe your palate in creamy fettuccine?! The old me would say “Yes, please!” I am not saying that you should NEVER dine out, but every day can’t be Thanksgiving Day!

Generally, we know that restaurant food is calorie dense, even the “healthy” options. Those healthy items may be available to us when dining out, but I have never associated dining out with “healthy” options, which is likely a reason why I don’t dine out frequently now. Not only that, but I have learned to cook delicious meals, so I often end up disappointed with the not-so-flavorful steak dinner (I can cook a mean steak!). Ahem, I asked for medium, not well-done!

Don’t Con Yourself

In case you were thinking that splitting your lunch or dinner with someone else is the answer, you might be surprised if you actually knew the caloric content of the entire meal. Don’t get me wrong, splitting is certainly better than not splitting the meal! But if the dish totals 3500 calories, half of that total is still a lot of energy in one sitting!

I have heard people say, “We order that chicken dish with the pasta and alfredo, and split it.” And what about the three baskets of bread on the side with butter? And the dipping sauces that get refilled? Those aren’t calorie-free. And what about six glasses of sweet tea? (Ya’ll know I’m from the South!)

Some of these may be your current habits and some may not be. I feel you and I have been there. Like many of us, I had developed a taste for highly palatable food (i.e., sugar and fat combinations). I had decided that my own cooking would never be as good as what I could order elsewhere. (That belief was one I had to address if my goal was complete health.)

Commit to the Change

It wasn’t easy to implement changes starting in 2014, but I was so committed to my nutrition plan that I would have done nearly anything to make it work.

Here’s the thing – I got curious. I asked questions and searched the science for answers. Have I found all of the answers? No, but come to my house for dinner and I will prepare a juicy steak you will not soon forget, accompanied with my own version of a delicious pasta (shirataki noodles) topped with gorgonzola and kalamata olives. If you are lucky, I may even plate a delectable slice of my homemade cheesecake for dessert.

It’s all about priorities, and it’s more fun to look at things from a point of curiosity. Commit to making a difference in your life, and you don’t have to go it alone! I am right beside you, cheering you on!

commit to change
  • Crawford D, Jeffery RW, Ball K, Brug J. Obesity Epidemiology: From Aetiology to Public Health. 2nd ed. Overweight Population Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press; 2010.
  • Lustig R. Fructose: It’s “Alcohol Without the Buzz”. Adv. Nutr. 2013(4):226–235.doi:10.3945/an.112.0029983.
  • EurekAlert: The Global Source for Science News. You’re likely to order more calories at a ‘healthy’restaurant. University of Chicago Press Journals. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/uocp-ylt082907.php. Published August 29, 2007

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