According to statistics, weight issues reliably rank at the top of all New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, of those who want to do better in that department, less than 10 percent will succeed. Long-lasting improvements are even more elusive. So why even bother, you might ask. The short answer is, because it can be done if done right.
Watching television while eating is a common phenomenon in our culture. Millions of people are so hooked, they seem unable to wean themselves off the tube even for a limited amount of time, such as the duration of a sit-down meal. And it is not just the after hours routine that’s disconcerting. Staying fixated on computers or smart phones practically all day long is commonplace for many. As a result, distracted eating has become the norm rather than the exception.
For many people, weight gain during the holidays is a foregone conclusion. Resolutions to do better this time are largely destined for failure, no matter how seriously they are taken. In the end, the countless temptations offered at office parties and family gatherings prove as irresistible as always, obliterating all good intentions. The cause is not only the availability of large amounts of food, much of it high in fat and sugar, but also the fact that cold and wet weather keeps people inside and devoid of exercise. Eat more, move less – it’s a double-whammy with predictable outcome.
Should carrying extra weight be judged as a matter of personal failure? Considering the fact that two thirds of Americans are now diagnosed as overweight and one third as obese, it feels strange that there should be any prejudices against body fat. And yet, stigmatizing heavyset people is more common and seemingly acceptable than any other form of discrimination left on the planet.
When nutrition professionals talk about “befriending food,” they usually do so in the context of eating disorders. They point out the importance of not seeing “food as the enemy,” as one well-known author put it, or “making peace with food,” as others have counseled. For me – also a nutrition expert – it’s a much simpler proposition. Loving food is to understand what it does, how it nourishes us, and also to appreciate what it takes to make good food available.
Health and wellness is on the mind of an ever-growing part of the populace, at least some of the time. But as consumers, people are still widely confused about how to make the right diet- and lifestyle choices to reach their desired goals.
Being slim is the unquestioned standard of beauty and health set by the media and respective industries. It is also a cause for widespread body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and low self-esteem that often develop in childhood and affect people of all ages, especially women. Studies have shown that being considered overweight by oneself or others can lead to an array of emotional disturbances, including clinical depression. These effects likely worsen when contrary body images are idealized.