Seeing as there has been an uproar related to the unfortunate supersized nature of the average Bermudian, I thought I’d share some of the insights I’ve gained with regards to nutrition. Now, of course I’m no dietician so take my words with a grain of salt (or none if you concerned about your blood pressure).
Losing or gaining weight comes down to a very basic principle: Pay attention to what you put in your mouth. The core tricks to understanding the basics of managing your weight are to remember what you put in your mouth, figure out how much you need and recognize how that impacts you.
What you put in your mouth counts for everything because your body has 3 means of dealing with it. It can burn the energy, store it or pass it out your rear. Unfortunately, very few things fall into the latter category so you’ve got to focus on what your body burns and stores.
That cookie you ate as a snack? Yes it does matter. As with everything else you eat in a day. The first step is to mentally note everything you put in your mouth so that you can remember it later. Mental notes are the best way to encourage yourself to pay attention to what you eat. If you can mentally recall everything you ate in a day before going to sleep, it helps encourage you to pay attention to what you put in your mouth tomorrow and builds long term awareness. Once you know what you put in your mouth, you can start comparing how much you’re supposed to be eating vs. how much you actually are.
No doubt you’ve heard a great deal about the wondrous “calorie” but may be oblivious to what the word actually means. In the simplest of definitions, a calorie is nothing more than a description of how much energy is in what you eat. In order to simple maintain your current weight (assuming your the “average” person), you will need to consume about 2000 calories worth of energy a day. Generally, this can be more or less depending on your sex, your size, your metabolism and the amount of exercise you partake in each day, but for today’s efforts, lets keep it simple and say 2000.
Once you know how many calories you’re supposed to be having, you can start paying attention to those helpful labels found on most foods today.
Here’s an example:
Note the red star next to “Calories 190”. This particular label, one for hazel nuts, tells you that if you wanted to survive on a diet of hazel nuts alone (though not recommended), you’d have to eat about 262 of them each day. Very basically, if you ate 300 of them each day, you’d gain weight, if you ate 200 of them each day, you’d lose weight. Again, the “hazel nut diet” is not recommended as the next diet fad because while you’d lose weight, your body would deteriorate due to malnutrition. Same goes for not eating eating enough because your body doesn’t react well to it. A proper balance of consuming everything your body needs is essential to healthy living, but outside the scope of this piece.
Let’s assume for argument’s sake that you love hazel nuts so much, they’re all you eat. If today you ended up eating 300 of them, that’d be the equivalent of eating almost 2300 calories. 300 more than the 2000 your body can burn off as energy.
Why should you care? 300 calories doesn’t seem like all that much and it’s only 38 more hazel nuts and because you love hazel nuts so much it shouldn’t really matter, should it? The core problem is that those extra 300 calories don’t fall into the category of energy your body will burn and they certainly won’t end up coming out your rear so the only likely alternative is that your body will make like a squirrel and store those nuts for later.
When your body stores those nuts, it does so by converting the energy in them into fat. This is where understanding how much energy is in what you eat is critical because your body can store 3000 calories worth of energy in a pound of fat. That means, if you overindulged in your diet of hazel nuts for 10 days, you’d find yourself one pound heavier. Just as if you under-indulged by 38 hazel nuts (300 calories) each day for 10 days, your body would have to burn a pound of stored fat to maintain. Healthy weight loss involves moderate under-indulgence for long periods of time.
The core tricks to understanding the basics of weight gain and loss are to pay attention to what you put in your mouth, look at the labels on foods so you can understand how much to put in your mouth and recognize what your body does with it.