Moderation: Can dieting really be that simple?

Moderation is key

Well, we have made it through another Thanksgiving holiday, but how many of us used the appropriate amount of self-control and chose not to overeat?  

More importantly, as we move into the holiday season, how do we escape the ubiquitous temptations to sample all the wonderful treats that abound this time of year? I am certainly not immune to these temptations and would never presume to be an expert on nutrition. (I will leave that to Kathy Wehrle, RD, Community Outreach Dietitian at Parkview Health. See her blog for great dietary information.) As someone with an insatiable sweet tooth (I can’t help it - it's genetic, passed on from my father), I have never found something sweet that I did not fancy. In fact, I have never encountered something that is "too sweet" for my indiscriminant palate. 

So how are we to escape another season of gluttony without adding those extra unwanted pounds? For this, I return to my constant mantra: small changes over time can reap huge benefits or terrible consequences. 

Question: How many extra calories per day must a 40-year-old man eat to be 100 pounds overweight within a year’s time? Imagine a healthy 40-year-old gentleman who should weigh approximately 180 pounds, but currently weighs 280 pounds. Plus, he has all the illnesses associated with obesity: diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and many more possibilities. How did he get to this point in his life? How many extra calories per day did he ingest to find himself in this quagmire?

Answer: Amazingly, a mere 25 extra calories per day – calories he failed to "burn off" – has resulted in a 40-year-old man who will likely not see his 50th birthday without some serious health issue cropping up. To put this in perspective, this is an extra apple a day that the man has eaten but failed to exercise off!

I am a firm believer that despite all the best-selling books on the topic, it is not what we are eating that is making us fat but how much we are eating that is the culprit. The simple problem with this theory – that we’re eating too much – is that the idea just doesn't sell books! Who wants a book to tell you to decrease the amount you eat and increase the amount you move?

Point of fact: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study of all the fad diets and found that every one of them resulted in weight loss, albeit temporary weight loss, and the reason for said weight loss – wait for it – caloric restriction! Yes, despite all the so-called science contained in the pages of these best sellers, it turns out that simple dietary moderation – caloric restriction – is the real reason for the successful weight loss touted by these books.

So how does one escape these upcoming holidays, or any day for that matter, without gaining those unwanted pounds when the numbers are so stacked against us?

In a word, moderation.

So go ahead and enjoy that piece of pie for dessert, just don't eat the entire pie, and go for a walk after the holiday meal to burn off those extra calories. Can it really be that simple? I believe it can. Check back soon for future installments of this blog. I hope to prove it to any "unbelievers." 

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season and remember moderation is the word for the day, for the season, and for life.






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