“Just 1 cup before bedtime,” the text message said. “Take off your huge stomach.”
I read it to my daughter.
“Your stomach isn’t huge,” she responded teasingly.
I’m not sure I liked her emphasis on “huge.”
At least she didn’t restate the message to say “massive” or “colossal” or anything like that.
“Don’t click on the message!” she added.
“I kind of figured that out,” I said.
I thought I didn’t click on it, anyway. I keep getting annoying messages from different numbers almost daily.
One promised that you could “lose 43 pounds in two weeks.” Another text promised that the recipient could “drop from a size 3X to small in 7 weeks.”
We have arrived at the time when weight loss ads will be flying at us in all directions. I was not expecting them to arrive on my personal cellphone.
We don’t promote miracles in the field of nutrition. We want people to follow nutrition and health guidance based on best practices and research.
Seeking the easy path in nutrition or any part of our lives is tempting. The easy road is not always the best path, however. Weight management or weight loss usually takes some effort on our part.
Being overweight based on our medical care provider’s assessment does put us at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and joint issues, among other conditions.
What can we learn from people who have successfully lost weight and maintained it? I looked at the results of a 25-year study that has tracked more than 10,000 people who lost weight and kept it off for a long time. Their information is tracked on the National Weight Control Registry.
The participants had lost between 30 and 300 pounds and some had kept the weight off for one year to 66 years. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
They didn’t use any fancy potions or information from a text message. Almost all (98%) modified their food intake to lose weight and the vast majority (94%) increased their physical activity. Walking was the most popular activity.
They followed some basic “good habits” to cut calories and maintain their energy.
- Most (90%) of the registry members exercised about an hour a day.
- Most (78%) ate breakfast every day.
- Most (75%) weighed themselves one or more times a week.
- The majority (62%) of those successful at losing weight spent less than 10 hours watching TV per week.
As we enter a time of sampling tasty goodies, keep in mind that small “tastes” can add up to lots of calories eaten. I adapted this scenario from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. I think it shows how quickly you can consume extra calories.
- Taste 1: You had a piece of peanut brittle that someone brought for treats at work. (80 calories)
- Taste 2: Someone else brought chocolate-covered cherries to work, so you had a couple (because they are fruit, right?) (60 calories)
- Taste 3: You baked cookies and one broke. You ate a piece. (30 calories)
- Taste 4: You were thirsty and had a half-cup of old-fashioned eggnog before your guests arrived for dinner. (200 calories)
- Taste 5: Only a couple of tablespoons of candied sweet potatoes were left in the bowl, so you decided to eat them. (60 calories)
That adds up to 430 calories of “tiny tastes.” Just 100 extra calories per day can lead to a 10-pound weight gain in one year.
Enjoy the flavors of the holiday season. Slow down and focus on the goodies you are consuming. Enjoy the aroma, texture and flavor.
Instead of a recipe, this week I invite you to use your creativity to create flavored water that is refreshing but has few calories.
Start with clean hands, containers, cutting boards and knives. Rinse fruit and herbs thoroughly.
Try one of these flavor add-ins:
Option 1. Citrus water: 1/2 cup sliced oranges, lemons or grapefruit plus 2 quarts water
Option 2. Strawberry kiwi water: Three sliced strawberries plus one peeled, sliced kiwi plus 2 quarts water
Option 3. Watermelon rosemary water: 2 cups seedless watermelon (cut in chunks or balls) plus one sprig of rosemary plus 2 quarts water
Option 4. Raspberry lime water: 20 crushed raspberries plus two sliced limes (without rind) plus 2 quarts water
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Don’t mix batches. Use up the batch, clean the container and make a new batch.
(Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.)