Healthy Eating Patterns Can Help Prevent Obesity

The term Eating Patterns would loosely refer to the established routine and occasions of eating. Apart from being individual centric this concept would bear a heavy correlation to one’s age, sex, socioeconomic status, culture and family background. 60 million Americans, 20 years or older are obese. It is time to own responsibility and protect the young from this epidemic.
Let us explore some of the established key eating patterns and how they go a long way in molding healthy eating habits in young children and adolescents:

  • Consumption of breakfast : Eating a wholesome breakfast can give a buoyant start to the day and help reach weight loss goals. It is the most important meal of the day and can go a long way in providing energy for the most part of the day and controlling cravings. NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey conducted on 5500 students between the age of 5 and 16 studied the pattern of consumption of breakfast between boys and girls. It was found that the practice of eating breakfast was more in boys than girls and went down with increasing age.

    Rural children were more consistent in eating breakfast than urban kids. Kids in families with higher socioeconomic status showed more wholesome consumption of breakfasts. Understandably, female obesity rates have gone up faster than male obesity rates. In the year 2007 – 2008, 35.5 % women were obese compared to 32.2 % men.

  • Family Eating Patterns and Habits : A sit down meal time with the family has been clearly associated with consumption of healthier foods (home cooked low fat nutritious meals) and reduced consumption of premade junk food. The above mentioned study showed no significant differences between both the sexes when it came to family meal times. Students between the ages of 6 to 10 reported eating dinner at least 4 times a week with family. The incidence was even higher among rural children.

    Culturally, students with an eastern and middle eastern background were more persistent about having meals with the family. However, there was a drop in the figure when it came to girls above 10 years of age. Conclusively, the study found that students having at least four meals with the family per week were lowest among obese families.

  • Eating Dinner in front of the television : In this case, mind over matter takes over. The mind is definitely not in the food. Eating dinner in front of the television inhibits portion control and lays the foundation for mindless eating. According to the study, boys showed a higher incidence of participating in this vice than girls. Eating and savoring a meal just by itself inculcates proper nutritional assimilation in the years to come.

  • Snacking in between meals : A very ineffective snacking plan is often traced to obesity in most morbidly overweight individuals. Other than proper meals, the persistent consumption of chips, cookies, pop corns, sodas and other high fat snacks are often a part and parcel of bad eating habits. It is very important to establish proper snacking habits in young children in order to prevent obesity. The snack consumption went up with increasing age in both boys and girls.

    However, young children often go through growth spurts, puberty and increasingly engage in physically demanding sports. In this situation, their bodies are most likely to demand frequent snacking in between meals. Thus, it was well accepted by nutritionists that a total of 5 snacks throughout the day would not be unreasonable. The snacks should be high in nutrients and low in fat.

  • Fast food Consumption Habits : Cafeterias selling fast food are very often the coolest place to hang in among adolescent boys and girls. The associated increased consumption of these low in nutrients and high in fat food often onsets the development of obese individuals. Young children are gullible enough to fall for the quick fix and tasty fast food solutions. They become increasingly unaware and less appreciative of the healthier eating options and choices like that of vegetables and fruits.

    A common trend of fast food joints is to up size the order. They would often offer a combination of food items for a discounted price. It is a trap youngsters fall into not realizing the additional amount of calories consumed in the process.

Hence, eating patterns are to be consciously cultivated among small and young children to help them make the right choices when it comes to food and stay away forever from the curse named “Obesity”.

How can you develop a healthy eating patten that can make you lose weight?

  • In order to lose weight, reduce saturated fats and red meat from your diet. Use them occasionally such as twice a week. Saturated fats are hidden in whole milk, dairy products,butter and all types of baked foods. In order to avoid saturated fats you can read the food labels before buying them. Look for the fat and total calories content.
  • There is unsaturated fat and essential fatty acids like the omega 3s and 6s in fish. Try to include fish in your diet at least twice in a week. Have Tuna fish and salmon.People who eat fish regularly, have less coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Another healthy high protein food is poultry without the skin.
  • Increase the consumption of beans, grains, soy and pulses which are rich in proteins. They can very well substitute meat and other poultry meals. Do not consume these latter high protein food everyday. You can have them once in a week.
  • Cereals and whole grains can also be included in a healthy diet.They provide all the minerals and vitamins which is needed for the growth of your body.
  • Consume a lot of fruits and vegetables. Have them at least thrice in a day. Green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins and adds antioxidant value.
  • Along with vegetable diet, include intake of fruit juice . Orange, apple and pear juices are the best juices recommended for your weight loss.

There are a lot of fad diets doing the rounds today which make a lot of tall promises without any scientific basis. These diets do more harm than good. Unhealthy dieting can be the biggest hurdle in anyone’s weight loss journey. Irrational dieting in a desperation to lose weight is also an established eating pattern especially among teenage girls. This does more harm than good.

How does unhealthy dieting harm us?

  • Extreme diets or body cleansing programs which require one to be on a diet of only juices or meal replacement drinks are downright impractical and ineffective. Extreme calorie reduction does a lot of harm to the body. It can cause the metabolism to slow down. As a result, most of the weight loss experienced on the diet will not be sustained. However, there does exist a concept of a very low calorie diet which is administered under medical supervision to mostly morbidly obese individuals to bring down the impact of other obesity related ailments.
  • It can increase the risk of gallbladder stones. A reduction in the quantity of bile and a thickening in its consistency increases the propensity of gallbladder stones.
  • Extreme dieting is unhealthy because it can trigger a feeling of deprivation. One can constant be nutritionally malnourished while on such diets. Women require about 1200 calories and men about 1500 calories on a daily basis to maintain the basic functioning of the body. Depriving this basic nutrition is scientifically not viable. If anybody can eat about 250 calories less from everyday diet and burn another 250 calories through exercise, he can create a deficit of 500 calories every day. 7 days into it his net deficit is 3500 calories. To lose a pound of weight one needs to expend around 3500 calories.
  • Extreme deprivation increases the chances of faltering. It is easy to lose the restraint and indulge in binge eating. Intense hunger gives way to uncontrolled eating where in you end up consuming a lot more calories. One of the golden rules of dieting is never to be too hungry. Eat 5 small meals and 3 snacks throughout the day.
  • Extreme dieting can also lead to muscle loss. Inadequate amounts of protein in the diet can inhibit the process of maintaining and repairing tissues. Protein is also required for a lot of other metabolic processes.
  • Unhealthy dieting could lead to depression. The brain starts releasing less of the feel good chemical serotonin and brings about a feeling of despair. Nausea, fatigue, headaches, lack of energy, dizziness are some of the associated side effects of being on such a diet

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