Weight gain as we age seems inevitable, and unless we change some of our habits, it may be. Eat healthy and exercise are the mantras we keep hearing, but really, it's all about the food, isn't it? As we often struggle with what to eat in a day, we often forget that it might be easier to decide what NOT to eat.
To the rescue comes the New England Journal of Medicine, the bible to many on anything having to do with health, and nowadays, the place to go for information on this country's increasing obesity numbers.
The new report, based on information from more than 120,000 people involved in three different studies over twenty years, found that there are some food culprits which are more dangerous to the scale than others.
Over a period of about 20 years, it was determined that participants in the studies put on weight based on particular foods they were consuming to the tune of 17 pounds each, almost a pound a year. Trying to take off that weight after it's been gained can be daunting, and darn near impossible for most of us.
So if you would like to prevent the almost-guaranteed weight gain over the next years it would be a good idea to avoid (drum roll):
Potato chips. Surely this is the perfect combination of fat and salt. They go down easy and often you've eaten a bag before you realize what you have done.
Potatoes: French fires are the main offender here, with a large serving containing 500 to 600 calories. Eat your potatoes baked and you will save a load of calories.
Soda: Drinking soda, or pop as we call it here, can add one pound over four years, although I wonder if it's not more than that. I know people who have cut out their favorite Carmel-colored beverage and taken off a lot of weight as a result of that one change.
Red meat: Again, with such a high fat count, meat can add calories fairly quickly.
Exercise, which does a myriad of positive things for us, has been shown to not be as important to weight control as diet is, according to the report. (Exercise accounted for only a two pound weight loss over each four year period for the participants.) But study results also found that if you watch an hour of TV a day, you will probably gain weight, about one-third of a pound over a four years. And if you are sipping an alcoholic drink while watching TV, your weight gain over time will also increase.
Bottom line: Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Cut back on potatoes, red meat, sweets and soda.
Armed with this information, we can avoid those foods which practically ensure that we will gain weight over time. Instead of watching TV, do some exercise, sleep between 6 and 8 hours a night, and the status quo will be ours.
Simple, huh? If only.
By Teresa K. Flatley