Obesity, not just people being overweight but obesity, is now a national calamity in America. Sadly, even children are afflicted with this condition and something needs to be done about it. Solving the national dilemma is beyond our scope on this site, but we can see our place in the scheme of things and take steps to rescue ourselves.
Obesity Is Not Just a Personal Problem
Years ago I remember a book titled, Help Lord the Devil Wants Me Fat. Now whether or not you ascribe to the devil this attribute or not, it is clear that the world around us is set up to destroy our health by tempting us with unhealthy food and eating options.
The beginning of getting fit is to understand the nature of the problem. It is largely a matter of not recognizing the factors that lead to our condition. Other factors such as lack of sufficient exercise contribute to it, but without question our eating habits are the primary problem.
It is essential to accept personal responsibility for our own lives, but there is no question that our environment is not conducive to healthy living. In this article I want to explore that fact a bit so we can better cope with it.
Our environment influences our decisions but it does not control them. If we understand the influences we can better cope with them and make intelligent choices that keep us from living with too much weight and a general lack of fitness, even if we are advancing in age.
How Are We Conditioned to Overeat?
It is no surprise that in America one-third of the population is overweight and another third are obese! The foods we eat are simply loaded with calories.
Whether we eat out or at home, it is a challenge to eat what others are eating and not get fat. And obviously it is hard not to be influenced significantly by social norms.
One of the most popular foods in America is Pizza. I checked the nutritional information at one of the more popular restaurants. What I found reveals a lot about our problem.
For several of the largest selling varieties I found that assuming you cut the pizza into twelve pieces (now how many do that!), eating only two pieces (and how many limit themselves to that), the average woman would consume almost all the calories she should eat for a whole day. Drink a regular soft drink or a third piece and she would exceed that number. The average man would do the same with three of these relatively small pieces.
Now if this represented the number of calories we should eat for one meal that would be one thing. But we are talking about the maximum calories for the whole day! And pizza is probably not even the worst food we can eat. There are many fast food sandwiches that include half or more of a day’s calorie allocation. Add a few fries and a coke and you exceed your day’s needed calories easily—all in one meal.
Is Eating at Home any Better?
While it may be easier to control your calories when eating at home, it is just as easy to consume many more calories than the maximum allowed for good health.
Fried chicken is a popular meat. One breast will average 423 calories, all the average woman should have for an entire meal. Two drumsticks with an average 280 calories each would have all the average man should have. Both of these allow no other food for that meal (which would never happen).
An average 4 oz hamburger on a bun will run 400 calories and a serving of fried potatoes nearly 250. If you add a glass of milk or any other food items you are really shooting way past what the average meal can be for anyone without promoting weight gain. Heaven forbid you put a slice of cheese on that burger or any other food item on your plate!
Obviously, the typical foods served in American homes contain too many calories for healthy living. And the biggest problem for anyone wanting to do better is that to do so requires bucking traditional eating patterns.
Fighting Obesity Requires New Lifestyles
Does all this mean fighting fat is hopeless? No, not at all. It just means that if we want to be normal in an abnormal world we will have to eat differently than most other people are eating.
“If we want to be normal in an abnormal world we will have to eat differently than other people are eating.”
The average American diet is not acceptable. If I let others define me as the one who is abnormal and they are normal as far as eating habits are concerned I will lose the battle.
I do not need to argue with others about their eating habits. I just need to think rationally about my own and take a better path for the sake of my own health and well being.
For the most part in this article we have only identified the problem we face in challenging obesity. We will have many occasions to talk about ways to cope with it on this site. Please stay tuned, and if you can, take time to share your insights for coping with obesity.