A Choice of Remedies
THE determination to lose weight can lead to extremes. In cases of severe overweight, a modern therapy is to wire together the patient’s jaws. In this way a compulsive eater is forced to sustain himself solely by means of fluids.
Even more drastic is an operation to bypass most of the small intestine and part of the large. Nutrients are absorbed through the walls of our intestines. So this action means that food is passed through the body without being assimilated. Fortunately, this operation is usually reversible. Even so, it carries with it a mortality rate of 5 percent.
Drugs and Slimming Pills
Immediately following World War II, amphetamines were used extensively to check appetite. But the picture changed dramatically. A Working Party set up by the British Medical Association in 1967 reported: “These drugs should be avoided so far as possible in treatment of obesity.” Why? Because amphetamine drugs can lead to serious addiction and they often have harmful side effects.
In more recent years drugs known generally as “anoretics” have been developed. But many individuals have been bitterly disappointed with them. They are advertised as a means of increasing the tissues’ utilization of glucose, leading to less fat being deposited. Are they effective? A British physician, Dr. Michael Spira, reports: “The evidence that this actually happens does not appear very convincing.”
What about “slimming pills”? Some drugs mentioned above come into this category. Also, the market is flooded with pills of all sorts and sizes containing things such as gland extracts, vitamins, methyl cellulose, hormones—or simply just laxatives! The choice of pills is wide indeed, but the proved effectiveness for general treatment in weight reduction is much in question.
Does the answer to weight reduction lie in exercise? Yes, to an extent. After all, we live in a labour-saving world. Normal expenditure of energy in such routine matters as climbing stairs is often set aside for an elevator. Walking to shops, or even to and from school, is exchanged for a ride. Machines undertake much of the energy expenditure in housework. Similarly, sedentary occupations call for little physical effort. In many lands today, bodies tend to be underused, muscles grow flabby and much of the body’s energy supply turns into fat.
To help restore balance, various ideas hit the market from time to time. Some years back “hula hoops” were the rage for reducing midriff bulge. Rowing and bicycling machines, vibrator massagers and a host of other gadgets using ropes and pulleys are always available for buying or are used in clubs, and health clinics.
A very popular form of exercise today is jogging. However, for an obese person to engage in strenuous exercise can indeed be very dangerous. Even for an active person to push himself at jogging without an adequate buildup is hazardous. For persons not in condition to jog, a vigorous walk can be beneficial—yet face the fact that walking an extra mile a day will result in weight loss of less than one pound (0.45 kg) a month! Obviously, however, exercise does help in reducing weight, since any physical exertion means that calories are being used up rather than being stored in the body as fat.
On the whole, many advocates for various methods of losing weight disagree on vital points. Is there no common factor in the maze of weight-reducing remedies? Yes, there is one.
The Fundamental Issue
“Overweight comes from overeating.” Those four telling words are repeated a number of times in This Slimming Business by John Yudkin, emeritus professor of nutrition, University of London, England. The following table is self-explanatory:
INTAKE OUTPUT RESULT
Food 2,000 Energy 2,000 Constant weight.
(Energy) calories calories
Food 2,000 Energy 2,500 Loss of weight as
(Energy) calories calories body draws on reserves
of fat to meet
Food 2,000 Energy 1,500 Increase of weight
(Energy) calories calories as body deposits
500 surplus calories
in the form of fat.
In all but a tiny percentage of cases, overweight can be solved by regulating food intake. Persons who wish to reduce must consume less calories, either by eating less food or by avoiding high-calorie items such as sweets. If you seek medical advice about a weight problem, chances are that the doctor will recommend some form of diet that will enable you to have an intake of calories commensurate with your expenditure of energy. Initially, though, a stricter form of diet may be needed to bring your weight down to the limits for those of your height, age and build. These figures are readily available from life insurance companies or from diet books or magazines.
There is a great variety of diets. A vegetarian diet obviously will be more expensive (unless you grow your own fruits and vegetables), as will a high-protein one. Bear in mind too that special “diet foods” are usually more costly and of doubtful value, except as temporary food supplements. Beware of any “crash diet” program. Such methods can be very dangerous and lead to serious health problems, such as ulcers.
Some Practical Tips
One way of limiting your intake of food energy is to take note of all that you eat each day, including all snacks between meals. Assess the total caloric content of everything you eat and drink. Train yourself to understand food values and then plan how to cut down systematically each day. There is one danger in this approach. Beware of becoming overly absorbed in the undertaking. It can rob you of time needed for other essential things.
Many find calorie counting far too tedious and soon lose interest. A much simpler means of losing weight is to continue with your normal diet, to enjoy what you eat, but to eat less of it. Instead of three slices of bread, eat two. Take one less potato. Instead of two teaspoons of sugar in your tea or coffee, put just one. If you drink five cups of these beverages each day, that will be a reduction of about 1,000 calories per week—no mean saving! Give special attention to cutting down on calorie intake in the evening, because physical activity is usually limited then. Do not expect spectacular results with this approach. But over a period of time you will lose weight slowly—and that is the best way to do it.
Such an approach to the situation is in harmony with the Bible’s counsel to ‘eat and drink with rejoicing’ but to avoid “overeating and heavy drinking” because of the adverse effects that such abuses produce, not only physically, but in a person’s response to important spiritual matters of life.—Eccl. 9:7; Luke 21:34.
At this point it may be helpful to consider some tips that have proved useful in certain cases. Eat only when you are hungry. Having a light snack instead of a full meal from time to time will do you no harm. Avoid “nibbling” when watching TV, reading or just chatting with friends. Drinking something about half an hour before a meal will take the edge off your appetite and drinking a little with meals will help you to feel full with less food. Thorough chewing brings greater eating satisfaction, and you will find that by so doing you will also eat less. Give yourself time to enjoy meals. Eating slowly can help you to shed excessive fat. Dr. Theodore Van Itallie, a specialist on obesity, said in an interview published in Psychology Today: “The rate of eating may be a factor. There are some people who gobble down their meals very rapidly. Some researchers believe that if you bolt your food, the satiety signals that ultimately tell you it’s time to stop may not have time to go into action.”
Determination and self-control are essential in any progress toward weight reduction. Reading about the problem or consulting doctors is no substitute for personal effort.
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