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Celebrating Independence Day: How about declaring your independence from the food industry?

Posted: Jul 03 in Weight Management Strategies by

On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.  Just as we were able to declare our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, what better time to declare our independence from food?

A recent article in this month’s Bariatritian magazine investigated how our bodies process high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  In fact, the metabolism of HFCS follows the same pathway as, believe it or not, alcohol.  The author suggests that metabolically, HCFS is like "alcohol without the buzz."  As we eat more foods with HCFS we crave more foods with HCFS resulting in our eating far more than we might choose to on our own accord.

How about if we start the summer of 2009 and really commemorate our independence.  Rather than just watching fireworks, why not create some of our own?  I thought I’d share some ways how you can take control of your own destiny, your own body, your own nutrition, and your own weight:

1)  Declare your independence from HCFS:  As much as possible, avoid foods with HCFS.  Watch as it loses its grip over you, your cravings dissappear, your hunger levels subside, your energy levels increase, and you begin losing weight.

2)  Declare your independence from supplements:  If the gas at the gas station stated "gets better gas mileage!" or "better for your car engine" or "helps your car have more horse power!" would you believe it?  Then why believe the hype in the food and supplement industry?  For several years the dairy industry claimed that eating more dairy helped "burn more fat."  Remember all the yogurt containers that said eating yogurt would burn more fat?  This was an unsubstantiated claim.  The entire food and supplement industry is poorly regulated.  I suggest ignoring all of the claims you see printed.  Do your own research – discuss with your doctor or dietitian, and make informed choices.

3)  Declare your independence from restaurants:  have you ever noticed that every time you go out to eat everything on the menu sounds great?  Have you ever noticed that even if you weren’t that hungry, you leave having eaten more than you planned to, stuffed beyond comfort?  Restauranteers know how to get you to spend more money at their establishments.  From the ambiance, the color of the walls, the music that is played, the way the tables are arranged, the wait staff, and even the menus, from the moment you arrive you are being marketed to.  Be a shrewd negotiator – show up having done your research.  Know what you would like to eat before you get to the restaurant and order accordingly.  Skip the appetizers, blue cheese dressings, desserts, and high calorie drinks.  Substitute out high calorie sides or fried items for extra vegetables.  Enjoy eating out your way!

4)  Declare your independence from family and friends:  how often have you gone to a family function and felt peer pressure to taste and eat everything in sight?  Be a leader – host family functions and only serve yummy healthy options.  At family gatherings, refuse to eat the high calorie desserts and sides, but have seconds of the healthy options.  How about a cup of coffee for dessert?  Lead by example – family members and friends will follow suit.

5)  Declare your independence from food.  I saved this for last, because it is most important of all.  In all our years of helping patients with weight management, the declaration of independence from food is the most exciting day for many successful patients.  This is necessary for long term weight control.  We need to decide what we will eat.  Only with careful pre-planning can we loosen the grip food has over us.  If we don’t keep up with our calories during the day, hunger will win over and we will eat everything in sight – the food will have won the battle.  Hunger is a powerful sensation, and if left out of control, it will win the battle over willpower every time.  Instead, plan your day, take control of the fuel your body needs, don’t let yourself get out-of-control hungry, and the battle is yours.

Have a great summer, and I hope it starts with a new-found willpower to be in control!

-Dr. Lazarus

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