Is diet and exercise enough to stop us gaining weight? This is the question that Dr Berit Heitmann, obesity researcher from the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, presented to us at a talk she recently gave in Sydney. And her short answer? No.
Having looked at all the studies to date including two Cochrane reviews she found that on average these diet/exercise interventions helped people to eat more healthy food and do more activity but had little or no effect on weight. So what else could it be?
“This year I’m going to lose weight.” It would have to be one of the top New Year’s resolutions – and it should be banned! Just the thought that tomorrow you can’t have dessert, chocolate or whatever happens to be your particular weakness is sure to ruin any New Year celebration. And if you are anything like me, thinking you are not allowed something only makes you want it more!
I call it the DIG cycle. You Deprive yourself of the ‘naughty’ foods which leads to obsessing so much about them that you finally Indulge. Even as the first forbidden mouthful passes your lips, Guilt sets in and you resolve to Deprive yourself again.
So how can we lose or control our weight without becoming caught in the DIG cycle? Here are my top ten tips…
How long will you lie there you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber…and poverty will come on you like a bandit. Proverbs 6:9-11
Most cultures have wise sayings about the negative result of being lazy or sleeping too much. But in today’s culture we seem to have the opposite problem – not enough sleep. Stress, computers, television, long work hours and burning the candle at both ends are just some of the habits that steal our sleep – and it’s making us fat.
Sleep is not optional, it’s essential to good health. While we sleep our body releases substances that fight infection, build and repair muscle, control appetite, consolidate memory (remember this if you are studying) and promote maturation in teenagers.
Lack of sleep makes our body work differently. It reduces insulin sensitivity and alters two key hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin reduces hunger so it’s good to have plenty around. But lack of sleep, especially when combined with stress, drops those appetite suppressing leptin levels.
“I don’t know what’s happened but all I want to eat each afternoon is peanut butter on a slice of grain bread,” my friend commented this week.
No, she’s not pregnant. But she has started a new job and hardly eats all day. No wonder her body is hanging out for a super combo of carbs, protein and healthy monounsaturated fat. That’s what you get in a peanut butter sandwich along with 1.5 grams of fibre per tablespoon of peanut butter. Spread it on wholemeal or grainy bread and the fibre could reach 5 or 6 grams – enough to tide a busy working mum through the hectic 4-6pm dinner rush.
It got me thinking about peanuts.