By Paul Scicluna
Globally, at least 2.8 million people are dying each year from being overweight or obese. Alarming, isn’t it. And, it’s shocking that organisations are producing fat laden and unhealthy foods, and promoting them for profits. Don’t succumb to harmful and unwholesome foods. Don’t become a statistic or worse, have your children become a statistic. Movement is so important as well. Many families are neglecting exercise, which is important in keeping the whole family fit and healthy.
These 10 simple 'secrets' can help you change your family's lifestyle so that you can all become fit and healthy.
1) Eat Whole Foods
Processed and refined grains such as bread, rice, cereal, pasta, pastries and other foods made with white flour have a high glycemic index, low amounts of fibre, and lack vitamins and minerals. Make the switch to whole foods. Whole foods are complete, meaning they haven’t been processed or refined. Whole foods do not contain added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, food dyes, flavours, artificial ingredients, fillers and so forth. Examples of whole foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains, seeds and eggs. Do yourself and your family a favour and eat more whole foods and watch your family’s health and vitality return.
2) Limit Soft Drinks and Sodas
Soft drinks and sodas are nutritionally dead and contain plenty of calories. At about 150 calories per 340 ml serving (12oz), your kids will gain an extra 1/2 kilogram (1lb) about every 3 weeks if they drink just one can of soft drink each day. Eliminate soft drinks and sodas so you and your family don’t pack on the calories. Plus, you’ll be healthier for it.
Sodium benzoate is one of the main preservatives in soft drinks as well as many other things. It has been the subject of concern about cancer for some time. It’s been shown in studies to be a carcinogenic substance.
Professor Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at Sheffield University, in 2007 said “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether. The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it – as happens in a number of diseased states – then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. There is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA – Parkinson’s and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of ageing. The food industry will say these compounds have been tested and they are completely safe. By the criteria of modern safety testing, the safety tests were inadequate. Like all things, safety testing moves forward and you can conduct a much more rigorous safety test than you could 50 years ago”.
3) Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Most children don't eat enough fruits and vegetables and that usually means that they are eating other less nutritious foods. Even many adults don’t have enough fruit and veggies in their daily diets. With a high fibre content and lots of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and enzymes, fruit and veggies are an important part of a healthy diet. Many of them also contain lots of water. Therefore eating fruits and vegetables can help you to feel full and satisfied so that you don't over eat.
4) Eat More Green Leafy Vegetables
In the words of Popeye, "I'm strong to the finish when I eats me spinach.” This is so true. Not only spinach but green leafy vegetables in general are awesome for great health. The colour green is actually associated with life, vitality and renewal. Green leafy vegetables are among the most nutrient dense foods available and low in calories. Greens are high in iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, chlorophyll, enzymes and many other phyto-chemicals and micro-nutrients. Greens really bring so much to the table to help support your inner ecosystem.
5) Be More Active
Everyone knows that part of the cause of the current obesity epidemic is that people are much less active then they used to be. Get children involved in activities such as team or individual sports, or even dancing. Cut back on the amount of time in front of the TV, computer and video games as these definitely won’t burn calories and improve fitness levels like exercising. Family activities are also a good way to be more physically active. Simple things like using stairs, taking the dog for a walk, or going for short bike rides can make a big difference. This is really vital to the health of your family and again you will be setting up your children’s future to be a healthier one. Remember they generally learn from your habits. So by creating good habits and engraining them in your life, you’ll also be creating good life long habits in your children's lives.
6) Know Where Calories Come From
While you don't necessarily need to do daily calorie counts, keep a diary of what your family eats for a week so you can see where the calories are coming from. Are your children overweight because of the calories they get from a bedtime snack or a treat of lollies? Or maybe the portion sizes are too large? If you know where your children’s calories are coming from, you will know where to make changes and where you need to cut back. Focus on giving them whole foods, which will contain far fewer calories but are nutrient dense, meaning that they are supplying your children's bodies with a good range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants.
7) Learn About Carbs
Believe it or not, there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Whilst it’s a good idea to avoid foods such as bread and pasta, and beverages sweetened with sugar, other carbs should be part of a balanced diet. Everyone needs carbs in their diet – but the good carbs though. Foods with good carbohydrates includes fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils to name a few. If you are going to have breads then make sure it’s wholegrain or rye as they are much better options. Remember that carbohydrates are processed by the body and turned into glucose (sugar) for energy. If you are having too many carbs and not burning them off, then all that extra glucose (sugar) just ends up in the fat stores of you or your children.
8) Learn About Fats
Like carbs, there are good and bad fats. Having good fats in your diet has been shown to help promote weight loss, protect your heart, help fight fatigue and support overall health. Whereas bad fats have been shown to promote weight gain, increase the risk of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Eat foods that have good fat in them. This includes foods with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. On the other hand, you should avoid saturated fats and trans fats. A few great plant foods which have good fats, include avocados, olives and extra virgin olive oil, nuts, tofu and sunflower seeds.
9) Choose Healthy Meals when Eating Out
Even if your family eats healthy at home, if you eat super-sized fast food meals a few times a week, there’s not only a risk for becoming overweight but also high risks at developing a whole range of health issues. If you eat out a lot, make sure you choose the healthier options and watch your portion sizes. If you can’t find something suitable on the menu, ask the waiter if the chef can prepare something healthy for you. Nine times out of ten they will whip up something healthy for you. At the end of the day it’s your money and if they won’t make you something that you want to eat… then vote with your feet. Leave and don’t go back. Making healthy food isn’t hard!
10) Stay Motivated!
Most people think they know what they need to do to be healthier, however a lot of people think eating healthy and exercising is not easy. I personally think that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The body generally doesn’t like change and will resist it. Humans really are creatures of habit. However once you make a change and stick with it for a week or two it will become part of your routine. Education about the specifics of a healthy diet, getting the whole family involved, and setting goals, can help your family stay healthy and fit. You can actually make it fun. If you do need a push, hire a personal trainer or seek the counsel of a health coach to keep you on the healthy track. Socialising with healthy families can help too! Being happy is also key to living a long and healthy life.
The choice is really up to you. You only have one shot at this life so you may as well give it your best shot. You don’t want to look back and say I wish I could have done that or I should have done this, and I’m sure you don’t want to become another medical statistic.
For plenty of delicious healthy recipes the family will love, get the Global Health Renegade Time to Get Healthy eBook.
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