There’s no secret that the United States has been dealing with an obesity epidemic for many years now.
In fact, according to Trust for America’s Health, more than 40 percent of all adult American citizens are categorized as obese.
Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “1 in 5 children and adolescents in the US have obesity.”
Of course, there are different causes that lead to people gaining an unhealthy amount of weight, including genetics and lifestyle choices and they are linked to some of the most serious health issues.
After all, obesity can cause high blood pressure, high or low HDL cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, Dyslipidemia, stroke, coronary heart disease and, of course, even death.
If you have been struggling with dropping the pounds and improving your life and health, the good news is that no matter how hard it may seem, you can still do it!
With the right changes in your lifestyle and with some determination, the extra weight can be lost.
Of course, it can be really hard to know what the right steps to take are, which is why this article is here to help you out!
Rest assured that by following these expert given tips, anyone can reverse obesity!
A Plant-Based Diet
A well known method for dropping the pounds and improving health quickly is adopting a different lifestyle that involves no unhealthy and processed foods.
Expert Amy Davis, RD, LDN, explained that “A plant based diet has the power to reverse obesity for many reasons. First off all, fruits and vegetables are the main food eaten, and they’re very low in calories while being really high in nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants. Also, replacing processed foods with plant based food will often inadvertently decrease calorie consumption and mindless snacking.”
Cut Out Sports Drinks or Soda
Davis also advises to “Replace all other drinks with water – Sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened coffees are some of the most common drivers of sugar consumption in the US. Replacing such drinks with water will drastically decrease calorie and sugar intake, saving people thousands of calories and of grams of sugar over weeks and months.”
Work Out in the Morning
It may seem impossible, especially if you are a very busy person but squeezing in a little bit of exercise at the beginning of your day can do wonders for your journey and overall mood.
Davis mentions that “Even just twenty minutes of exercise first thing in the morning has some massive benefits that can help reverse obesity. A morning workout will increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin, jumpstarting the metabolism, while also decreasing cortisol. These neurological benefits trickle down into the rest of someone’s day, helping you feel better, [helping you] make better food choices, and overall improving the quality of life.”
Make Sure to Always Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Founder and trainer at My Fitness System, Dave Shelton, stresses that you should never be too tough on yourself with your diet or the numbers on the scale.
He makes it very clear that it is “not feasible. It’s better to set goals small at first so that you can easily achieve them. Small feats of success can motivate you to keep pushing forward in your fight against obesity.”
Always Question if You Really Need to Eat Something You Crave in the Moment
Clinical Psychologist Professor at Pepperdine University, Steven M. Sultanoff advises to “Start a high-quality sugar diet.”
He goes on to also explain what that means, saying that it is a diet type where you don’t actually restrict yourself when it comes to food.
Instead, every time you are about to consume a large quantity of food or sugary treats, “pause and just ask yourself, ‘Is this how I want to invest my sweet cravings? Do I want to actually skip this candy bar so that I can later have my chocolate cake?'”
This way “you’re slowing down your food choices and delaying gratification. The more that you delay, the fewer calories you consume, and you’re on your way to managing eating which manages weight, of course. You’re making yourself conscious of your food choices. This might also include looking at the calorie count on any restaurant menu and then making a choice of how to invest calories. This ‘diet’ is actually a cognitive lifestyle change keeping the individual in control while not burdening you with limits and structures so often resisted, at the same time. Over time it becomes integrated into the very fabric of one’s being.”
Acknowledge and Tackle the Food Addiction Problem
Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nutrition Coach, Stephanie Lincoln, mentions that at the very level of society, the only realistic way of reversing obesity is by realizing there is a serious food addiction problem.
In fact, it may be the most common addiction there is and yet, “no one’s talking about it.”
“Because of evolutionary biology, our brains and our bodies were designed to give us really strong, nearly impossible to ignore, impulses to overeat and crave the things that would fatten us up the fastest – sugar and carbs. Our biology was designed in such a way because it helped our ancestors survive. They had to overeat when they could because the occasion did not come up too often. It helped them store fat and be ready for many times a year where they went hungry, due to the lack of access to food because of the season, of migration, or famine,” she explains.
Unfortunately, those hormones are still very much part of our biology despite the fact that we no longer need all those extra calories today.
With that being said, Lincoln stresses that “We’re addicted to food and unless we actually address this in ourselves, we’ll never be able to overcome obesity.”
Reverse Your Nutrition Habits
What this means is, basically, eating just like our ancestors thousands and thousands of years ago!
As mentioned before, our biology has been programmed in this way because of the people many generations before us which is why it is so difficult to change.
In this case, Lincoln believes there is a simple solution – work with our biology instead of against it!
More precisely, she suggests imagining how our ancestors lived and trying to follow their diet to a certain extent as far as behavior is concerned.
“Did they just get out of bed and immediately consume two cups of coffee with maple sugar and a massive bowl of sugary cereal? NO! They got up and just started work. They went foraging or hunting, prepared for the migration of the day. They did not snack or drink all day. They worked, hunted, they foraged, then brought it all back to the community, prepared the food, and enjoyed it all that evening. They might have brought along a water skin, or some dried meats as a snack to have throughout the day, but the largest meal of the day was always at the day’s end, and there was always enough time in between meals.”
Of course, their food was all natural as well instead of filled with all kinds of chemicals and sugar so try your best to avoid processed food as much as possible!
After all, the explosion of processed food availability in the United States perfectly correlates with the sharp increase in heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity!
“Your food should have only one ingredient. Chicken has chicken. Eggs have eggs. An apple has an apple. Just eat real food and one large meal a day with small, high protein snacks during the day to sustain energy.”
Behavior and Human Psychology
Clinical Professor Emeritus of Medicine from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Morton Tavel, mentions that there’re actually many other reasons why people eat aside from just hunger.
Hunger is actually much more complex than we sometimes realize so Tavel stresses that it is important to differentiate between what he calls “stomach hunger” and “mind hunger” despite the fact that they merge together most of the time.
He goes on to explain that “While some psychological factors (like eating when we are sad or stressed, or in some social gatherings) can sabotage all our efforts to make healthy choices or to consume fewer calories. If you have a variety of high-calorie processed foods around you are more likely to be tempted. Since the same rule also applies to fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, the more healthy foods you have on hand the better. Naturally high-fiber foods—like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds—are one of the keys to controlling hunger.”
Another very useful trick, as gimmicky as it may sound, is putting your food on a smaller plate in order to fill it up instead of putting the same amount of food on a big plate and leaving half of it empty.
This way, your brain will be tricked into believing that you are giving it more food than you actually are and you will feel more satiated as well, as a result!
Take Your Time When Eating Your Meals
If you want to lead a healthy life, never gobble down all of your food. Instead, try to eat slowly.
This way, not only will you enjoy it more but you will also allow your brain more time to understand at which point during the meal you are actually full or not.
Tavel explains that “It takes about twenty minutes for gut satiety hormones to kick in after a meal, so if we eat quickly, we might not give our bodies enough time to tell us that we are full. Slowing down the pace of eating may therefore help with weight loss.”
Make Sure You Consume Enough Fiber and Protein
Tavel notes that you should always have a source of protein with each and every one of your meals.
Furthermore, it’s also recommended that you spread it out relatively evenly all throughout the day.
“The typical American diet’s heavy in protein at dinner, and light at breakfast. I’d suggest including Greek yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, and nut butter or nuts as quick and just easy ways to increase protein in the morning meal. Adding enough fiber to protein serves a good appetite suppressants. Fiber. No processed, higher fiber foods might help keep one’s hunger at bay. Consuming foods naturally rich in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which stimulate GLP-1 from the gut, and can inhibit appetite in the brain.”
As it seems, depending on the source of fiber, you will get different degrees of satisfaction.
For instance, soluble fiber is great at increasing the feeling of satiety due to the fact that it packs the stomach, making it feel full.
Furthermore, it slows the food’s movement through the intestinal tract, which has the same effect of feeling satiated.
Some of the best sources of fiber are: citrus fruits, oats, barley, apples and beans but all whole grains, vegetables and fruits also contain soluble fiber in different quantities.
“Choosing whole grains or less processed whole grain foods, such as steel cut oats or breads made with bigger pieces of grain, might help you feel more satisfied compared to just eating the same amount of a fine grain. This is because whole grains are coarser and take longer to digest. Whole grains, such as oatmeal and barley, also blunt spikes in blood sugar, which helps to control hunger.”
Not to mention that foods naturally high in fiber take a longer time to chew which leads to slowed down eating.
“It’s much easier to just wolf down a bag of chips, a breadstick or gulp a sugar sweetened beverage than work through an apple, carrot sticks, a salad, or a bowl of whole grain, bran-based cereal,” Tavel points out.