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August - September 2006


Fuller Figure - Strength or a Curse?

by Veena Verma

In ancient times a fuller figure or obesity was considered a status symbol (considered rich or strong) as people who could afford to eat more than needed for their body requirement were rich people. Whilst people with limited amount of money could afford the bare necessities, including food expenses, just to fulfil their appetite. It was a status symbol to entertain people on any celebration . Daily menu planning for upper class people mainly consisted of rich sugary dishes to enhance their taste buds. Science of nutrition was unheard of.

Now with the advancement of the science of nutrition, it is a proven fact thtat overweight or obesity is a major problem with our modern society. Losing weight or having the right type of figure is not only for vanity but also for the wellbeing of our body.

Overweight is now considered a curse rather than status symbol, a sign of lack of self discipline or ignorance. Millions of pounds are made on the slogan,’watch your weight’. The media is always full of various ways of losing weight. So many diet plans have been invented for weight loss regime.

It has been proved that there are many health problems like coronary heart disease, blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, diabetes on-insulin which could be avoided by managing weight.

So before we try to find a cure for obesity, we have to ask the question “why do we gain weight”?

We need energy for regulating our body processes, circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems, repairing wear and tear of the body and promoting growth. This energy is derived from the food we eat and is measured in calories. If we consume more calories than our bodies require, they are stored in our body as fat. The amount of calories requird for our body depends on different factors viz:

1. Age - During growth period more calories are needed. Adolescents need more calories than those in middle age.
2. Activity level - Physical activities like sports and manual workers require more calories.
3. Climate - In winter our body needs more fuel (or calories) compared to summer.
4. Height and state of health - Weight should be proportionate to height. Calorie requirement varies according to the state of health of the individual. If there is a balance of calorie intake of food in our body and the burning of calories by the body, the weight problem does not occur.

The golden rules to maintain your proper weight;

1. Cut down on processed foods like biscuits, pastry dishes or sweet dessert. Indian sweets are full of fat and sugar (short cut to coronary heart disease and obesity). Avoid eating small snacks while you are on the go in between meal times.
2. Do not rely on food as an escape for relieving stress factors from your daily life or using it as an escape route while you are bored. Choose some sort of hobby to keep your mind occupied.
3. Never eat your food whilst watching television or rushing around. You will eat more without realising.
4. Make a routine for doing some daily activities or exercise. Try to walk short distances rather than using your car. Use stairs instead of lift. Try to do some outside activities like gardening instead of sitting in front of the TV or using the computer sitting in the same position.
5. Eat slowly, chew your food properly. You will feel more satisfied quickly.
6. Try to eat more fruit and vegetables and whole foods (cereals, pulses etc.) in your diet.

Follow these golden rules and you will maintain your proper weight, look great and, of course, will feel great as well.

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