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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

The keys to kicking obesity

October 13, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

Here we go again!

Our bodies are in constant change, for better or worse, depending on genes, habits and our ignorance or knowledge concerning what's going on. Dr. Donohue's daily column in the DMG is a valuable resource as an ongoing education about our health. He cites eating habits as one major example. We truly are what we ingest. Everything we eat has its consequences, good or bad.

In the doctor's column, a woman commented on her husband's habitual use of chewing tobacco, saying that his mouth has become ugly with mottled, white gums. When warned that if he continues to chew, he's on a crash course for a mouthful of cancer, his reaction was always the same, "But I like it."

One wonders if that attitude might also account for the sight of bulging bellies, expanded hips and immense posteriors - so prevalent that we hardly grimace at its excessive grossness.

From many sources, we already know the economic and medical consequences of obesity, and yet the prevalence remains. Pure habit? Or because the pleasure of consuming huge quantities of food overrides the fear of future ills and earlier deaths?

In another of Dr. Donohue's columns he was asked to explain sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, etc. His reply was that all are forms of sugar, all empty calories and all dangerous to health when taken in large quantities. As an example, he cited as much as 10 teaspoons or 150 calories are contained in a single can of a soft drink. People still consumes huge quantities, usually aware of inevitable consequences, yet ignore it. They like it.

Answers as to why people are willing to pile on the calories are actually too varied and far too complicated to discuss here. Instead, tangential to the eating problem, and perhaps a guide to consuming less, was noted in a popular nutrition magazine, which discussed three novel approaches to eating less.

First, by chewing more. After watching 16 lean and 14 obese men eat breakfast, researches noted that the lean men chewed more per bite - 21 vs. 17 times. Then the scientists asked all the men to eat as much food as they wanted, and to chew each bite either 15 or 40 times. The men who chose 40 chews per bite consumed 12 percent fewer calories.

In a second study, researchers fed 14 obese, pre-diabetic men and women a breakfast of orange juice and cream of wheat cereal, either alone or with 225 calories of whole almonds (33 nuts). The results were astonishing: those who opted for the whole nuts felt more full for the rest of the day and so ate less, as opposed to the others who ate no nuts at all.

A third study found that students ate 40 percent fewer calories when offered pistachios in the shell than when they ate already shelled pistachios. Also, the participants ate 18 percent fewer pistachios when researchers left the discarded shells on the desk all day as a reminder of what had been consumed.

So, how to take advantage of those studies? Eat whole foods, chew thoroughly, and don't whisk away a reminder of what you ate.

But that's assuming a person recognizes the dangers in overloading with the wrong kinds and quantities of food and drink, which invite seriously permanent ailments - all because, "I like it."

It's been said that inside an obese person is a thin one trying to get out. How can it be accomplished? Quick fix diets never work. The answer, once the willingness exists, is a step at a time. After all, it took years to arrive at that unhealthy state; so it would take more years of fighting habit and self indulgence to find that thin body inside.

With the help of people like Dr. Donohue, it can be done.

Note: Today, the Nordic Film Festival returns with a new Kaurismaki movie, "Three Wise Men." It is free, in the Heritage Center at 2 and 6 p.m. All are welcome.

Rotten Tomato averages: "The Help," B+; "Real Steel," C+



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