Yet Another Reason to Control Your Weight

October 28, 2011 in General, Health, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

I had dinner at a friend’s house Monday night. The meal was raclette. The traditional raclette-style meal is vegetables -- usually potatoes, onions and (gulp) Gherkins covered with raclette cheese. The meal I had was a little different in style. We didn't have any of the traditional vegetables; we had baby squash, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. We used Gruyere and cheddar cheeses. We also grilled marinated strips of beef and chicken on the top grill. The great thing about a raclette meal is that you can determine what and how much you want to eat - you prepare your own meal from the raw ingredients. You choose how much cheese (if any) to have.

The downside is that you don't get to see how much you are eating as your entire meal. You grill several strips of meat at a time and cook one small tray of vegetables at a time. This is one of the situations that Brian Wansink talks about in "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think". Just because there is food on the table and everyone else is eating, one has a tendency to keep eating. And I have to say that I ate more than I would have if the ingredients were all laid out on a plate before I started the cooking process. I had a late lunch and an apple before I went to dinner - and still I ate too much.

Why is this important? For one reason, it all adds up. I have too many dinner parties, birthdays, special occasions, etc. to be able to counterbalance my splurges with equally smaller meals in a month, much less a week. With the holidays coming up, the social activity will be even more frequent and the temptation factor with sweets and other high calorie foods will be even greater. And then you ask again, why is this important? You can always go on a diet after the holidays, right? Yes, but you might want to consider new research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found evidence related to hormone levels that make it more difficult to keep off weight that you lose.

In this small study in Australia, obese and overweight people were put on a stringent diet (500 to 550 calories per day - side note: I wish they would make these studies more realistic with people on at least 1200 calories per day) with the purpose of losing 10% of their body weight. Findings revealed that a year later, leptin levels were lower than pre-diet levels. This means that the participants would have a greater appetite and their metabolism would be slower than when they started the diet -- essentially making it more difficult to keep the weight off. Researchers believe that these finding will apply to people who lose less than 10% of their body weight, although to a lesser degree. According the Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a key message of the study is that “it’s better not to gain weight than to try to lose it.”

Dr. Grandma's blog Suggested Rules for Buffet Table Navigation gives you great idea to avoid overeating in the face of tempting situations. On the Dr. Grandma's site, you will also find a lot of useful suggestions for avoiding weight gain such as eating more vegetables, drinking more water and trading up to healthy foods instead of dieting. You will also find a lot of healthy, low calorie and highly nutritional recipes to help you in feel satisfied with less calories. Don't be tempted by the idea that you eat what you want during the holidays and lose it later - make it easy on yourself and avoid the weight now.