Top 3 Personal Nutrition Strategies to Tackle the Growing Obesity Problem Print

Global CalgaryTell me about the new study that was just released about worldwide obesity statistics?

According to a new study in the Lancet* the number of overweight or obese individuals worldwide increased from 29% to 37% for men and 30% to 38% for women from 1980 to 2013.

Approximately 23% of children and adolescents in developed countries are overweight or obese (approximately 13% of boys and girls in developing countries).

While Canada obesity rates are lower than in the USA, they are not lower by very much. In Canada nearly 65% of men and 49% of women are overweight or obese. For boys under 20 years of age 25% are overweight and 10% are considered obese. For girls under 20 years of age 22% are overweight and 9% are considered obese.

Were any of the countries studied successful at reducing obesity?

None of the 188 countries studied actually experienced a decline in obesity or has experienced a national success story to help solve this global health challenge. This is indeed disheartening. While massive policy, government and food industry changes need to be addressed to truly begin to tackle obesity, so do our personal lifestyle habits.

What is one of the most common misconceptions about our body weight?

Anyone that simplifies the notion that your weight is a reflection of calories in versus calories out is simply oversimplifying the science of the human body. Your body weight is a reflection of a complex mix of factors above and beyond your food and physical activity levels. Also important are genetics, family history, age, gender, body composition, sleep habits, stress levels and more.   Remember that some of these factors we can change while others we have little control over.

Dr. Arya Sharma who is a leading obesity researcher and founder of the Canadian Obesity Network suggests one of the first things to focus on is setting the goal to stop further weight gain rather than focus on losing weight.   This is itself a huge success, must result in significant changes and a realistic non-shaming way to focus on weight management.

What can I do about my eating habits to help prevent further weight gain?

Having worked with many clients struggling with their weight here are the top 3 things to consider about nutrition for weight management:

1. Do it your way

While I certainly have opinions about what I would like to see people eating, one thing that I know with certainty is that you must do it your way. If you are overweight, there is not one way to prevent further weight gain and weight loss.

Design a plan that considers reducing your overall calorie intake that also considers health and enjoyment. Regardless if you are a vegetarian, carb-junkie or “meat-atarian,” all diets that result in a calorie deficit will help you prevent further weight gain. Rather than doing an extreme lifestyle makeover what if each time you ate calorically dense foods you simply just ate a tiny bit less?

Cooking veggiesSince we underestimate how much we eat by approximately 20-40% take whatever your current eating plan is and shrink the size of calorie dense foods by one-quarter. For example instead of having 1 cup of rice try 3/4 cup or instead of having 8 ounces of meat have 6 ounces. If the meal now appears too small think about adding more veggies since there are few people I see that couldn’t benefit from eating more of these. Also realize that changes like this often are more about training your eyes to get used to the change than training your stomach.

2. Consider “non-negotiable ” foods first

You will not be successful following something that relies on willpower to deny yourself enjoyable soulful fun foods. Anyone can lose weight for a short time but can you sustain it? Your eating plan needs to make sure you have built in opportunities for social fun and yummy food chosen for non-nutrition reasons.

As the chocoholic dietitian you can bet one of my non-negotiable foods is chocolate. I also really enjoy social foodie restaurant meals and wine. I’ve built a healthy eating plan around these so that it fits my lifestyle and food preferences. Think about how much and how often you need to have your favorite non-negotiable foods. It is not about all or none or good or bad foods. It is about making choices. What is really worth it? Save room for your favorite and choose to make a few sacrifices in places that really are not as important to you.

3. Cook! Cook! Cook!

While you might be surprised that I am suggesting you spend more time thinking about food if you are overweight, I believe this is one of the single most effective strategies in weight management. If you are spending time shopping, prepping and cooking I know that tasty nourishing food is a priority rather than an afterthought. I also believe that food becomes more satisfying when you use your head, eyes, nose and hands to prepare it instead of ripping open a package or driving through a take-out window and devouring food in minutes.

While cooking might be something you dislike based on a busy schedule, fatigue, stress and feelings of guilt or inadequacy, start small and find a way to build some enjoyment. Take some cooking classes with a family member or friend. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef. Start by turning the TV off, putting on some inspiring music and preparing simple quick meals using a basic cookbook or apps (two of my favorites are Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything app/cookbook or Dietitians of Canada’s several cookbooks). Instead of rushing to inhale your meal or eating in front of some sort of technology, sit down at the kitchen table, eat slowly and mindfully savor your bites.

Source: * http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60460-8/abstract

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About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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