Thursday, February 18, 2010

Been told your health problems are all due to being overweight?

Many clients come to me for weight loss, having been told by MDs that their health problems are all due to being overweight. For example, their knee pain is automatically attributed to their excess weight, with the unfortunate consequence that other possible causes are not investigated and treated.

There is a lot more to good health than just being thin, and there is a lot more to a complete medical examination than just being weighed and measured. Some tests that are very informative are blood sugar, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and cardiovascular fitness (how you do on a treadmill test). People who score well on these tests live longer than thin people because good health comes from eating well and exercising, not from being skinny.

Why does this distinction matter? Because if your goal is good health rather than weight loss, you are more likely to succeed. For example by focusing on increasing your energy level, you will feel more like working out. By investigating medical approaches to healing your knee, you will be better able to exercise. This will be much more effective than beating yourself up for not being able to resist eating food. I like to help clients navigate areas of overlap between nutrition and medicine in the most constructive way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don’t have time to cook- or is that just what you’ve been told?

A former commissioner of the FDA, David Kessler, joined faculty and students at Stanford University for dinner on 2/4, followed by a thought provoking talk on “the insatiable American appetite”.

If everyone were given access to lots of cheap cocaine, we’d probably have pretty high rates of addiction, right? Well Dr. Kessler thinks that restaurants and food companies have managed to find the perfect combinations of sugar, fat, and salt to make many foods affect our brains just like addictive drugs do, inducing dependency. And since these foods are cheap, found absolutely everywhere, high in calories and engineered to be easy to chew and swallow, we eat a lot and gain weight.

What can we do about this? Go back in time to when the foods we had around were not addictive? The solution is easier than time travel- buy some meat or beans and vegetables and cook your own dinner. With a little practice, it takes less time to whip up an omelet or to heat up some lentil soup that you made on your day off than it does to drive to a restaurant.

The problem isn’t a lack of time to cook, it’s that ads for restaurants and frozen dinners have brainwashed us into believing that we don’t have the time or skills to prepare food. We’re out of the habit of cooking- once you get back in the habit you’ll see how easy it really is.