Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1429, (7 - 13 February 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Choose ‘health’ over ‘thin’

Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator
Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator

Due to restriction of space it is not uncommon that at times we submit a certain subject and leave it to the discretion of the reader to pursue further, at will.

Last week’s article “Down with diets” has triggered many questions amongst our readers as to diet alternatives. We are happy to oblige with further studies and suggestions for a wise and healthy alternative.

Among the standard garden variety diets, some have stood the test of time like the Atkins, South Beach or the Scarsdale diets, all recommend high protein intake and low carbohydrates — which makes sense.

However, the aim is to wean ourselves from all diets. They are restricting psychologically, emotionally and physically and life provides enough restrictions, we can do with one less.

You think 2018 was a fat year. So was 2017, 2016 etc. Every year is a fat year if you have a tendency to put on a few unwanted kilogrammes. There is no ultimate diet, for you or for anyone. Diets turn against you and when you stop they stop too. The best diet of all is to eat less and exercise more.

No, please do not starve yourself, or work out for eight hours in a gym. We need food, but we only need that much. Exceeding the very little amount to sustain life is what leads to obesity. While all diets result in weight loss, a healthy long-term lifestyle with a well balanced diet of protein, fat and carbohydrates, produces best results: 20-30 per cent fat; 10-25 per cent protein and 45/65 per cent carbohydrates. Remember that weight gain occurs only when energy intake is more than energy expenditure.

If you wish to lose weight burn more than you eat.

Our quest for beauty, attractiveness and acceptance has distracted us from focusing on good health.

Once we accept the fact that there is no magic pill or diet to make us a “Kardashian” model, let us focus on good health.

Exercise is as unpleasant a subject as diets but a little effort will go a long way. Walk rather than ride a car. Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator. Make your own coffee instead of asking for one. Now you are on your way to a good start. A 30-minute walk even around the house — dusting, cleaning, rearranging furniture, skipping, dancing to the golden oldies or rocking and rolling, huffing and puffing will strengthen your muscles, and burn enough fuel to maintain your weight, extend it further and lose some weight.

Carbohydrates are not the villains they are reputed to be. Of course there are good carbs and bad carbs. Good carbs supply energy in the form of glucose for the red blood cells, the brain, the nervous system, muscle cells, placenta and fetus.

Who needs all that sugar anyway? Our bodies do not require sugar at all. Yet in the last century our sugar intake has increased 20 times per capita. Choose fruits and vegetables instead, and if you must, just take only one bite of that birthday cake.

We do not have to be twiggy thin to be attractive.

Thinness has become an obsession of our age — a phenomenon as alarming as it is deadly. Our genes play a major part in our frame and structure. We can be “not thin” but healthier than “thin, thin”.

The desire to be thin has produced numerous psychological and medical problems. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia have resulted in numerous deaths, especially among the youth who wish to be accepted by their peers.

The quest for beauty has become a sort of enslavement, Starvation has shortened the life-span mostly of women who wish to be extremely thin, which resulted in weakened hearts, intestinal malfunction and destruction of teeth.

Ah for those days of long, long ago when fat was a sign of beauty, feminine appeal, affluence and good health. Being thin was not only undesirable but considered sickly, unfit for marriage or nurturing a family.

What exactly happened to change our concept of beauty? Could clothes be one of the reasons?

For centuries humans ran around naked until yarn was discovered in plants. Needle and thread helped cover our bodies with all their deficiencies.
The Industrial Age released women from the home and from the heavy costumes.

The roaring 1920s came roaring in making clothes lighter, simpler, more comfortable and more revealing.

After WWII the maxi had a brief life as the maxi took over and the trend of less clothing was followed by the trend of less fat. The bathing suit played a role as more people were able to summer at the beaches. In 1946, French designer Lewis Reard introduced the bikini, named after a group of islands in the Pacific, the Bikini Atoll. That sealed the deal. Thin was in.

All the elements worked against a well-rounded figure. Diet foods flooded the market. Models and movie-stars sent the wrong messages to an uninformed society that the perfect body was the key to all good things in life, an unfair, unreal, sadistic pursuit. Beauty was preferred to health.

The body’s internal activities need a variety of healthy foods and calories for regular heartbeats, respiration, digestion, regular metabolism and survival.

Deprivation leads to excess, Get the nutrients you need and move constantly. If you are healthy you shall feel good, if you feel good, you will look good, not only for Valentine’s Day, but for everyday.

After all, nobody is perfect.

“Life’s not just being alive, but being well.”

Martial (c 40-104)

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