Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Then Shall We Eat?

Given global hunger it’s a sad state of affairs that overweight is such a problem in America. Rising food costs could likely make it a bigger problem as the cheapest consumables are the highest in fat, sugar, and starch.

We need a better national sense of What Not to Eat (or at least an eponymous TV show) and access to affordable healthy foods to trim America's girth.

The most practical recommendations on How to Eat that I've read recently came in the form of an introduction to Mexican Everyday from Rick Bayless (his book and his introduction) and Jane Brody’s New Year missive in the New York Times Well Blog. Bayless advocates sensible choices on a daily basis and enjoying weekly feasts. Brody cuts thru the clutter of weight-loss advice with simplicity:

“And really, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a diet based on your genotype or the phases of the moon, or whether you cut down on sugars and starches or fats. If you consume fewer calories you need to maintain your current weight, you will lose.”
Controlling consumption is key. As we age our muscle mass depletes, only to be replaced by fat. Muscle mass and caloric needs are directly related: muscle burns more calories than fat. The effect of muscle loss is a lower metabolism and, if caloric intake isn’t curtailed, increased body fat. Maintaining an ideal weight means eating less every year.

For those of us who love to eat, this sounds horrible.

Luckily, there's good news. If you work (via strength training) to create or maintain muscle mass you’ll be able to enjoy extra calories without losing them to fat. The trick is finding that balance - how many calories, how much strength training.

I’m still trying to find that balance and there’s great fun in the process. Especially when enjoying those weekend feasts. More on those later in the week.

Read More About It:

New York Times Well Guide
Mayo Clinic Food & Nutrition
USDA My Plate (the re-tooled Food Pyramid)

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