Fat to Fit

February 27, 2008 1:20:34 PM PST
At any given time, one-third of Americans report being on a diet. According to a Weight Watchers study, almost half of women (45 percent) report resolving to lose weight as their New Year's resolution. But losing that weight can be hard as many of us suffer from food addictions. Don't get too excited blaming your weight on this. The name is somewhat misleading. Food addictions aren't real "addictions" per se. However, over time, we create nearly unstoppable dependencies and emotional attachments to food that are hard to abandon. In our society filled with abundant amounts of high-carb, high-fat, sweet and salty, food has become more than nourishment for our bodies.

In the United States, we have come to incorporate food with entertainment and celebration. Go to a party ... eat appetizers. It's your birthday ... let's eat cake. Go to the movies ... grab the popcorn, candy and soda. It's no wonder, then, that so many of us turn to food when they need a pick-me-up, when they are bored or as a compliment to ANY situation. It becomes difficult, then, to separate food from our daily activities, when cutting calories is key to losing weight.

OBESITY EPIDEMIC: According to Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore, Md., two-thirds of the United States adult population is overweight or obese. This heavy issue can have dramatic effects on one's health ... and even their life.

"Each generation has lived longer than the one before it, and now we may be seeing a reversal of that trend because of something that is potentially correctable," Dr. Cheskin said.

KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF: They say, "Old habits die hard." The same holds true for eating habits. Many people who lose weight will say losing it was the easy part. It's keeping it off that's tough.

"People need to be aware that there's not just initially doing the strict diet and losing weight," Dr. Cheskin said. "They really need to step back and see where the habits come from, and what they need to change for the long term so that they have a diet for the rest of their lives that helps them maintain the right body weight for their size."

The next time you're eating, ask yourself why. If it's not because you're hungry, you may want to put the snacks down and get busy. Find new outlets for your boredom and emotions. Take a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Do things that are difficult to eat and do at the same time. Eventually, you'll wean yourself off of eating for fun or for habit and find you turn to other activities and outlets first.