In Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work we discussed why going on a diet is a recipe for disaster. For most people, dieting is not the way to lose weight permanently. Any long term answer to losing weight and staying slim must be pain free, otherwise, there is no way that the weight loss can be sustained. By pain free, I mean that you mustn’t go hungry or have to exert any amount of will power to the process of losing weight and maintaining your new slim body. Truly slim people don’t use will power to stay slim. If you don’t believe this, just ask anyone that you know that has always been slim, they will tell you that they don’t make any effort to be slim, although they probably won’t know why.
Despite what anyone may say, your genetics are only a minor factor in determining whether you are fat or thin. It’s your lifestyle, behaviour and habits that make you the way you are. If you don’t believe this, just have a look at street photos from your neighbourhood taken 50 years ago. You will see that people were much slimmer back then. This US Government link, adult obesity facts, has a very interesting animation that shows just how much obesity has mushroomed in the past twenty years. The average American adult is 30 pounds heavier than 50 years ago, with most of the growth in average weight being in the past 20 years. It is very clear that obesity is a modern problem.
Before we go onto an action plan to become a slim person, it is important to understand the differences in behaviour, lifestyle and mindset of the slim verses the overweight person.
Fat and Thin Foods
Next time you go to the supermarket, just take a look at the sort of food and drink that overweight people buy compare to thin people. Although there are no hard and fast certainties, you’ll probably see a recurring theme. The shopping cart of the overweight person is likely to contain the following:
- Sweet carbonated drinks sugar or sugar free.
- Large bags of potato chips and fatty snacks.
- Processed foods, e.g. pizza, frozen pies.
- White Bread.
The slim person’s cart contains:
- Cereals, (not the sugar or chocolate coated variety).
- Real fruit juice, tea and coffee.
- Fresh fruit, vegetables, pulse and nuts.
- Fresh meat and fish.
- Brown bread.
You will see that the old saying “you are what you eat” is definitely in play here.
Probably the item that you would see the most in the obese person’s shopping cart are carbonated soda drinks. Just check out on the web the mind blowing amounts of sugar the drinks companies manage to pump into a standard sized can of sugared soda. However, these days, you will notice that most obese people buy the sugar free variety. Even though they are supposedly diet drinks, it is obvious that they are not doing the consumer any good when it comes to losing weight, and by the simple fact that they are so often found in the cart of the obese, it stands to reason there must be something about diet fizzy drinks that actually causes people to get fat.
The link with diet soda drinks and obesity has been backed up by a number of scientific studies. Although it is not fully understood why drinking diet soda leads to obesity, it is believed that the sweet taste of the soda triggers appetite, but with no actual feeling of fullness that goes with consuming real sugar. This distorts the appetite leading to cravings for more sweet and unhealthy foods.
Potato chips are high in fat, candy is high in sugar and and cakes are high in fat and sugar, all these items have little in the way of nutrition and are highly addictive. Processed foods are foods that are artificially changed to extend their shelf life. These foods can contain a whole host of chemicals and ingredients that are bad for you, including high levels of salt, carcinogens caused by cooking at high temperatures, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, which many believe is responsible for the obesity epidemic.
White bread as opposed to whole grain brown bread has had a significant amount of processing and removal of the good stuff like bran. Apart from not being as healthy as brown bread, white bread has a higher Glycemic Index (GI). This means that brown bread will fill you up for longer because low GI food takes the body longer to process and gives you a steadier source of energy.
Fat and Thin Behaviour
Apart from differences in slim and overweight peoples’ eating habits, there are also a number of differences in lifestyle and behaviour
Overweight people tend to skip breakfast. Slim people will have breakfast not long after they wake up. Not eating breakfast is a problem because the time that you need energy the most is at the start of the day when you are about to get active. Because you have not eaten since the night before, your energy levels will be very low if you don’t have your breakfast. For overweight people, not having breakfast seems like an easy way to try to control their weight as you do not tend to feel hungry just after you have woken up; this is the wrong way to think. A study has shown that when you skip breakfast, the brain is tricked into believing that you are starving and will switch on cravings for unhealthy calorie laden foods, causing you to overeat later in the day. The starvation/binge cycle will lead to weight gain because you burn off fat and muscle when starving and only put on fat when bingeing, leading to a higher proportion of fat in your body and a low metabolic rate (as discussed in Part 1 How to be a Slim Person – Why Diets Don’t Work).
Overweight people frequently skip meals. The slim person will eat meals at regular intervals day-in day-out. Again, skipping meals will activate the starvation response / binge eating cycle.
Overweight people eat much more quickly than slim people. There is a time lag between eating food and actually feeling full. Eating too quickly leads to overeating because the brain will not register the correct point at which you have had enough to eat.
Overweight people will finish what is on their plate, even if they are full. Slim people will stop eating when they are full.
Overweight people frequently binge on food and feel guilty about it. Slim people do not have any feelings of guilt about anything they eat. They may occasionally have too much to eat, but don’t worry about it. The feelings of guilt that overweight people have will trigger the starvation/binge cycle and lead to more weight gain.
Overweight people count calories. Slim people don’t bother counting calories, but know when they’ve eaten too much. Calorie counting leads to an obsession with food and cravings for what you supposedly can’t have.
Overweight people think about food a lot. Slim people only tend to think about food at mealtimes or when they are genuinely hungry.
Overweight people will “reward” themselves with food when they have done something “good” such as not eating much for a day or going to the gym. Slim people don’t have a concept of food rewards for being “good”, but enjoy good food.
Overweight people tend to comfort eat, that is, they eat because they are bored or for emotional reasons rather than because they are hungry. Thin people rarely comfort eat. Comfort eating is particularly bad for you as you tend to eat junk foods and snacks. Also, people comfort eat at times when they don’t need any extra energy, usually at night. The energy from this surplus food will be turned straight into fat.
Overweight people do less exercise than slim people whether that exercise is natural day to day exercise like going for a walking in your lunch hour, or organised exercise such as working out in the gym. Exercise is very important not only for the obvious health benefits, but also for controlling your weight. Put very simply, if you eat more calories than your body uses, you will put on weight, and if your body uses more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you exercise, you will burn off calories, simple. Slim people that are at their ideal weight tend to have an exact balance of calorie input to output. They may actually eat the same number of calories as overweight people, but as they do more exercise, they don’t put on weight because the exercise burns the extra calories off. Also, exercise increases the proportion of muscle to fat in the body, which increases your metabolic rate allowing you to burn off calories more quickly.
Overweight peoples’ weight tends to fluctuate wildly. Slim peoples’ weight tends to stay pretty much the same for years on end. Overweight people tend to be faddish with weight lose and exercise, with the consequence that they will ride the starvation/binge roller-coaster. Slim people keep their calorie intake and output on an even keel, but without any effort.
In Part 3 How to be a Slim Person – Action Plan to become a Slim Person, we will present an action plan for how to change your fat habits and apply gradual small changes to the way you live to give you the physique you’ve always wanted without dieting, stress or sacrifice.
How to be a Slim Person – Part 1
Online Body Fat Percentage Calculator
Adult obesity facts
How much sugar in sodas and beverages?
Fueling the obesity epidemic? artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain
Why processed foods are bad for you
What caused the obesity crisis in the west?
Low glycemic foods, explained
Skip breakfast, get fat