The latest European statistics have shown that Malta is still the fattest country in Europe. A title we’ve proudly held since – like – forever.
It may seem like a harmless statistic, but with obesity directly linked to a risk of early death by way of a number of nasty diseases, one would say it’s about time we start making some changes.
It may surprise you, but much of good health is, in actual fact, a choice. A choice you make every day. Every meal, every move you make will impact your health positively or negatively.
Whether you believe it or not, the body wants to heal. Sometimes it just can’t because certain issues prevent it from doing so.
You may think you’re to blame for this, that you’ve been coerced into getting bigger purely out of gluttony. But you’re not. Weight gain just creeps into our daily lives, insidiously, as a consequence of living in 2022.
But fear not, for knowing is half the battle. So read on to scratch off six issues keeping your weight loss – and your health – at bay.
1. Replace rich foods with poor foods… most of the time
Believe it or not, Malta wasn’t always the haven of glorious food it once was. In fact, the first settlers who graced our lands had a hard time acquiring the grub we get today with the click of a mouse.
Chowing down on plants, predominantly, has been shown to increase the lifespan of several populations. This is not a new concept, but one that stemmed from the 2004 research of National Geographic’s Dan Buettner. The man isolated five of the longest-living populations in the known world and identified commonalities in their diet and behaviours. This marked the birth of plant-based diets.
‘Plant-based’ foods, like beans, fruits (particularly berry-fruits), cruciferous vegetables and greens, coloured vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole-grains, and herbs (particularly Mediterranean) have all been proven to extend a typical human’s lifespan.
The above foods are low in calories and extremely nutrient-dense. Pretty much the stuff you want to be putting in your body.
That is not to say that animal-based foods do not carry their own advantages too. For instance, one vitamin is exclusively found in animal-based foods (vitamin B12).
In addition, many nutrients found in fish, for example, provide us with a healthy dose of a type of fat proven to promote life, in general.
Some studies even show pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) tended to live longer than vegetarians!
2. Replace all drinks with water… and maybe a little wine!
Let’s face it; most drinks are garbage. You’ve got your soft drinks, your caramel crappo-frappo-ccinos, your flavoured waters and a whole bunch of other stuff.
These are essentially water-based drinks defiled by nasty things designed to give some awesome flavour and/or colour. Sugar, industrial seed oils, preservatives, artificial sweeteners… all calories with absolutely no nutritional benefit.
So what purpose do they have? None, save the 20 seconds of euphoria you get when you drink them.
Substituting these drinks with mother nature’s very own water can have a profound impact on our health. Scientists even put this to the test by making overweight ladies switch from sweetened drinks to water, and tracking them for up to a year.
Even though the beverage in question was a ‘diet beverage’, these ladies enjoyed a significant weight loss and a host of other health benefits which increased as time went by.
And what about wine?
Moderate consumption of wine has been seen in most people who live to over a hundred. Yes, you read that right.
Sardinians were known for their daily consumption of a type of wine called Cannanau wine. The alcoholic beverage is up to three times higher in anti-oxidants: mop-up crews which clean up your arteries.
Resveratrol, the chemical found in wine, also serves to keep you free of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Now that doesn’t mean you could go to town on an entire bottle every day. Because moderation is a factor here. Aim for up to 2 glasses per day, if at all, and stick to water for the most part.
3. Replace unfixed mealtimes with fixed meal times… without being too rigid.
Life is a complex battle against time.
You get in that cereal bar whilst walking to work, only to be greeted by some tea and biscuits prepared by your colleagues. Shortly after you get HANGRY (because all you’ve eaten are empty calories) so you order that baguette from the cute place ’round the corner. Come three o’clock, it’s time for some cheese and crackers… you see where this is going, don’t you?
We have been led to believe that eating little and frequently can ramp up our metabolism, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In fact, eating very frequently causes constant surges in your blood sugar, and that comes part-and-parcel with getting fatter.
This grazing can increase your risk for abdominal obesity, the dangerous type of fat that comes with damage within the heart.
Fixed mealtimes can put an end to chronic snacking on crappy foods with little-to-no nutritional value by making sure you get nutrient-dense foods inside you, thus, helping you feel full throughout the day.
It’ll help us keep our total calories in check, and give our body the right balance between the ‘action’ and ‘digestion’ phases. It also serves to enhance our ‘gut microbiome’; the helpful microorganisms living in our gut that actually digest the food we eat.
Three meals a day is generally fine for most people, and skipping the odd meal if you’re not hungry wouldn’t hurt your goals.
Keep that grub coming in at roughly the same times, but don’t obsess. On occasion, you’ll have to stray away from that… and that’s O.K.
4. Replace sitting with moving… but not excessively.
Fact: you can lose weight and be healthy without ever having to set foot in the gym. You don’t need to run. You don’t need to engage in circuit training. You need never look at a treadmill again.
Fun fact about treadmills – they were invented in 1817 by British engineer William Cubitt as a means to torture prisoners. The scope behind it was based behind Vybarr Cregan-Reid’s notion: “The idea of hard labour was that it should punish the prisoner’s heart and soul.”
People who live long and healthy lives incorporate movement in their daily lives purely because they live in environments that promote movement which is low-level, but consistent.
Done regularly enough, it becomes ingrained in your way of life.
Physical activity should be a celebration of what our bodies can do, not penance for the crap we eat.
By nudging ourselves into movement every 20 – 30 minutes through gardening, chores, or even socializing… we begin to introduce natural movement in our way of life.
5. Replace Z with ZZZ’s…and make comfort a priority.
You’d be pleased to learn that skimping out on sleep actually works against your weight loss. Basically, the less sleep you get – in terms of time and quality – the less likely you are to lose weight.
Issues crop up when a tired brain’s reward centers rev up and try to compensate for your foul night by getting you to eat something high in fat and sugar. You know… because it just feels so damn good.
This was actually proven by a study.
Sleep is like nutrition for your brain. Most people need 7 – 9 hours. More towards 9, if you’re working out some.
So it’s really that simple!
Countless success stories have been made without having to seek complicated advice from health gurus. All you need to do is want it.
Tag someone who needs to hear this!