Choose Nutrition

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I love food. I'm pretty flexible on what kind of food (I'm not a fan of olives), but I will eat sweet or savoury. I've recently acquired a taste for halloumi, asparagus and broccolini (but not all together). I am a particular fan of chocolate, but also love pancakes. The photo of the pancakes here were made by my daughter for Mother's Day in 2015. They were perfect, a little bit crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with berries, icecream and Canadian maple syrup. When I go to Canada I bring home syrup - it's divine.

I also love photography, so I will take a photo of just about any food. This is a slice of pizza from room service when I was in Toronto in 2016. It was perfect - thin crispy crust, melted cheese and pineapple and tomato that didn't burn the top of your mouth when you ate it. It is possible (almost) to make any food look good in a photo, particularly when you are such an admirer. But what does all this eating do for my health, and my waistline.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2014, 1.9 billion adults were overweight (I was one of them) and 600 million were obese (yes, I was one of them too).  Being overweight is defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which may impair your health. This is a really important definition, because it is very different from the concept of being 'socially thin', which has nothing to do with whether you are actually overweight. If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25, you are clinically rated as overweight, and if your BMI is 30 or more than you are classed as obese. BUT BMI is only an indication because everyone has a different 'OK' weight depending on their gender, their height, their level of fitness and how old they are. How do you work out your BMI - you divide your weight by your height, but you can also use an online calculator.

Using your waist measurements is also a good way to get an idea of whether you are an ideal weight. You can get an estimate of your risk  of poor health outcomes using BMI and waist measurement.   Having a large waistline (called abdominal obesity or "having an apple shape.") is a important consideration when it comes to risk of chronic disease.   Having extra fat in the waist area is a greater risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) than having extra fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.  If you have done an online test for BMI or risk (or you have taken a look in the mirror and thought about your health), and you think you might be overweight, it's good to talk to a health professional about ways to reduce your risk of chronic disease by improving your health.

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and asthma.  The list below highlights the health issues that become more prevalent in people who are obese.  This information comes from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Health issues that may arise if you are overweight

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD):  CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary arteries. If there are problems, you might get Angina, have a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.

Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a disease in which the body's blood glucose, or blood sugar, level is too high. Diabetes is a leading cause of early death, CHD, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness.

Abnormal Blood Fats: Abnormal levels of blood fats include high levels of triglycerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. Abnormal levels of these blood fats are a risk factor for CHD

Cancer: Being overweight or obese raises your risk for colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder cancers.

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a common joint problem of the knees, hips, and lower back. The condition occurs if the tissue that protects the joints wears away.

Sleep Apnoea: One or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. A person who has sleep apnoea may have more fat stored around the neck. This can narrow the airway, making it hard to breathe

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome: In Obesity hypoventilation syndrome, poor breathing results in too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia).

Reproductive Problems: Obesity can cause menstrual issues and infertility in women.

Gallstones: Gallstones are hard pieces of stone-like material that form in the gallbladder. They're mostly made of cholesterol. Gallstones can cause stomach or back pain.  Being overweight may result in an enlarged gallbladder that doesn't work well.

I'm not a fan of saying 'no'. If I tell myself I can't eat this or that, I tend to want it more. So I decided to CHOOSE NUTRITION.  This means I starting looking carefully at what I eat.  I'm always on the look out for an alternative with an improved the nutrition content (like this breakfast from Jimmy's on the Mall, Brisbane AUS).  Junk food is empty of nutrition so you seek more of it (and more calories) to try and fill up. I still enjoy junk food, but I have tried to increase my nutritious meals and to experiment when I am out at restaurants (rather than always choosing deep fried fish and chips - another favourite).  I am also slowly changing my supermarket purchases to help build a healthy digestive system.

The photo here was taken at a lunch I had with my mother at Georgetown in the US.  Grilled Portobello, with Quinoa and wild rice pilaf, with sunflower seed pesto.  I loved the sunflower seed pesto, I had no idea what Portobello was but I ordered it anyway. Turns out it's mushroom - not a favourite unless it's as a sauce on steak. I think I got it confused with Porkbelly, but at least I tried it and now I know.

And yes, this is a photo of nuts (some are good for you and some are not so good).  What daily choices can you change to improve your nutrition intact?  I have a new breakfast routine, and am trying to swap out some poor choices.