According to a recent poll of US eating habits by Consumer Reports Health, if you ask an American whether their diet is "healthy", 9 out of 10 will say "somewhat", while 3 out of 10 think they eat "very" healthy, and a small handful (5.6%) say "extremely", this despite the fact that your Average Yank is consuming anywhere from 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars (including glucose, fructose & sucrose) and simple carbs in one year - mostly from sugary sodas, unhealthy transfats, processed carbs, and take-out food. Even more mindboggling is the fact that for every "extremely" healthy type who consumes a scant 5 pounds of sugar annually, there is someone downing more than (or, perhaps, given obesity levels, equal to) their own body weight in the sweet stuff: 295 pounds per year!
"Americans have a tendency to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, but when we asked how many sugary drinks, fatty foods, and fruits and veggies they consumed, we found that their definition of healthy eating was somewhat questionable," notes Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, Consumer Reports Health. "We were surprised to find that very few Americans weigh themselves and count calories, two strategies that can help dieters stay on track. Americans seem to rely instead on their own internal compasses to slim their girths." So when it comes to dieting, Americans are patting themselves on the backs when they should be pinching an inch...& perhaps counting calories (almost 80% rarely or never do) or even weighing themselves (60% don't...ever) - which probably explains why almost 1 in 3 people missed the mark completely when they self-reported their weight, believing they were at a healthy weight when, in fact, their Body Mass Index (BMI) showed they were overweight or obese (3%).
Since the majority of people are obviously delusional when it comes to the state of their weight, let the facts speak for themselves:
- Only 1 in 4 limits sweets & sugars daily, while about the same number limit their fat intake. Only 1 in 5 (20%) curtail their daily carb intake.
- 70% don't eat the minimum recommended daily alotment of fruits & vegetables, primarily because they found veggies too hard to store & too quick to rot. 17% indicated that someone else in the household didn't enjoy vegetables, or that they simply took too long to prepare. 14% cited the high cost, while 13% just plain didn't like them.
Amongst those who do eat vegetables at least once per week, the most popular choices are:
Lettuce or salad greens (78%)
Potatoes other than sweet potatoes (61%)
Interestingly, the anti-veggie crowd who rarely eat them ranked these as their top choices:
Swiss Chard (86%)
Bok Choy (82%)
Turnips & rutabagas (80%)
SIX SMALL CHANGES THAT WILL HELP PEEL OFF THOSE UNWANTED POUNDS
ConsumerReportsHealth makes the point drastic changes to your diet & exercise usually lead to failure, so they offer these easy-to-implement small changes that can add up to a big - and permanent - difference at the scale:
1. STOP DRINKING YOUR CALORIES The soaring rates of weight gain and obesity are undeniably linked to how much sugar - especially High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) - people are drinking, typically in the form of sugary sodas and faux "fruit" juices. Not only does your body automatically store the fructose from HFCS as bodyfat, but your body just doesn't feel as full when instead of eating your calories, you drink them. And, yes, that applies equally to liquid calories from Liquid Courage (booze of any sort).
2. EAT MORE PROTEIN Studies have found that people who eat a higher proportion of calories from protein end up consuming fewer calories overall, which is why in the short term, high-protein, low-carb diets have proven especially effective.
3. CONSUME MORE FIBER Not only does fiber protect against colon cancer and heart disease, it is your weight control BFF: it slows digestion, helps you feel fuller longer, and displaces other caloric foods. Best of all, it comes in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
4. KICK THE "BIG FOOD" HABIT RESIST The food industry works hard to create foods that are simultaneously high in everything bad for your waistline: high sodium, high sugar/carb, high (trans)fat...and stratospheric amounts of calories. But don't just take our word for it; be sure to check out some of the dishes included in the CSPI's Xtreme Eating Awards, such as California Pizza Kitchen's Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak (1680 calories; 3300 mg sodium), Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake from the Cheesecake Factory (1670 calories; 48g saturated fat), and the Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb with sides (1820 calories; 2600 mg sodium; 80g saturated fat).
5. WALK MORE Only 20-25 minutes a day of walking - about 2,000 steps or a mile - burns an additional 100 calories a day, which, day after day really adds up. And if you can't find a single block of time to get your walk on, it still counts if you spread it over the course of the day. The easiest way to know if you're getting your steps in is to buy a small pedometer & leave it clipped discreetly to your waist; trust us, you'll be amazed at how those steps add up when you make even the smallest effort.
6. GET OFF YO' BUTT Sitting burns about as many calories as sleeping, which is why research has proven what your common sense already told you: the more time you spend glued to your computer or TV screen, the more you're likely going to weigh. Activities like standing upright washing dishes, getting dressed, and filing papers can double your metabolic rate compared to sitting, so look for opportunities to stand up and move around.
For more tips, tricks & other weapons to help battle the bulge, check out ConsumerReportsHealth.org.
- Lesley Scott
...& DON'T MISS: