Battle of bulge seems to be already lost in many households. “We are helpless – we can pay for the best gym, trainer and avoid eating out. “But she can’t seem to lose weight”, a father of a young college girl confided in me. As family members struggle to maintain or lose weight; despondency and depression creeps in with self-imposed social isolation
Family is an important support system for an individual’s health. According to me, a family plays an important role in weight gain by transmitting obesity genes and an unhealthy environment. Family has to play the role of a pivot around which successful weight loss and health of its members can be restored.
Here, are a few weight loss strategies for your loved ones.
- Acceptance of obesity as a disease is the most significant step which shifts the person’s status from being a culprit to a victim. Obese people feel hounded by unsolicited advice from family, friends and even strangers. Without realising that the person is suffering from a disease over which he has no control.
- A weight loss attempt is successful only if, healthy food is cooked at home. A weight loss program should target the family and not an individual.
- The most common source of excess calories in modern society is food served in restaurants and social events. Family can plan meals before stepping out for a social event. Opt for restaurants serving healthy food. This will help you avoid consuming calorie dense, high fat and high carb foods.
- Tendency to gain weight usually runs in family. Unfortunately, the younger and heavier persons have to face the criticism. While, other family members (who are on a heavier side) avoid exercising and continue to eat wrong foods. This results in frustration and lack of respect for seniors. Family members can set an example by leading a healthier lifestyle. Most of the youngsters look up at their elders for inspiration.
- Excessive emphasis on exercising for weight loss is unrealistic. As most of the studies consider regular exercising important for better health and weight maintenance. However, it has limited role in significant
- In most Indian households food is cooked to receive appreciation and acceptance by the family members. Taste reigns supreme and health considerations are given a go by. Excessive use of fats, white flours and sugar result in consumption of 3000-4000 calories per person. While, only 1500-2500 calories are required daily. It is essential that family discusses this issue to make sure that food at home is always healthy irrespective of social or cultural practices.
- Culturally sweets are exchanged during festivals and to celebrate an occasion. Also, gifting chocolates after a trip is a norm. All these gets stored in refrigerators and gradually consumed by the most vulnerable person in the family. Gifting culture should change to healthier options like proteins, millets and fruits. Remember you reap what you sow.
The author is a senior Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeon, Director, Center of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals.