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2013, ECO ANNISAA, HEALTH AND WELLNESS

How to lose weight … the green way

The most shocking health statistics I came across are those related to obesity. Health Canada reports that more than half the Canadian adults are overweight or obese (50.5%), and more than one fifth of youth (12-17 years old) are overweight or obese (21.8%). In addition to low self-esteem, depression, and other psychological problems, obesity also causes: breathing difficulties, difficulties in walking or running, increased sweating, pain in the knees and back, skin conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack and stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other obesity-related diseases. On the other hand, almost half of the Canadian are physically inactive (46.1%). Being inactive can cause: hypertension, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome, and of course obesity and related diseases.

My personal engagement with individuals who take green living seriously led me to a conclusion; green living helps in losing weight or keeping people slim and enables them to maintain a healthy weight. For the purpose of this article, I will call those individuals who maintain an environmentally-conscious life-style, the greens or green people (not with envy!). I have investigated their strategies, their life-style, and interviewed many of them.

Excessive weight gain (when there is no medical issue) is caused mainly by two factors: more food and less physical activity. My informal research led me to conclude that the green life-style helps balance what we eat and what our bodies actually use. Three main strategies enable green people maintaining a healthy weight.

1 – Green living inhibits those urges to consume more:

Approximately one third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally – amounting to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year [1]. Green people don’t fall in the marketing traps that other people fall for, and they are all about anti-consumerism.

According to Donald Radcliffe [2] , “The stomach of an adult is about 10 inches (25 centimeters) long and can easily expand to hold as much as l quart (0.9 liter) of food.”. So, roughly our stomach has a healthy capacity of one liter. However, I have noticed that my green friends only eat what’s equivalent to 250 – 300 ml at a time.  This reminds me of what the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa salam) said: “Man does not overfill a container to worse effect than his stomach. Let suffice the sons of Adam a few mouthfuls to sustain them. Should temptation be too strong for a person, let him make one-third for food, one-third for drink and one third for his breathing.”

During the past 20 years, food portions have increased dramatically. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute [2], bagels doubled in size, cheese burgers doubled in calories, restaurants’ spaghetti servings increased from one cup to two cups, and the most drastic portion increase is French fries portions that tripled in size and calories content. Green people have mastered the art of portion control. In gatherings, my green friends always choose the small size. When served large portion, they eat half the quantity and take the rest home for another meal.

Another interesting observation I noticed when dinning with my green friends is that they eat slowly, they enjoy their meals. Individuals, who appreciate the environment, appreciate those little pleasures that we stopped enjoying.

2 – Green people choose healthier options:

In the Holly Qur’an, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:

“O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors. // And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.” [Surah al-Ma'idah 5:87–88]

And says:

«[Saying], “Eat from the good things with which We have provided you and do not transgress [or oppress others] therein, lest My anger should descend upon you. And he upon whom My anger descends has certainly fallen [i.e., perished].”» [Surah Ta Ha, 20:81]

Green people have an inclination to choose unprocessed foods over processed foods. Environmentally-conscious people are aware of the risks of unsustainable food production methodologies. Green people I mingled with rarely count calories, instead, they make healthier choices by giving preference to unprocessed foods and more vegetables and fruits. Processed foods (including restaurant and fast foods) account for 77% of the sodium we eat [4]. Dr. Heikki Karppanen of the University of Helsinki and Dr. Eero Mervaala of the University of Kuopio [5] report that increasing intakes of sodium (salt) obligatorily produce a progressive increase in thirst. The progressive increase in the average intake of salt explains the observed concomitant increase in the intake of beverages which, in turn, has caused a marked net increase in the intake of calories during the same period.

Our taste buds – during the past two or three decades – have gone through intensive reconditioning and reprogramming. Salt, sugar and fats are additives we add to make food tastier; however, the increasing amounts of these elements in our foods caused our taste buds not to accept the plain taste of the food. And the result is that we eat vegetables drowning in salad dressings and fruits that are preserved in large amounts of sugar.

3 – Green living is all about energy:
Biking

Environmentally-conscious, in their daily quest to save energy tend to choose those options that enhance their physical activity. They tend to take public transit more, and walk and bike. Ryan D. Edwards [6] confirms that: “While no silver bullet, walking associated with public transit can have a substantial impact on obesity, costs, and well-being”. They also tend to do more gardening, snow shoveling, and housekeeping shores. Their physical activity makes the greens enjoy high level of energy that keeps them going all day, feel less tired and more elevated.

While their main motive is saving the environment, green people are protecting themselves from excessive food consumption and idleness. They eat healthier options with less potential risks on their overall well-being.

References:

[1] Gustavsson, J., C. Cederberg, R.Van Otterdijk, and A. Meybeck (2011). “Global Food Losses and Food Waste” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf.

[2] Radcliffe, Donald V. Stomach. Compton’s Encyclopeadia Online v3.0. The Learning Company, 1998.

[3]  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

[4] Health Canada

[5] University of Helsinki (2006, November 13). Salt Intake Is Strongly Associated With Obesity.ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 16, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2006/11/061101151027.htm

[6] Edwards, R. D. (2008). Public transit, obesity, and medical costs: Assessing the magnitudes. Preventive Medicine, 14-21.

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  1. Pingback: How to lose weight … the green way | Hananawad's Blog - July 16, 2013

  2. Pingback: Green Living at Home: How to Start | Ground to Ground - August 24, 2013

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