Turns out it really is what’s on the inside that matters most.
The television show that helps people change their lives and better themselves is back. That’s a pretty vague description, I know – it could be used for virtually any reality show out there. Would it narrow it down if I said it’s the one that pushes contestants to their absolute limits to help them lose weight? Now you know what I’m talking about; The Biggest Loser is back on Australian televisions with families competing to lose the most weight and gain that big cash prize.
I’ve always been skeptical about The Biggest Loser. It dramatically changes lives through gruelling exercise and an intense diet to lose the weight that has been impacting on their health and quality of life, but is it really done in the right way?
Yes, it’s amazing to see the transformations and to see what these people can become, but it doesn’t exactly promote sustained weight loss with contestants shedding large amounts of weight per week – much more than the recommended 0.5-1kg for healthy weight loss.
The Biggest Loser in America was slammed by former contestants recently, saying that the way they were treated was dreadful and that the show caused them health problems. Long, intense workouts, baby food diets and constant fat-shaming from trainers caused their mental health levels to drop.
Former contestants also allege that many others that have been on the show have gained back the weight they lost during the season. While this is not a surprise, it backs up the point that the show’s way of weight loss is unsustainable, and is merely for entertainment and shock value.
So, what do we really need to think about when we watch The Biggest Loser this season? We need to evaluate whether it’s worth watching overweight contestants sweat out all of their fluids for days on end to gain a money prize. We need to evaluate what their health is worth. And we need to evaluate what our health is worth and how we see ourselves.
If there’s anything that we can get out of The Biggest Loser, it should be that we need to take action now. If the kilograms are starting to creep on, it’s best to sustainably get yourself back to a better quality of life, with a healthy diet and safe exercise. We have health professionals who are willing to help and the best cure is actually prevention.
Image via illawarramercury.com.au
Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions with 2 billion people worldwide now reported to be overweight. With fast food at our fingertips and sweets every which way we look, it’s easy to see why temptation overrules our voice of reason.
The good thing is, however, we’re not crazy in our inability to stop craving these foods, because according to researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, fat has a “taste sensation” that keeps us wanting more. What’s more, scientists believe that the discovery of this could lead to tackling the epidemic once and for all.
“Our experiments provide a missing element in the evidence that fat has a taste sensation, and that it is different from other tastes,” Professor Richard Mattes, director of Purdue’s Ingestive Behaviour Research Centre, told The Independent.
“Identifying the taste of fat has a range of important health implications. At high concentrations, the signal it generates would dissuade the eating of rancid foods,” he explains.
“But at low levels, it may enhance the appeal of some foods by adding to the overall sensory profile, in the same way that bitterness alone is unpleasant but at appropriate levels adds to the appeal of wine and chocolate.”
Researchers believe that as a result of identifying fat as its own flavour – just like sweet, sour and salty – it will help to create fat replacements, which Mattes pointed out has been unsuccessful up until now because scientists have failed to nail the taste of it.
The research, published in the journal, Chemical Senses, comes off the back of a study conducted by Deakin University that found taste was one of the primary reasons some of us overate. Because fat is a vital contributor to feeling full, they discovered that people who couldn’t taste it in their food were less likely to recognise that they were full compared to those who could.
“These results suggest that the ability to taste fat is linked with the fullness experienced from fat,” professor Russell Keast, a researcher in sensory science, told the Daily Mail.
“If you do not taste fat or experience the fullness associated with eating fatty food, you are likely to be more hungry and consume more energy after an earlier fatty meal. And as we know, over-consumption of foods – particularly fatty foods – is associated with people being overweight or obese.”
Should we be pleased or concerned with this research, however? If there is in fact a link between the taste of fat and overeating, will this then lead to even more genetically modified products on our supermarket shelves?
What do you think?
Ever been on a diet, lost the weight and then put it back on? This has to do with conditioning; a type of learning that occurs, which dictates how we behave. If you want more control over your weight; learning about conditioning is better than any diet, you will ever try.
What is conditioning?
Conditioning is the basis of how we learn to behave. This includes our habits, which cause us to be the weight we are. Three types of conditioning have been identified; classical, operant and observational. Each plays a vital role in controlling weight gain and loss.
Learning via association. For example: have you ever been to movies and headed straight to the snack bar for some popcorn, even though you aren’t hungry? That’s classical conditioning at work. In many people’s minds, they associate a trip to the movies with popcorn or a snack, while they relax and enjoy a movie.
For people wanting more control over their weight, they need to be aware of conditioning which pre-exists for them, about food and exercise. As an example; if you consume your nightly meal on the lounge, in front of the TV (as many people do); each time you sit down to watch TV, there is a greater chance of you associating this activity, with eating. This is why it’s recommended that you find a designated place to eat; like at the dinner table. This reduces the likelihood of eating in front of the TV at night.
Some people also find that they eat when they experience different moods or physical states; such as being tired, anxious, confused or worried. Eating, is therefore, a coping mechanism. From past experience, food made them feel better and it becomes a viable solution, each time they experience this feeling. The only way to cease it, is to identify, acknowledge and change these types of associations.
Learning via consequences. For all behaviours, we are either rewarded or punished. Rewards encourage us to increase a behaviour, while punishment reduces it. These can be added or removed. For example; when we diet, we are usually rewarded with removal of weight. However, when we gain weight, we are punished by addition of weight.
Rewards and punishments, encourage which behaviours to choose. Sometimes the punishment of weight gain, isn’t enough to deter, increased weight gain. Perhaps the reward of consuming particular foods, overrides the compulsion to avoid the punishment of excessive weight gain.
Learning via observing others. For example; large people usually have large family members. Sure, genetics comes into play, but learning and adapting the habits of parents is much greater. Children are like sponges, absorbing a significant amount of knowledge from their role models. If their role models are healthy and active; they will likely, be so too.
By the time kids reach adulthood, they have learned a great deal from mere exposure. For example; if you take the kids shopping, be aware, they are learning what types of foods to put into the trolley. Even if it appears they aren’t really paying attention; repetition and exposure is teaching them. This is primarily where most habits begin.
Lastly, when you become fully aware of the roll food and exercise plays in your life, long term weight control can be achieved. Ask yourself these 6 vital questions and you will be well on your way.
- Why are you eating?
- When are you eating?
- Where are you eating?
- What are you eating?
- Who’s watching you eat?
- Exercise… pleasure, pain, chore or choice?
By Kim Chartres