To Your Health

Don’t live to eat — eat to live

Obesity is one of the issues we struggle with most in American society. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one third (36.5 percent) of adults are obese, which is one of the major factors contributing to Type 2 Diabetes. Just two of the underlying causes of this illness are overeating and a lack of exercise.

The disease can be multifaceted, but obesity is mostly caused by making poor eating choices. Sometimes people make good ones, but undermine their effort by overeating. When we consume too many calories, they are deposited in our bodies as fat.

Doctors are most concerned about people who have Metabolic Syndrome, also known as “Syndrome X.” It is a combination of abdominal obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol and/or triglycerides (fatty acids).

When people have these symptoms, then diabetes becomes a major factor. It increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and sudden death. 

With diabetes, one’s blood sugar is high, which affects every organ in the body including nerve endings, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, heart, and brain.

It’s one of the worst chronic illnesses.

Watch and eat

We should combat diabetes by watching what we eat, having an adequate amount of exercise, and having the mindset that we are to eat to live rather than live to eat.

Sometimes when we’re bored, or in a vehicle quite a bit, or have to wait, which are common scenarios for most Americans, eating becomes a pastime or a hobby.

When we want to celebrate something, we eat. When we want to reward somebody, we have a party, and, we eat.

Eating has become something other than what it was intended to be. We need to think more carefully about what we do, rather than eat mindlessly and ignore the possible consequences.

We need to plan an eating strategy,  rather than just roll with life. It’s much quicker to “drive–thru” and get some “fast” food. But failing to carefully plan meals can be disastrous to our health. We must take the time to think and prepare good food choices.

There are a percentage of people who get diabetes. Family history or ethnicity reveals that some people are at higher risk. Diabetes can also come as a result of a pregnancy. But certainly, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are contributing factors. Even “doers” are subject to such lifestyles.

Exercise 30/3

Therefore, exercise becomes key. Perhaps we will never achieve an adequate amount in our lifetimes, but just doing something—moving—is really important. The Fitbit app has really helped people see how many steps they take in a day. You should shoot for 10,000 steps a day.

If you want your exercise quantified in time, a good rule of thumb is 30 minutes of exercise a day. This can be divided into three 10–minute sessions a day, or one session lasting 30 minutes.

However, studies have shown that people who exercise 30 minutes in the morning, then eat, but are sedentary the rest of the day, may lose the benefit of their morning exercise.

The sedentary lifestyle is the problem, whether we sit at a desk or in front of a computer or in a vehicle. The human body needs a measured amount of exercise throughout the day to make sure we’re metabolizing and digesting properly, and strengthening bones and muscles.

Eventually, when such exercise—like walking—becomes routine, you will need to go above and beyond that. There needs to be a progression to more difficult exercise.

For many of us, just walking 30 minutes a day, that really is exercise because we’re not doing anything else. But once that becomes our norm, then we’ve got to step it up a bit and exercise more intensely.

‘an ounce of prevention …’

Of all the preventable diseases, diabetes is probably one over which we have the most control. Other problems, such as neuropathy (diseases of the nervous system), heart disease, and fatty liver disease can be minimized or negated by carefully avoiding becoming diabetic.

There are many people who are obese but who are not diabetic. Obesity and diabetes are probably the two big things that are preventable that people can get a hold of and control. It’s just a matter of taking charge of our lifestyles.

Early intervention is a key. For young people, my plea would be that they keep moving. Sitting too much and being overweight does tremendous internal damage.

There are some diabetics who will live a nice, long life and not have any complications. That is rare. However, there are others who will be debilitated and have some real issues while they are still young and long before they retire.

The key is, don’t live to eat—eat to live. Enjoy the wonderful life God has given you—in good health.

by Captain Cindy–Lou Drummond

Captain (Dr.) Cindy–Lou Drummond is the former health officer and assistant training principal at the Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y. She earned her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is now the divisional secretary in the New Jersey Division.


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