Waist management: How to practice girth control

Looked in a full-length mirror lately? Have you noticed that gravity seems to be taking its toll on your body? Welcome to the reality of getting older.As men age, there seems to be a downward shift as body weight moves from the chest to the abdomen. Even without weight changes registering on the scale, paunches can appear.In women, the change in body shape is more gravity defying. During child-bearing years, women are more likely to be pear-shaped and carry any excess weight around the hips and buttocks but with the onset of menopause, it seems to migrate upward to the mid-section as well.Mid-life ‘apple shape’
But for both sexes, it’s this apple-shaped body with excess abdomen weight that’s hazardous to your health. It’s been linked to various conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

To check out which fruit you resemble – apple or pear – a tape measure is all that’s required. Two simple measurements will indicate if it’s time to get serious about practising “girth” control. Research shows that either a ratio of your waist and hips or just the circumference of your ist alone is a good indicator.

To determine your waist-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For males, the ratio should be less than one. That means the waist would be the same or smaller than the hips. For females, who naturally have larger hips, look for a reading of less than 0.8.

But if the tape measure reveals a waist reading greater than 90 centimetres or 36 inches, then waist management strategies are needed.

Abdominal fat easier to lose
The good news about abdominal fat is that it comes off more quickly than fat from the hips and buttocks. Keep in mind that losing even small amounts of weight can make a difference. Just picture five to 10 pounds of butter coming off your stomach over the next few months and you get the picture.

This weight loss is enough to send elevated blood pressure readings downward as well as improve blood cholesterol profiles. Also, shedding pounds can provide perks for those with adult-onset diabetes and decrease the likelihood of developing breast and colon cancer.

Studies also show certain lifestyle habits can boost the odds of carrying abdominal fat – smoking and excess alcohol consumption. There’s a reason it’s called a beer belly.

The combination of healthy eating and regular exercise that allows for a slow weight loss is the best approach to successful waist management. Rigid diets not only take away the pleasure of eating but are likely to result in giving up and regaining the unwanted pounds.

Higher fat vs. low fat diets
There’s recent research on fat content in diets from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. It showed that over an 18-month weight-loss study, almost three times as many people were able to stick to a higher fat “Mediterranean-style” diet than those study subjects on a low-fat pattern.

In fact, more than 80 per cent of the participants on the low-fat diet dropped out of the study, compared to less than half (46 per cent) of the subjects on the higher fat diet. The scientists found that including limited amounts of heart-healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados made for more palate-pleasing fare and resulted in a greater intake of vegetables and whole grains than those on the low-fat program. And fibre-filled foods tend to be more filling.

Calories are bottom line
The bottom-line, though, for any weight loss to occur is that there must be more calories burned than taken in. To win at weight loss, use Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating – available from your local public health unit – as a foundation for your eating pattern.

  • Don’t skip meals in the hopes of cutting calories. Chances are that you’ll eat more the next time you’re sitting at the table. Instead, eat often, about every three to four hours, to boost metabolic rates and calorie burning.
  • Keep an eye on portions. Instead of service meal family-style, place the main serving platters away from the table. If the food is sitting there uneaten on a platter, it’s too easy to take another serving.
  • While some low-fat diets may be unpalatable, it’s still important to be fat-smart. Broil, grill, stir-fry, steam or poach rather than fry foods.
  • Another weight-loss tip is contained in the soup pot. A recent study showed that having soup tames a wild appetite and can result in fewer calories being consumed later in the day.