Our lives used to be terminated prematurely by childbirth complications, infections, and misadventure.
Today, a large and increasing number of people are succumbing to the effects of calorie poisoning – well before their time. This disease causes elevation of blood-pressure, blood lipids, insulin, and various growth factors, as well as increased metabolic loading. These markers in turn are early indicators for greatly increased risk of heart failure, stroke, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes.
Calorie poisoning – chronically subjecting your body to an excess of calories above the minimum needed for optimal functioning – has existed for as long as people have had ongoing, ready access to surplus food. Ancient royalty is one obvious example.
Today, however, this condition is rampant. Not only is food inexpensive and freely available, it is also specially engineered and promoted to be highly palatable - further stimulating appetite. In addition, social norms have shifted dramatically to make feasting a central aspect of everyday business and personal encounters. Eating out of boredom, anxiety, and depression adds more 'fat to the fire'.
It is a well established fact that weight is determined primarily by the difference between calories consumed and expended – how much you eat, versus what you burn through activity and metabolism. Any surplus increases weight – which in addition to aggravating the various health hazards listed at the beginning – also reduces metabolic efficiency, leading to unnecessary 'wear and tear'. Increased cell activity beyond the minimum required for maintenance, promotes both general cell damage and cancer.
Acute calorie poisoning is found in at least 30 percent of the US population - slashing their healthy life-span almost in half. Most other Americans suffer 'only' from 'milder' forms; their vital years are reduced by 15 to 25 years. Currently only a very small percentage is living with, and benefiting from, an optimal caloric and nutritional balance.
Calorie poisoning is self-inflicted. Personal choices and habits directly determining calorie balance: health awareness, the food you buy, how much and when you eat (and when you stop), what you drink, physical activity, etc.
The good news: There is a cure. With a few fairly simple steps you can stop poisoning yourself, or better still, benefit additionally by practicing CRON Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition. It's not rocket science – however, it does require paying attention to certain decisions you make. It requires changing some of your habits. Here are a few pointers:
Knowledge is Power – Become aware of the differences in calories (and nutrients) in various foods – read the labels. Often lower calorie options are as tasty, or more so (my favorite example: strawberries, extremely nutritious, yet very low in calories - and most people love them). Also, monitor your health markers: weight, blood pressure & lipids, blood sugar & glucose tolerance, etc.
Shopping - Good decisions at the store can make a world of difference. What is conveniently available at home and at the office largely determines what you eat. A rich bowl of fruit on the counter, your favorite vegetables (do you like baby carrots?) in the fridge, and little or no junk food around (at least what you bought) goes a long way to cutting calories, while improving nutrition.
Food selection – At home or at the restaurant, get into the habit of selecting good foods that you really like. Bring new healthy favorites into your life, replacing some of the not-so-good options you would automatically have chosen. The mental trick is adding good things to your life, versus denying yourself 'unhealthy' foods. Some obvious foods that contribute to calorie poisoning are bread, rice, pasta, butter, cheese, and of course sweets. Commonly overlooked calorie hogs are salad dressings, sauces, and drinks.
Eating habits – Rule 1: Eat only when hungry. Rule 2: Stop when or before feeling full. Rule3: Pay attention to your food & enjoy it. Other ideas include ordering small servings, eating from small dishes, skipping meals after 'feasting', and regular fasting.
Exercise - Find activities that you enjoy and that practically fit into your life. They have to become part of your routine. Try to avoid exercising because 'you should', rather use your ingenuity to find something you like doing.
Don't diet – Don't see this as a weight-loss program, but rather as a new lifestyle that permanently improves your calorie balance – and one that you'll enjoy! Weight loss is a by-product. Also, remember that food is not poison; quite the contrary. Food is life-sustaining. It is the excess of calories that is harmful.
Don't deprive yourself – Don't approach healthy living and life-extension from the point of view of "I'm not allowed to eat this". A negative attitude to a reduced calorie lifestyle will undermine it. Eat any of the 'not-so-good' foods you enjoy – just less often, and less of them. A positive view reinforces healthy habits, and prevents 'falling off the wagon'.
Optimizing lifespan does not require starving yourself. What it does require is to avoid poisoning yourself with excess calories (also see: Longevity – Major Factors Determining Life-Span ).
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that much calorie restriction research has it backwards: CR rats are not extending their lives - rather, ad lib rats are being poisoned by calories. The CR rats should be the control in this unnaturally lazy habitat.
We are not lab rats. We can make the conscious choice to be in the long-lived group while still enjoying life.
George Bernard Shaw, always thin, weighed himself everyday and maintained a low weight. He lived to be 94. Asked about his youthfulness at age 68: "So be a good fellow and tell me how you succeeded in remaining so youthful?". Shaw: "I don't. I look my age. It is the other people who look older than they are."