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Nutrition and Health

No Fast Food, No TV at dinner time

Start Losing Weight In Just 20 Minutes

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

November 9, 2003

This week toss away all the books on "How to Eat Everything You Want and Lose Weight". Or "Calories Don't Count". Or "How to lose 30 pounds in One Month". And all the other dribble you've been exposed to over the years. Now I'll tell you how to start losing weight in a mere 20 minutes. "Sounds like another gimmick" you say. But you're wrong. This isn't like selling swamps in Florida.

Family history provides me with part of the answer. I've always lead a busy life. Medical school, an active medical practice and constant deadlines. But one routine our family rarely missed. Every night we sat together around the dining room table. Moreover, no fast food was served.

Another part of the routine was indicative. Evening meals were "talk time" which meant no TV during dinner. Nor did any of us rush to see who could get through their meal first. This was relaxation time.

At this point some of you might be thinking, "So far, what I'm hearing is also a lot of dribble and what's earth-shaking about this routine? Not so. I'm whetting your appetite for the key to losing weight.

Losing weight depends on the understanding of the immutable physiological law of the stomach. It requires 20 minutes before the stomach connects with the brain and indicates, "I'm full". So slowing down a meal often means that the second helping or the fancy calorie-filled desert you thought you wanted becomes less desirable. That vital 20 minutes can save you from countless calories that do count.

The 20 minute wait has often cured my appetite for more food. I love ice cream and while enjoying it I usually start thinking of having more. But if I slow down to savour it, or wait before rushing again to the refrigerator, usually the urge has gone. One dish full was sufficient.

I didn't realize until I read a report from Tufts University that there is an organization called, Slow Food. It boasts 65,000 members in 45 countries. It was started by an Italian food-and-wine writer, Carlo Petrini, to protest the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in the heart of Rome.

Slow food wasn't created as a head-on clash with the obesity epidemic. Rather, it began as an endeavour to "protect the right to taste". To stress the concept that meals should be designed to be enjoyed, not quickly wolfed down in a fast food restaurant.

But Carlo Petrini, did in part, have obesity in mind when he started Slow Food. He believed that people would get more out of preparing and dishing up their own food than having complete strangers do it for them. And that in the process meals would automatically become more healthful. This is why Slow Food focuses on organic farming, traditional methods of cooking, and trying to save fruits and vegetables that may become extinct.

I agree that it's prudent to eat a balanced diet. But if Canadians would think less of the amount of fats, carbohydrates and proteins they consume and more about the quantity of calories, there would be less obesity. And waiting a mere 20 minutes before reaching for another helping.

"But I don't have time to sit around for 20 minutes doing nothing", you say. Sorry, but I can't agree. If North Americans can find the time to watch idiotic programs on TV for 22 hours every week, they can find time to cook nourishing meals and linger at the dinner table longer.

My advice is to make the dinner table your meeting and eating place. Of course we all like snacks now and then. But what I see happening today are children and adults eating one day-long binge of junk food, and rarely a nutritious meal. So this year slow down the evening meal, enjoy your table, and try more preparation of your own food. Don't forget the 20 minute law of the stomach as a prime way to lose weight.

If you wish to learn more about the Slow Food organization, its web site is www.slowfood.com


W. Gifford-Jones M.D Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker's website is: docgiff.com.
Dr. Walker can be reached at info@docgiff.com















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