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Things aren't what they seem

January 20, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
We all know at least one person who seems to eat anything they want and never gain weight.

It is blamed on genetics much of the time, but is genetics really the issue? Have you ever really watched your friend to see how much they really are taking in?

According to a recent program on Discovery Health network, there is no basis for believing that genetics plays a role in metabolism. Certainly some people have a higher metabolism than others, but is it because of something they get from their parents or is it behavior?

Everyone needs a minimum amount of calories each day to live. Our brain, heart, lungs, the creation of new cells, digestion, respiration and circulation all use calories to function. Even when sitting like a stone, our bodies are working and burning calories. This is called our metabolic rate. Most people have a metabolic rate of somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day depending your size, physical activity and what I call “natural tendencies.”

For example, my husband has always been somewhat on the thin side and if someone were to watch him eat each day, they might wonder how he manages to stay slim. But I live with him, so I can see things that other people can’t. For example, I know of the days when he skips breakfast or lunch because he is simply to busy to take the time for a meal. I see him sitting in his chair constantly fidgeting, tapping out the intro to “Wipe Out” with his fingers or toe-tapping to commercial jingles while he watches television. He is always moving. I; on the other hand, can sit totally motionless until a kink or a tingle forces me to move a leg or a foot just to wake it up. He also works at a job where he spends more time on his feet, while I sit at a desk much of the day.

And I watch him eat. He doesn’t always have to have something on his fork. He will portion a forkful of food into his mouth and then sit with his fork in the air as if in suspended animation as he chews, before ever thinking of putting another bite of food on his fork. In contrast, I generally have a forkful ready to go in my mouth as soon as there is available space. Although he gives the impression of eating a lot of food, invariably, there is food left on his plate by the time he proclaims the meal is over. By then, I am working on my refill. While he takes in just what he needs to balance his metabolism, I am taking in more calories than I am burning, and we all know what happens next.

The next time you think you are getting the raw end of the deal because someone you know can eat as much as they want and never gain weight, take a closer look at not only how much they are actually eating and not just when you see them munching a Honey Bun once in a while. Take note of behaviors that may be triggering a faster metabolism. This is not to mean that you should train yourself to fidget. But you shouldn’t be so quick to whine that it isn’t fair, because it probably is.

This morning was exceptionally cold and I wanted something warm to start my day. So I began with one packet of Quaker Heart Healthy instant oatmeal (because it is lower in sugar and higher in protein than other instant oatmeal products); a quarter cup of frozen raspberries thawed in the microwave; one cup of skim milk and my usual morning tea with two teaspoons sugar.

By lunch time my husband called to say he was stopping at Subway on his way home from work and did I want something. I ordered a turkey sub on wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and green peppers. I asked for no cheese and no dressing and at home, I drizzled on one teaspoon olive oil and one teaspoon balsamic vinegar. I also had a bottle of water and poured in a tube of sugar-free instant raspberry ice tea mix.

Since my husband was sleeping late from the shift he worked overnight, I wasn’t sure what time he would be up for dinner. About 4 p.m., I decided I’d better eat something so I wouldn’t be ravenous later. I had a bowl of leftover salad from Saturday with apples and walnuts with two teaspoons olive oil salad dressing. I also tossed in some leftover salmon from the day before.

We didn’t have dinner until 7 p.m. I made a beef roast with mashed potatoes, spinach with vinegar and lima beans as well as a cup of non-fat milk. I also had one tablespoon gravy on the potatoes.

After looking over today’s intake, I see I was low in grains and fruit.


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Breakfast: 1 serving grains; 1/4 cup fruit; 1 cup dairy; 30 discretionary calories (sugar)