Time to take action, man!

Nutrition team

Overweight issues are not just confined to women anymore. In the UK, two out of three men are overweight or obese. If current trends continue, it is estimated that as early as 2010 this will increase to three quarters of the male population. In Ireland, obesity affects 20% of men according to the North South Food Consumption Survey. A further 46% of men are overweight. In women, the rates have also increased, but not so dramatically.

Men are therefore more likely than women to suffer the consequences of being overweight and obese including higher risks of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Overall health is still the biggest reason why men are motivated to lose weight, but increasingly other factors are coming into play such as body image and fitness. We live in a world where women experience enormous pressure to be and stay thin.

The same pressure doesn’t exist to such an extent in men, but it is slowly on the increase. Even with all the exposure to men’s health these days, particularly from the media, the explosion of fatness in men has not slowed down.

The reason for becoming and remaining overweight or obese varies between women and men. In general, men tend to be less conscious of healthy eating than women, and are more likely to drink alcohol to excess. On the other hand, men are more likely to be physically active than women – but most are nevertheless not physically active enough to gain health benefits.

Men are less likely to be concerned about becoming overweight, more likely to fail to notice that they have gained weight, and more likely to deny they have a problem once they are overweight. Women may be partly responsible for overfeeding men as traditionally, the loving wife and mother is one that piles her husband and son’s plate high with food.

Whilst that may have been acceptable a couple of generations ago when more men were doing physical work, nowadays more men are sitting at a desk all day.

Being fed a lot of food early in life means that this habit may track into adulthood. Now, since around a quarter of our food intake is eaten outside the home, and restaurant food tends to be higher in fat that home-cooked food, this means that becoming overweight would virtually become inevitable if you are in the habit of eating large quantities, especially if your work involves numerous business lunches.

Despite the much higher prevalence of overweight and obesity in men, men are massively under-represented in weight management programmes. For instance only 26% of participants in the national primary care “counterweight” intervention were men. Men are also much less likely to have their weight routinely recorded by their GP.

If you are a bloke and if you are overweight, it’s time to start thinking about what you are eating and what it’s doing to your body - to take responsibility for your health. To date, little work has been done to address the problem of male overweight and obesity.

Most advice is aimed at women, especially when it is provided by the media. If this is the case, slimming on the Internet may be a useful method for you. We offer a private, personalised plan, an online community with a support board dedicated to men, the support of our staff, regular mailings and of course, newsletter articles.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Decide how you want to look and go get it!
Tackle it like a work project – give yourself a deadline and a series of milestones that you want to achieve. Monitor your progress and review it on a regular basis. Remember to use realistic but achievable goals.

Cut down on your fat intake
Grill rather than fry, choose lean cuts of meat, eat more fish and poultry, spread butter or margarine thinly on your bread. Don’t pour on the olive oil when you are cooking - add it a teaspoon at a time, grate cheese to make it go further, switch to low fat milk. Reduce your intake of desserts, chocolate and crisps.

Watch the portion sizes
Slowly cut down on the amount of food you are eating and try to eat according to your activity level. If you normally have three sausages, switch to two, if you normally use four rounds of bread to make your sandwiches, use three. Use smaller bowls and plates when serving your dinner or dessert and don’t go back for seconds.

Take a look at your pattern of eating
If you don’t get home until late at night and then eat a big meal soon before you go to bed, consider eating your main meal in the middle of the day and then a small snack later on. This may give you the energy to go to the gym after work as well.

Always eat breakfast to prevent you reaching for those fatty snacks mid-morning. Look to identify any obstacles that have caused you to make poor choices in the past.

Be food aware when eating out
Decide to have two courses and no more. Avoid anything with creamy sauces. Fill up on vegetables and don’t add any extra side orders. Go for pasta, rice or potatoes instead of chips.

Go easy on the alcohol
A pint gives you around 125-150 calories – three or four of those and the ‘belly’s definitely going to get you’. Cutting down on alcohol will make a huge difference to your body size.

Start exercising
Many people were put off in school by the fact that if they didn’t make ‘the team’ they were a failure when it came to sports and exercise. Thankfully, exercise is a little more inclusive these days. Yes, if you head down the gym, there will be muscle-bound guys preening in front of the mirrors, but there will be plenty of ‘normal blokes’ like you there too!

Don’t let it put you off. There are loads of other options too - golf, swimming, jogging, cycling, walking and any of the team sports. Just start slowly and build up gradually. Exercise is also a known energy booster and stress-reliever and you won’t regret doing your workout afterwards.

*If you have been thinking about losing weight for a while, it’s time to take action. It’s your body, it’s your health and it’s your choice. What are you waiting for?

Start a diet plan at tescodiets.com

Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.