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I bought a book from Amazon recently entitled, The 1200 Calorie A Day Menu Cookbook.  I figured that this book would come in handy since this is the amount of calories that Weight Watchers is allowing me per day.  Of course, they use “points,” but the concept is the same.  A “point” is worth about 50 calories, and at my current weight, they’re allowing me 20 points a day, plus 35 “bonus points” a week.  I’ve incorporated those “bonus points” into my daily intake because a person cannot function on a thousand calories a day for very long.  That isn’t healthy.  That is encouraging the body to go into the starvation mode and actually slows the metabolism.  Even 25 points a day — or roughly 1250 calories — isn’t much food on a daily basis, but it’s better than 1000 calories a day.  At 1000 calories a day, I’m hungry all the time.

The book is completely uninspiring, but just what the hell can you really do with 1200 calories a day?  One can eat chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, a very small amount of rice, noodles, pasta, potatoes.  No wonder the author didn’t put any pictures in the book.  What’s to take a picture of?  A naked chicken breast with some green beans laying next to it and a small mound of rice.  Here’s dinner!

The number one health concern in the United States these days is weight control.  Obesity is at epidemic proportions, and there is no disputing the claims that obesity leads to a host of other health problems: cardiovascular disease, diabetes,  joint issues, back problems.  Doctors are lecturing patients on these risks and promoting weight loss goals.  Never before are so many people pursuing weight loss goals, enrolled in programs, attending meetings, receiving weekly “encouragement” phone calls from their managed health plans. 

Never before are so many people like me: if I’m not actively pursuing the goal of losing weight (which is seldom), I’m fretting about the fact that I’m not actively involved in a weight loss program.  Honestly, folks, not a day has gone by in the past 17 years that I haven’t thought about losing weight.  Actually, when you stop to think about it, that sucks, especially since I started thinking about it daily when I weighed only 112 pounds.  (I now weigh 139 pounds after losing seven pounds this month.  The height/weight tables say that at 5-feet tall, I should weigh between 102-128.)

I looked at that book this morning and thought, Well, of course, one can’t stick to a plan like this for very long!  There is no joy in it!  At 1200 calories a day,  there is no joy in eating and drinking.  At 1200 calories a day, food and drink are at a level of sustaining the basic metabolic processes.  The fun is gone from food and beverage.  It’s a thing of the past.  That’s a huge loss — absolutely no pun intended! 

All of the current emphasis on diet and exercise does nothing to address some underlying issues.  The underlying issues are that we are a stressed, overworked society where families are relying on two jobs — or more! — to support their existence.  So much time is spent on the job, commuting to and from the job, and then dealing with other chores and errands during “leisure time” that there is no time for high-quality menu planning, food preparation, and an exercise program that works in an hour of moderate-to-aerobic exercise a day.  We’re eating on the run, grabbing fast food, buying easy-to-prepare prepackaged foods, and foregoing the expense of fresh fruits and vegetables.  An exercise program?  Not unless you count running from one job to the next so you can make ends meet! 

Yeah, we’re overweight, but this is a pervasive societal and cultural issue that will only change unless some of the underlying factors change and support healthier habits in our society.  The way things are now, I don’t see this changing anytime in the near future.                 

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