Being healthy is your best choice.
Healthy means “not sick.” Sick means feeling bad and/or having symptoms that send you to the doctor or the emergency room. If they can afford it, sick people take medications. Medications don’t usually cure the sickness but (hopefully) allay the symptoms and ward off dying – at least for now.
It is possible that some issue with your genes will cause you to be messed up, health wise. However that is rare. Instead your diet is likely the biggest contributor.
In other words, “underlying conditions” that make you particularly susceptible to serious illness and death from COVID-19 (and other infections like the flu) are likely to be diet related. The primary underlying conditions are obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and lung issues although there are others as well.
Your ability to cope with infections depends on your immune system. The more of those illness you have, the more your immune system is stressed. If you happen also to be old, your immune system deteriorates as a matter of course. That deterioration means the underlying conditions just make things worse.
So how do you get healthy?
Three questions to answer.
- Are your overweight, especially around the waist?
- Are your triglycerides too high and HDL too low as measured on your blood lipid panel? (If you don’t know, you need to know because they matter.)
- Are you diabetic, have high blood pressure, and/or heart issues?
If any of these are true for you, then you need to start with losing the weight. It is amazing how the other two straighten themselves out when the weight is gone.
If you aren’t fat on the outside but have the other two, that means the fat is on the “inside” which is even worse. This post provides some important detail about the cause of those conditions.
How to lose the weight
There are perhaps hundreds of different “diets” advertised and advised these days. If you study those in depth you will notice one consistent pattern. While they may tell you to eat paleo, or keto, only meat, or no meat, all vegetables or minimal vegetables, one common thing will be true.
Any diet worth it’s salt will tell you to eliminate processed food, the junk food that adds no value nutritionally and is guaranteed to cause you to gain weight.
You will find these “foods” in sacks, boxes, and in bottles at the grocery and the convenience store. Those foods consistent primarily of flour (sometimes in some form of starch), sugar, and vegetable oil. Look at the ingredient list.
Look in your pantry. See what you find. If you find those three ingredients then you may be creating your own junk.
What is so bad about flour, sugar, and vegetable oil?
Flour all by itself is not a bad thing although it contributes nothing nutritionally. But no one is tempted to eat flour by itself. Sugar all by itself actually IS a bad thing but I don’t know anyone who eats sugar all by itself either, at least not out of the sugar bowl. But soft drinks and fruit juices are sugar and should be avoided.
All that the flour and sugar (even when in a drink) contribute to you is energy destined to become body fat.
Picture the mixing bowl. Mix flour and sugar together and imagine eating it. But add some oil (along with an oven) and voila’, you have doubled the energy load. It will be “tasty” and you will find yourself hungry for more.
I’ll write later about the importance of vegetable oil. But it is just not good for you. If you choose to make stuff at home, use fruit oils (avocado, coconut or olive oil) or animal fat (including real butter).
So what should I do?
Cut out stuff in the flour, sugar, and vegetable oil category that you get at the grocery store. For example, store bought bread. If you want bread make your own. If you think you can’t live without donuts, make your own. Are you thinking “I can’t do that” or “I don’t have time to do that? I know. That’s the whole point.
Double your protein and eat some at every meal. Meat protein is full of vitamins, minerals and such. If you are budget challenged then eat lots of eggs (nature’s perfect and inexpensive food), canned tuna or salmon, fish right out of the lake. While flour, sugar and oil together will leave you hungry for more, protein will fill you up.
Along with your protein eat green vegetables at every meal – fresh, canned, or frozen. Vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals, etc. Be sure to check the ingredient list and make sure that the only ingredient is the vegetable.
Never buy into a diet program that wants to send you the food. Not only will it be expensive but you won’t learn how to eat properly all on your own.
Do I have to count anything?
If you can follow the above suggestions there is a good chance you won’t need to count calories, or carbohydrates or anything else. Counting is a pain in the neck and requires spending way too much time thinking about food. Life is too short! For most people it isn’t HOW MUCH but rather WHAT.
How long do I have to do this?
For the rest of your life. This isn’t a short term fix. The goal is to lose the weight and keep it off, have good triglyceride and HDL blood measurements, and have your diabetes gone. If these changes are all it takes, you keep doing what makes you healthy for the rest of your life.
Your excess weight will not fall off immediately. Slowly but surely wins the race.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book hat guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. Her website is http://www.allaboutthefood.org/ She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 870-490-1836. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/patsmithbooks.