|Wed Oct 18, 2006 - 10:20 AM EDT - By Jay Gross|
The electronic media is always on a rant. Besides sex scandals, politics, and other heinous crimes, their current theme song is how obese we�re all getting. Ever see a fat news anchor?
The gravy train -- make that the sausage biscuits and gravy train -- just kept on rolling in most of America last year, with 31 states showing an increase in obesity.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD - .pdf file) says:
In the United States, the obesity rate among adults (30.6% in 2002) is the highest in OECD countries, followed by Mexico (24.2% in 2000) and the United Kingdom (23% in 2003).
It�s a plot, I tell you, a diabolical, evil-villain-driven, mad-scientist-approved, twelve-eyed-monster-certified scheme to give chunky people a complex. Or an eating disorder. Follow the money trail and maybe you�ll discover the liposuction lobby and a bunch of diet book publishers gleefully endorsing this week�s anorexic starlet and designing the next stupid diet fad. Fat we might be � note the inclusive pronoun, here � but we Americans support the diet industry in fine style. Too fine.
The food industry is just as culpable. Read the "Nutrition Facts" labels on nearly every food item in a supermarket, and you�ll understand why we�re overweight. High fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, and hydrogenated oils � the companies slather these staples of weight gain in everything, even bread, of all things, and then label them �natural,� �healthy,� and other misleading, wrong, and just plain tacky terms.
Then there�s fast food, the essential staple that was somehow overlooked in the recent revision of the nutrition pyramid. Fast and fatty. Did you catch Morgan Spurlock's film "Supersize Me" where he documented his experiment on himself by eating nothing but McDonalds three times a day for a month? Scary stuff. You might as well stay home and wolf down a large homemade chocolate cheesecake with ice cream on the side. And a cookie. It�ll taste better, cost less, and tick up the calorie scale just as bad.
The fact is, it�s difficult to diet. Flash! Is that news to anyone? Personal experience is talking here - I�m an expert at dieting, with more experience at it than I�m willing to admit. Obesity runs in my family, both sides of it, so I got it honest. That doesn�t make my weight any easier to control, so for most of my life it�s been way out of control. I have had episodes of not-too-bad, however, sometimes years at a time, and for the most part I�ve enjoyed great health, chunkiness notwithstanding.
One thing I can tell you about dieting: To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. It�s that simple and that difficult at the same time.
There are no magic pills, no amazing fat burners, no high-tech or low-tech or any-tech solutions that work any other way, regardless of what they claim or how much they cost, and regardless of the before-after testimonials, fictional or otherwise. Regardless of celebrity endorsements, too. You can diet without counting calories, but you can�t lose weight without reducing intake below caloric consumption. So, calorie counting is a good, simple, cheap way to monitor that.
Enter CalorieKing�s Diet Diary for Palm OS. This extensive program lets you keep track of a variety of important dietary and activity factors in your Treo (Palm OS models). It tracks calorie (energy) intake and usage (i.e., exercise), in addition to consumption of protein, liquid, carbohydrate, and fiber.
The app is close kin to the company�s Nutrition and Exercise Manager for Windows and Mac OS, and will sync with it so you only have to maintain one set of data. For Windows Mobile Treos, only the company�s (enormous!) foods database is available, not the Diary. That lets you look up the foods and inspect how bad (or good) they are for your diet�s goals, but doesn�t keep track of daily totals or perform any of the neat graphing functions.
Diet Diary for Palm OS installs only in main memory, consuming 500K of that precious resource. The 50,000-entry database, however, will run from an SD card. The database is under constant � daily, the company says - revision and expansion. Indeed, the handheld version supplies a simple way to report errors in the program�s nutritional panels.
If you just want the database, you can access it online for free on the company�s attractive and informative website. Admirably low-key in self promotion, the website offers the same search and browse functions as the Treo app, but it also displays �Caloric Density� information, which the handheld software does not.
The first step in using Diet Diary is to establish �before� statistics. The program supplies menu items for Weight Check-in and Personal Profile. These take in information about your current weight, height, gender, and level of activity. The program calculates a target for you, but you can choose to enter your own. If you decide to customize, you can set individual goals for intake of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.
The menus remain accessible so you can perform a weight check-in from time to time. As your weight changes (up or down), or your level of activity changes (say, to �sedentary� from �bedridden�) the program automatically adjusts your intake targets � any of which you can still override.
Once set up, the next step is to log your meals and exercise. Use the pull-up menu at the bottom of the screen to add breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or a period of physical activity. You can have multiples of each � three breakfasts if you like � in any order. You can even name them as you choose: �brunch,� �late supper,� �TV snack,� or �soap opera cocktail.� After you add them, however, you can�t change their order. The timing isn�t so important, though, just the nutritional totals for the meals and snacks.
With copious warnings about the high caloric content of alcohol, the diary�s database provides data for many common cocktails, highballs, and other dietary diversions. However its Tips section offers advice for skipping and diluting drinks.
Same with fast food. Whoppers, Wendy�s fare, you name it. Most of it�s listed in the database, and you shouldn�t even need a Tip to know they all blast your diet to smithereens.
The good part is, though, if you do go out to eat � where dieting is maximum pain � you can find much of the fare�s nutrition, or lack of it, already detailed. An Applebee�s entr�e, for example.
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