Being overweight or obese places you at a greater risk of developing health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, kidney disease, and many other chronic conditions. The contributory risk factors associated with being overweight or obese involves a poor nutrition/diet and physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle. Modifying the risk factors can help achieve a healthy weight and prevent potential health risks through proper diet and physical exercise.
When it comes to losing weight, you need to know what exactly you want to achieve. Are you overweight? Why do you need to lose weight? The answer to these questions is what guides you in determining the amount of weight you want to lose. Reflecting on this myself, I chose to commence on a journey towards achieving a healthy weight during the fall of 2018. I have come across people suffering from diabetes, cancer, and heart conditions at a very young age and many people continue to lose their lives. My motivation to lose weight was the need to prevent potential weight-related risks. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.”
Creating a healthier lifestyle to lose weight always comes with a cost. The key to healthy weight loss goes hand in hand with diet and exercise. It calls for self-discipline, self-motivation, and commitment to making small changes in both your diet and exercise. I decided to focus first on my health through diet, exercise, and sleep. Insufficient sleep or sleep disturbance can also lead to chronic conditions. I walked for an average of 20-30 minutes daily, but then I started to focus on my diet. On October 15, 2018, I started a new meal program, which I called “My100Plates”. The 100 plates on an average comprised of vegetables (40-45%), fruits (10-15%), proteins (20-25%), grains (15-20%), dairy & fats (10-15%). The average calories for each plate ranged from 350 to 700 calories.
Achieving a significant weight loss is a matter of flooding your mind with positive thoughts and motivation. I have taken pictures of each plate to keep me motivated and also keep track of a variety of food combinations.
The sources of food categories for my diet include:
- Vegetables: – spinach, kale, collard greens, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, avocado, squash, zucchini, celery, carrots, peppers (red, green, orange, yellow), tomatoes, sweet potato, cabbage, corn, cauliflower, green peas, cucumbers, lettuce, lime juice, Brussels sprouts, sugar snap pea, garlic, and onions.
- Fruits: – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, grapes, apple, orange, pomegranate, pear, banana, peach, plum, and dry fruits.
- Carbohydrates: – whole-grains bread, oatmeal, rice, and tortillas.
- Proteins: – chicken breast, turkey breast, salmon, tilapia, egg whites, and mushrooms.
- Nuts: – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans.
- Dairy products: – low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.
- Fats: – olive oil and canola oil.
Methods of Preparation:
- Smoothies with a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
- Stir-fry with olive oil, minced garlic, and onion with a variety of vegetables.
- Indian Curries with a mix of vegetables, and spices.
- Grilled meats and vegetables.
- Wraps/sandwiches stuffed with vegetables and meat.
The categories of food in My100Plates meal are richly packed with significant amounts of both macro- and micronutrients; the calories come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The micronutrients include vitamins (A, B complex, C, D, E, K) and minerals (Iron, zinc, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, iodine, copper, and fluorine). These micronutrients act as antioxidants, which fight against cancers. The vegetables, fruits, and whole grains contain high levels of fiber, phytonutrients, and flavonoids that help to prevent many life-threatening diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and diet-related cancers.
It is worth noting that My100Plates meal is mostly composed of highly nutritious plant-based foods with a lower caloric intake. Subsequently, fewer calories not only amplify your belly-bloating effect but also provide a hunger-squelching impact to boost your body-fat metabolism for effective weight loss. The low-fat and reduced caloric intake also helps to moderate your eating behavior by minimizing your food cravings, and also keeping you relaxed and free from distress, thus promoting a positive impact on weight loss. The high levels of nutrients keep your body energized for optimum performances, help maintain the health of your skin (anti-aging effect), improve vision, and promote healthy growth of strong teeth and bones.
Experiences from people who have been through a successful weight loss program serve as a motivation to remain committed in your healthy diet. It becomes easier to make healthy choices by feeling surrounded by people whom you share similar-minded goals. For me, my sister, who followed a daily strict diet and regular exercise regimen for the past 14 years, and my friend, who controlled diabetes through diet and walking for 16 years, were my sources of inspiration.
My Benefits of “My100Plates” Meal plan
Quantitative: I lost 15 pounds in 33 days (186 to 171) and my BMI (Body Mass Index) decreased from 25.9 (overweight) to 23.8 (normal range). The total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol reduced significantly. My lab values from Feb 2018 and Jan 2019 and the differences are shown below.
- Total Cholesterol – 219
- Triglycerides – 163
- LDL Cholesterol – 133
- Total Cholesterol – 167
- Triglycerides – 122
- LDL Cholesterol – 95
Difference from 2018 and 2019
- Decreased Total Cholesterol – 52
- Decreased Triglycerides – 41
- Decreased LDL Cholesterol – 38
Qualitative: I felt energetic and active throughout the day, slept well, and have glowing skin.
The Way Forward:
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful screening tool that can be used to assess a person’s weight status concerning potential risk of disease. Typically, a healthy weight ranges between a BMI of 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI below 18.5 indicates being underweight, between 25.0 and 29.9 indicates being overweight, and greater or equal to 30.0 indicates obesity. My BMI was within the scope of overweight (25.9), and My100Plates meal program helped me achieve a healthy weight.
The improved lab results and weight loss show that My100Plates meal program is a visible reality that you can also put to the test. Effective weight loss programs are usually slow and steady, but only a few people who are patient win the race. The majority of people often opt to drop out long before achieving the particular weight they desired. For me, the initial week was difficult and it was very hard to keep up with the regimen. However, I saw good results from the second week onwards that motivated me to complete the course. I was also cautious in making my plate when I attended parties and restaurant.
We have a responsibility to take good take care of ourselves and to encourage our families, friends, and community members to adopt healthy lifestyles. Let us pledge to follow healthy meal and prevent diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, chronic kidney disease, cancer etc.
In February of 2019, I have attended the 2019 HIMSS Global Conference in Orlando. Key topics were consumer health, wellness and the social determinants of health. The speakers at the conference stressed about the importance of diet and exercise in disease prevention and health promotion globally.
Today, I am inspired to share My100 Plates meal plan to the world so that it would motivate people to eat healthily and impact billions of lives.
Happy Healthy Eating
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purpose only. If anyone has specific dietary requirements/ restrictions or allergies to any food, they should contact their doctor or dietician. The information is not a medical advice. People who are underweight or having an eating disorder, children below 18 years old, diabetics who are taking medications, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, those who have significant underlying medical conditions should consult their doctor first, as they would before starting any weight-loss regime.