Grandma Knew Best (Simple Rules for Weight Loss)

I grew up in the 70s. Nutritionally speaking, this was not a great era. Science was winning the race against nature. Babies were bottle-fed formula as it was believed to trump breast milk. Margarine was thought to be healthier than butter. Fat eventually became enemy number one, and carbs were crowned king. The obesity epidemic was born from this disaster.

When the government got involved in telling us what to eat, our health suffered. Many forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's increased along with our waistlines and our obesity rates. We shunned foods with saturated fats like butter, whole eggs, and red meat while gobbling up fat-free cookies. Remember when the bottom tier of the food pyramid recommended ELEVEN servings of grain-based products (bread, rice, pasta, muffins, etc.) per day?!?

If you are a member of my generation, you have been ingrained with this crazy thinking. It might be difficult for you to think back to the advice your grandmother gave you. Our grandparents were not obese. If they gained a little weight, they knew why and how to fix the problem. They followed some simple rules.

1) Starches make you fat. Your grandmother knew it was not the butter or the beef that caused weight gain. "Starches" meant bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, bagels, cookies, muffins, and cakes. If you were getting a little heavy, you were told to cut back on the starches.

2) Eat your vegetables. Your grandmother knew that veggies contained important nutrients and were vital for your health. Every time you sat down to a meal, your plate contained a minimum of two different vegetables. You were required to eat them. It wasn't optional.

3) Eat real, whole foods. Grandma did not serve strange "franken-foods" or instant stuff that came out of a box. When she cooked a meal, it was made with love. And fresh ingredients. Perhaps a piece of meat or some fish, at least a couple of different vegetables, maybe a small amount of "starch"--like a baked potato--and definitely some fat from butter or olive oil.

4) Eat three meals per day. There was none of this constant eating. Meals were eaten at the table, not in the car or in front of the TV. You didn't talk on the phone or do anything else during a meal. Grandma knew this would interfere with your digestion.

5) Go outside and play. Grandma knew kids belonged outside, running in the grass and climbing trees, swinging on swings and hopscotching. Sitting indoors and watching TV was not considered a healthy activity.

6) Get to bed early. (Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.) Grandma knew a good night's sleep was a powerful prescription. Especially for those looking to lose weight.

Although these rules are so simple--they are really just common sense--it seems that many of us have forgotten them. Or tossed them aside in the search for convenience and time-savings. We have given up home-cooked meals and family time around the table in favor of fast food eaten in the car and  constant go-go-go. And as a nation, our collective health continues to suffer.

Grandma knew best. Returning to the rules of the past will have far-reaching benefits for the generations of the future.