Wellness programs often focus primarily of changing food habits. That is certainly the challenge today. Our work and food environments have changed significantly within a single generation. Wellness programs must find manageable ways to help us keep healthy despite the challenges of a sedentary lifestyle and the ready availability of junk food.


Wellness Programs Consider our Sedentary Lives


Wellness programs need to consider how sedentary most of us have become when they strive to help us lead healthier lives.

Without even realizing it, most of us get more sedentary as we age. A meta-analysis of 350,000 adults over 60 found that they spent an average of 9.4 hours a day sitting, reclining, or lying down. Inactivity, such as watching television, is associated with obesity. According to Katherine Tucker of the USDA Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, as people age they “become less active, their metabolism slows, their energy requirement decreases, all of which mean that they need to eat less.” The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults over 50 who don’t regularly engage in physical active limit their caloric intake to 1,600 calories per day. This doesn’t leave much room for eating out or snacking.



Wellness Programs Need to Address our Tempting Food Environment



Wellness programs need to address our tempting food environment. Food is everywhere. Meanwhile serving sizes, as well as plate sizes, have grown exponentially since we grew up. Nutritionists call it “portion distortion.” In the 50s, a fast-food burger was 2.8 oz. Fast-forward to 2004, and that burger had bloated to 4.3 oz. A soft drink used to be a mere 6 oz., but now we buy 2 liter bottles and pour bottomless servings.

Many mothers never want to cook again once their kids finally move out. Take-out and restaurant dining become their go-to. A Tufts University study analyzed meals from chain and non-chain dining establishments and found that 92% of them exceed the recommended calories for a single meal. The ginormous portions are only part of the reason that eating out helped fuel the obesity epidemic.

Have you noticed that restaurants now serve wine in oversized goblets? Professor Theresa Marteau of Cambridge University compared the size of wine glasses from the 1800s on exhibit at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford to the typical size today and found that they had ballooned by 592%.



Wellness Programs Promote the Benefits of a Healthy Life


Wellness programs should emphasize the many benefits of a healthy life. Staying on a healthy path is challenging and having long term goals in mind helps.

There’s good reason not to throw in the towel and tell yourself that it’s okay to add a few extra pounds as you get older. A study by Daniel Belsky, PhD, Assistant Professor at Duke University School of Medicine, analyzed data from the National Institute on Aging which showed that reducing calories can prolong lives. In the study, one group reduced its calorie intake by 12%, while the control group didn’t restrict calories. The findings showed statistically significant differences in biological aging gauges such as functioning of the liver, kidneys, immune system, and cardiovascular systems between the two test groups. After each 12-month follow-up, the calorie restricted group aged by 0.11 years, while to normal intake participants aged by 0.71 years.



Wellness Programs Emphasize Techniques for Getting Healthy


Wellness programs teach realistic strategies that help us adopt a healthier lifestyle. Here are 5 tips to try.
5 Eating Habits That You Should Quit Today


1. Eating on Large Plates and Drinking Wine out of Goblets

When I was growing up, dinner plates were 9 inches instead of 12. According to many studies, bigger plates are tied to eating more food. Cornell University researchers analyzed 56 studies and found that reducing plate diameter by 30% decreased consumption by a comparable amount. This tendency to clean our plates is so powerful that people will eat more even when the food doesn’t taste good. Moviegoers who were given large buckets of 14-day old stale popcorn ate 34% more of the rancid popcorn than those provided with a medium-sized container. The same goes for glasses. Larger glasses trick our eyes into thinking there is less in the glass, so we drink more.

Ditch the over-large plates and eat on a salad plate instead. It’s probably about the same size as your childhood dinner plate. Use a small wine glass, or drink from a fluted champagne glass and you’ll imbibe less.


2. Sampling While Cooking

Many home cooks habitually sample while they cook, which can add quite a few calories. One culprit is cooking when you’re starving. If you’re famished, eat a healthy snack before you start preparing dinner. Other options to ward off hunger are to drink two 8-ounce glasses of water or chew sweetened gum. Both have been shown to decrease appetite and caloric intake.


3. Ordering Restaurant Appetizers

Restaurant servers push appetizers “for the table,” like fried calamari because it’s a money-maker. Most starters are fried fare, loaded with fat and sodium, risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease. Strong evidence suggests a higher risk of developing chronic disease when fried foods are consumed four or more times per week. Prevention Magazine chronicled the calories in several popular starters. An average stuffed jalapeno pepper appetizer has 1,900 calories and over 6,000 mg of sodium. Buffalo wings with blue cheese may be tasty, but do you really want to eat 1,500 calories and 4,590 mg of sodium before you even order an entrée?


4. Indulging in Coffee Shop Drinks

We used to drink plain coffee. Now we indulge in blended coffee drinks pumped with sugar syrups and topped with generous dollops of whipped cream. Many office workers make a habit of a run to the local coffee shop for mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. One study found that gourmet coffee drinkers consume, on average, an additional 206 calories per day. Since drinking your calories doesn’t have the same satiety effect as chewing, consuming sugar sweetened beverages contributes to weight gain and obesity. Try these easy substitutions which will allow you to indulge in your afternoon coffee drink without packing on the pounds. Nix the whipped cream, ask for a single pump of syrup, order your latte with low-fat or non-fat milk, or downsize from an extra-large to a small. Better yet, order plain or iced coffee or a Café Americano made with espresso.


5. Ordering Your Own Dessert

For many of us, ordering dessert is part of the eating out ritual, regardless of whether we’ve “left room.” Resisting this temptation becomes nearly impossible when the server rolls the dessert cart around or describes the mouth-watering details of each culinary masterpiece created by the pastry chef. Sometimes we even select the dining establishment because of its scrumptious signature dessert. Next time, order a single dessert and pass it around the table for everyone to share. The first few bites are the most enjoyable anyway. Research by Cornell University’s Food & Brand Lab found that people who were given small portions of chocolate were every bit as satisfied as those given ten times as much.


Click here for a slightly different version of this blog about wellness programs which was first published on LifetimeDaily.com