Don’t Be a Sedentary Food Grazer if You Want to Lose Weight!


One of the key factors in weight loss or weight gain is the relationship between energy intake and energy expenditure. Most individuals will require between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, with women requiring a lower amount of calories per day than men. Staying within this energy intake level can help to ensure that the body is able to burn the daily calories consumed and that the calories do not contribute to weight gain. However, this intake will not contribute to weight loss unless the level of activity is increased so that you burn more calories than you consume.

Television And Obesity

 The simple truth is that weight loss is only possible if you use more calories than you eat. What you eat and the amount of exercise you get affect the equation, but in the end weight loss is still about calories consumed being less than calories burned.

Lifestyles of most adults today simply do not allow the opportunity for the body to burn up the additional calories consumed. Interestingly even the leisure choices of adults may contribute to the growing rate of obesity. In one study with subjects in the United States 1,059 men and women were monitored over one year. The study tracked the amount of television watched per day, the intake of fast food meals and the changes in the subjects BMI or body mass index. The results were different between men and women with high income women that watched the most television gaining the most weight over the duration of the study. However, both men and women had increases in weight gain due to lower levels of physical activity.1

 Lack Of Exercise

 Lack of exercise can be a major cause of weight gain and obesity in all socio-economic classes. Increasing levels of exercise will have a significant impact on weight loss programs which is even more pronounced when combined with effective caloric intake monitoring. Not only does exercise increase weight loss, but it also improves cardiovascular health. Studies have shown the most effective exercise for weight loss over a long duration of time is at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intensive exercise such as walking. The study, which included 195 women of different ages on different diets and exercise regimes showed that the duration of the exercise was more important than the intensity, provided that at least moderate intensity levels were maintained. 2

This is great news for those trying to lose weight since walking, jogging, hiking, cycling or swimming at moderate levels for longer durations is seen as key for weight loss. As technology decreases, the need for physical exercise like a brisk walk for 20 minutes once or twice a day, will help in all aspects of weight loss and overall cardiovascular health.

Unfortunately, it’s tempting to tell yourself that you don’t have time to exercise or that your arthritis prevents you from exercising or that you can’t exercise enough to do any good. These are common statements heard that are merely excuses for not starting an exercise program. You don’t have to become a bodybuilder or run marathons. Anyone, even the obese, can begin walking. If you can only walk for 10 minutes until you build up some endurance, that’s okay! You have still burned calories you would not have burned otherwise. It doesn’t take long to discover you can walk longer and farther, and you will probably discover your arthritis is much more manageable!

Poor Choices Of Food

 Poor food choices include those that are high in saturated fats as well as high in refined sugars and carbohydrates. The result of this type of combination is a food that is high in caloric value that increases the energy intake even without changing the quantity of food consumed. Unfortunately people in lower economic brackets may find that highly refined food costs less than fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grain food options.3

 It’s important to make an effort to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. In the summer there are often farmer’s markets selling local produce at reduced prices. You can also watch for food sales and freeze the produce so you have it available when prices go up in the winter. Freezers can go a long way in helping to manage food budgets.

 Many people, regardless of their socio-economic status or disposable income available to spend on groceries, continue to make poor food choices deliberately or based on misinformation. Confusion about labeling and the wording used on labels also leads to poor choices because of a lack of education. Decreased time spent on home fresh food preparation, increased reliance on pre-packaged foods and eating away from the home in restaurants and fast food outlets are seen as contributing factors to obesity due to food choices.


 It is estimated that approximately 60% of women that are able to have children are either overweight or obese in the United States. This has created increased health issues for both the women and children. Obese women are more likely to have difficulties with fertility, increased risk of developing gestational diabetes and subsequent Type ll diabetes, increased risk of high risk births and increased risk of obesity after childbirth. 4

 In a recent study in the United States, researchers looked at the misconception of pre-pregnancy body weight as an indicator of obesity or excessive weight gain during pregnancy. The findings indicate that women that under assess their weight prior to pregnancy are most likely to have excessive weight gains during pregnancy. 5 Women that had an accurate assessment of their weight, even if they were overweight or obese prior to pregnancy, tended to gain less weight and stay within healthy pregnancy weight gain ranges.

Women that plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant need to be careful about excessive weight gain during the pregnancy. For most women, they should gain only 20-30 pounds in total for the pregnancy. Appropriate exercise that is low to moderate in intensity but longer in duration should be included with a controlled caloric intake throughout the pregnancy.

Cooking For Family

 Anyone that is a cook knows that the secret to great food is making sure everything is properly seasoned and cooked. This includes taking small samples or tasting of food as it’s prepared. People that attempt to lose weight by eating restrictive types of meals need to be aware that any food they consume while preparing other types of foods for the family can be counteracting the healthy choices they are making.

To prevent this type of continual tasting and food consumption, sometimes referred to as grazing behavior, a better option is to prepare healthy foods for the entire family. With a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains in moderation and lean meats, poultry and fish there is not as much temptation to sample the restricted or forbidden foods that have to be avoided on most diets. Getting rid of temptations in the home, kitchen, pantry and cupboards is also seen as instrumental in changing the options you have available when the urge for a snack occurs.

Making simple lifestyle choices of purchasing only healthy foods, increasing exercise on a daily basis, eliminating snacking or tasting behaviors and avoiding temptation are easy changes to make. Weight loss using these methods can be sustained without feelings of deprivation and restriction that may cause problems with highly controlled diet programs.


1 Williams, D. M., Raynor, H. A., & Ciccolo, J. T. (2008). A Review of TV Viewing and Its Association With Health Outcomes in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine , 250-259.

2 Chambliss, H. (2005). Exercise duration and intensity in a weight-loss program. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine , 113-115.

3 Drewnowski, A., & Specter, S. (2004). Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 6-16.

4 Sarwer, D., Allison, K. C., Gibbons, L. M., et al. (2006). Pregnancy and Obesity: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Journal of Women’s Health , 720-733.

5 Herring, S. J., Oken, E., Haines, J., et al. (2008). Misperceived pre-pregnancy body weight status predicts excessive gestational weight gain: findings from a US cohort study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth .


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