Cut down on salt, sugar and fat to lose weight

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2014 - 12:00am

A trainer advised me to cut down on sugar, salt and fat if I want to lose weight. Perhaps those familiar with my build would raise their eyebrows at me if heard me say this. This was a couple of years ago, you see, when I was 15 pounds overweight. From experience, when I start talking about good health and food choices, people tune out, but it piques their interest if it’s about losing weight. When I talk about exercise, people see it either as a chore, or a perk, rather than something necessary to have a better quality of life. 

Losing weight is a consequence of a better lifestyle. If losing weight is the goal, then by all means let it be a goal, but there should be no shortcuts. Shortcuts lead to short-term results and poor health.

If you only want to drop pounds quickly —  try the Maple Syrup Diet — a combination of maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper. I’ve also done the South Beach Diet, during its popularity. The Maple Syrup Diet and the South Beach Diet both work, but I’ve gained all the weight back. These are just not sustainable for me because I can’t live with deprivation, and again, they are shortcuts.  

A simple move for me was  to stay away from fast-food chains because of the obvious reason that we all know — it’s junk — high in sugar, salt and fat. (Junk that we love!) 

When out on field work, we eat in carinderias for lutong bahay food. Less of meat, more of fish, more of veggies. Lo and behold, I was fooling myself, because I didn’t realize how deadly lutong Pinoy is because of high sodium content (Read: Patis, bagoong and asin) until I myself tried cooking. 

Because of fast-paced lifestyle, more people don’t cook their own food anymore. Michael Moss in the book Salt, Sugar and Fat explains how this trend is affecting people’s health. Locally, we have higher incidence of hypertension and diabetes, the silent killer. 

Despite my healthy lifestyle of exercising and no vices, my weakness remains to be food. According to my barkada, I eat like a carpenter and that has to change. 

Enter the 1,200-calorie diet. It’s keeping track of your calories to manage your weight. I don’t monitor my calories, but I wish restaurants would indicate calorie content in the menu like in other countries.

Thankfully, there are food deliveries now available in the market that prepare your food taking into account the calories. I order from them because it’s better food alternative. These are real meals with less sodium salt and fat (high calories), which are healthier, delivered to you. They don’t market it as low salt, low fat, or low sugar — only that it will make you lose weight. They use better ingredients, too — wheat, brown rice, oats, veggies, pork chicken, beef — pretty much everything but prepared conscientiously. Good food need not be boring. (Secret: I’m eating more now — small frequent meals, but because it’s prepared better, I’m losing weight!)

If you cook your own food please have less salt, less sugar, less fat. You lessen the risk of hypertension, diabetes, fatty liver, etc. Lifestyle diseases are the culprit for the rise in heart attack and stroke. And while you’re at eating better, please add some exercise. You will lose weight for sure. If losing weight is your motivation, do it right. 

(E-mail me at


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