Excess weight is the enemy of good health and conditioning. I’ve referred to these numbers in previous articles, but they bear repeating.
Improve your eating habits
Eat smarter. For example, for breakfast, avoid bagels with cream cheese. Plus, even without cream cheese, bagels are high in sugar and carbs, so they aren’t a good choice. Stick to whole grain cereals and stay away from processed cereals. Whole grains release energy into your body in a gradual, consistent manner helping get you through the day.
Whole milk is high in sugar (lactose) and fat. Skim milk is the opposite. But if you don’t like skim milk (and many people don’t), try mixing skim milk with 2% milk or, even better, 1% milk. Don’t eliminate milk from your diet, because milk is an excellent source of calcium, and your muscles need calcium to remain healthy and to repair damage. Get your calcium from food and milk intake and not supplements. Recent medical studies show that calcium from supplements does not go back into your bones where you really need it. Plus, for women, supplements pose an added risk of calcification in the cardiac vessels. Stick to dairy and vegetables such as arugula, bok choy and broccoli, which are surprisingly high in calcium.
The goal should be to reduce calories
If you reduce calories, you lose weight. It’s that simple. The hard part is to cut calories without going hungry. Cut down on snacking. Many snacks foods claim to be fat free, which is a good thing, but people often think that because they’re fat free, they can eat more of them, which increases caloric intake.
And, remember that exercise burns calories. So, go for a walk every day. Start to jog and, if you get tired initially, do a “wog” (a cross between a walk and a jog.)
Not all salads are created equal
Salads can be very good for you without adding lot of calories. But, it’s usually the dressing that’s high in calories. So, instead of pouring dressing on your salad, put the dressing on the side. Then stick your fork in the dressing for flavor and put salad on your fork to eat. This could cut your calorie intake by as much as 90%. And, don’t load up with high-calorie ingredients such as bacon, or worse, artificially flavored bacon bits, which you find at most salad bars.
Eating meat vs. going vegetarian or vegan
Meat is an excellent source of iron and protein but can be high in fat, which is not good. However, in moderation, meat has nutritional value. Processed meats, though, have no nutritional value and have been linked to causing cancer.
Vegetarian diets offer benefits, but vegetarians generally do not get enough protein. Protein is a key to good health, especially for athletes – and make no mistake, sports officials are athletes. Whether you eat meat or are vegetarian – or vegan – it’s a good idea to keep track of your protein intake. Check food packaging labels for protein content per serving.
Water and soda
Ideally, you should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Your body needs it. Granted, drinking nothing but water can be boring and not very appealing. For variety, try sparking water on occasion, including flavored sparkling water.
Eliminate soda entirely. The spikes in sugar intake from soda make your pancreas work harder than it should, putting you at risk for diabetes, which is the fastest growing disease in this country. Diet soda – though sugar free – should be avoided, too, as some artificial sweeteners in these drinks can be toxic, especially for the kidneys.
The dessert conundrum
Sweets in general – and desserts in particular – are comfort foods, which the body craves, but you can’t lose weight eating sweets. The best you can do is consume in moderation. An alternative is fresh fruit which can be satisfying and has natural sugar content which, in moderation, is not bad for you.
Keep in mind how important it is to maintain a healthy diet and lose excess weight. You cannot be as healthy or as mobile as you need to be as a sports official if you’re carrying extra weight. Do what you can to improve your diet nutritionally, and get regular exercise on and off the court or field. That will keep your weight down and your endurance up
Dr. Dan Davis is a long-time Connecticut high school basketball official and a well-respected podiatrist and surgeon who has successfully treated many fellow officials to keep them on the court and on the field.