Doctors have calculated that, with every 10 per cent of weight he gains over the desirable weight for his height, a man risks cutting his life expectancy by thirteen per cent. Even ten or fifteen pounds of extra weight make a man more vulnerable to most serious diseases. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes, for example, are twice as common in people who are overweight. And there are plenty more statistics to show that all sorts of other disabling or fatal disorders are likely to go along with excess fat.
Everyone can get rid of his excess pounds and put himself out of danger. No one is going to pretend that it is easy, but it can be done. If you are trying to lose weight with your partner, you can make a game out of it, compare notes on your progress, and support each other's morale. But even if you don't need to slim, you can still be your partner best assistant in the fight against fat, because you are the one who chooses the menus.
It doesn't mean that you have to switch overnight from generous helpings of potatoes and rich desserts to salads without dressing, or bananas and skim milk. Crash diets are not good for you. Not only may they fail to supply the body with enough vital nutrients for health, but also they require extraordinary efforts of self-discipline to succeed. Few people can keep to such diets for long, and weight that is lost in a hurry will come right back on again when dieting stops. "On-and-off" dieting like this can actually be more harmful than being continuously overweight. Successful dieting, on the other hand, means gradually introducing new eating habits that are easy to continue even when the excess pounds have gone.
Gradually, you can replace fattening foods by equally delicious substitutes that will satisfy your appetite without putting on extra weight. Lean steaks, pot roasts, hotdog, lamb and veal chops, chicken and turkey, for example, are all high in protein but low in fattening power. So choose these meats a lot more often than bacon, pork, sausages, or ham, and switch to fish every once in a while. Broiled or baked foods have fewer calories than fried ones. And how about serving an extra green vegetable instead of potatoes, pasta, or rice? Fresh fruit with plain yogurt could stand in for ice cream or pies. Stewed fruit for breakfast can taste just as good as cereal. Try substituting cottage cheese or meat spreads for cream cheese, jam, or honey, and celery or fruit for crackers. You may also like to use non-fat powdered milk in coffee or tea, or a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt instead of butter on vegetables.
A calorie chart in the kitchen and a low-calorie cookbook will help you here. Once you have got the idea, you can work out many more variations for yourself. It may seem a nuisance to have to count calories, but remember those wretched health statistics and stick to your guns. Try serving just enough food to satisfy your appetite, and keep leftovers well out of sight. Regular meals are best, but try not to have your last meal too close to bedtime. Since little food is needed for energy while you are asleep, most of it will be converted into fat while you slumber away unawares.