Charlebois: Beating Obesity Through Good Nutrition

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“Obesity is a disease”-Obesity and Nutrition Workshop

Savannah Hotel, June 19, 2016-Canadian Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant, Helene Charlebois captivated her audience through her anecdotes about obesity in her practice and personal life.  She reinforced the fact that “obesity is a medical problem” and our food was not only cure but it can also cause malaise.

It is a fact that many people battling to eat healthy with the hope they will avoid non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension.   Others are not aware of the harm or they do not care what damage they are doing to their bodies.  However, for most of us the food we eat is not a choice, it often “modified” without our knowledge either with added sugars and fats or chemicals to make the food “easier to mass produce, ready to eat and cheaper to produce”.

Ms. Charlebois asked her audience to change their way of thinking.

“Obesity is a disease.  We have to treat obesity to treat people with diabetes,” she said.

Obesity: Getting Bad Foods Out of Schools

Ms. Charlebois is a strong advocate of changing the behaviours of children starting in the school and other public institutions like hospitals.   In Canada, Ms. Charlebois admits that her colleagues and other like minded institutions are seeking to “take unhealthy drinks and foods out of the schools”.   This action has not been without resistance from the parents of these children. Many parents believe their children should eat what they want. But Charlebois argues that eating healthy is “a part of their education”.

“If they (parents) want to give their children pop (soda), they can do it at home,” Charlebois said.


Treating Obesity Like A Illness

Obesity is not a simple illness to treat.  There are the physical and medical aspects of obesity as well as the psychological one.  For Ms. Charlebois, the patient must come to “self-awareness” about their disease.   Then, their overall health must be evaluated particularly with women who are often battle with weight gain and obesity.

Obesity and Women

Women who are struggling with their weight often have other hormonal and medical issues to conquer before dealing with weight management.  Some of these conditions can complicate weight loss and maintaining healthy weight.

  • “slow loser” -some people because of their gene make-up are unable to loss weight like other people
  • PCOS-polycystic ovarian syndrome can make it difficult for women to lose weight  (high testosterone, high cholesterol etc.)
  • Food Allergies eg. celiac disease

Having a Plan And Sticking to It 

Ms. Charlebois explained to her audience that no matter what diet you adopt, “you will lose weight”.  However, the key to keeping the weight come by staying consistent and “being on that diet for the rest of your life”.

Finding A Diet Daily Rhythm

Here are some of the suggestions made by Ms. Charlebois to finding a rhythm when it comes to dieting.

  • Balance out your three meals per day and healthy snacks (Calorie daily intake 2000 calories
  • Eat more in the morning (particularly protein)-stay away from liquid meals
  • Slowly reduce your starch intake as the day wines down i.e. there should little to no starch (potatoes, pasta, rice) when having dinner.
  • Getting your 150 minutes per week of vigorous to moderate exercise
  • Switch from a carbohydrate based diet to one which is “plant based”
  • Cut out sugary beverages-is not possible have small amount of juice over soda
  • Create a meal journal of your planned meals-it will be a guideline
  • Trying drink a bit of fiber before your last meal (dinner) to keep you from overeating
  • Trying to maintain your diet


Barbados from a Glance

For Ms. Charlebois who had an opportunity to taste Barbadian cuisine, she realized that Barbadian has an excellent range of foods however it is important to deal with portion size and this must start in the home.

  • Charlebois explained that changes to diet happens at home and it must be adopted by all the family members to have an impact.
  • Learn about measuring equipment, what is 1/2 a cup-measuring using your hand
  • Throw out all storage containers used (lunch containers), over-sized plates
  • Do not place foods being eaten on dinner table, encourages overeating e.g. Christmas lunch, birthday parties, social functions

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