Q. The doctor told us that our three children are above the recommended weight range for children their age and size and suggested we help them lose weight. That was three weeks ago. Our two boys have already lost a pound each; our daughter, barely three ounces. I asked her if she was sneaking food and she got upset and told me, “Of course I’m not sneaking food!” So how come she hasn’t lost a pound?

A. You may want to apologize to your daughter for assuming she is not following the program. Males have a larger percentage of muscle tissue than a comparable female. About 40 percent of a male’s tissue is muscle, and muscle tissue burns more calories; at least 5 more calories per pound than fat tissue—even at rest! This means that males generally find it much easier to lose weight or maintain an optimum weight. With a greater fat to muscle ratio, female can find it a challenge to lose weight. Prevention (avoid gaining extra weight in the first place) is easier than cure for many people, certainly for the average female, who simply cannot eat the same number of calories as a male and maintain optimum weight. There are some strategies you daughter can use to help in the process, however:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Females who are sleep-deprived tend to eat and snack more, especially with foods such as ice cream.
  • Make water your beverage of choice. Drinking sodas and sugary drinks can contribute to obesity in anyone, but especially in females who fine it harder to lose. Also, stop drinking any “diet drinks.” Studies have shown that people who eat diet drinks tend to eat several hundred more calories at the next meal than they otherwise would. Drink a glass of water 15-30 minutes before you eat (because it’s difficult to distinguish between thirst and hungry and many people eat when they are actually thirsty).
  • Eat a good breakfast and include some complex carbohydrates (that provide fuel to power the brain and nervous system). Make dinner the lightest meal with salads and soups and steamed or raw veggies.

Eat slowly. Chew your food well. Put down your utensil between bites. Give your brain 15-20 minutes to register that you have had enough food. It’s easy to take in 3,000 calories in 5-10 minutes when you wolf down your food. Make mealtime a relaxing, fun, happy time.

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