I found this to be interesting and true, let me know what you think. From the Carroll Center Blog
Battle of the Bulge
This entry was posted in DeAnn’s Blog on March 31, 2015 by DeAnn Elliott.
Like millions of other Americans, I started 2015 with a
resolution to lose some weight. I hit a bump in February when the city of Boston got eight feet of snow in three weeks, and I was indoors more than usual. Now that Daylight Saving Time is here and the days are getting longer (and hopefully warmer), I’m looking forward to resuming my health quest. I suspect I’m not alone.
When I hug my blind friends, I’m aware that I’m not the only one who isn’t a size two. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity rates for adults with disabilities are 58% higher than for adults without disabilities. The phenomenon is counterintuitive. In overcoming disability, we’ve demonstrated a high degree of determination in other areas of our lives. By virtue of not being able to drive, we walk a lot. Shouldn’t we be doing at least as well as the average cubicle-worker?
The basic formula for weight loss (salad plus sit ups equals weight loss) hasn’t changed much, but research is shedding light on the role played by genetics and food additives. For people who are blind, there are additional influencing factors which I haven’t seen discussed in medical studies.
Consider the role of childhood obesity. Children who are
overweight are approximately twice as likely to grow up to be overweight as kids who are not fat. According to a 2012 Braille Monitor article, nearly 70% of the 52,000 visually-impaired school children in the U.S. do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum. This alarming statistic,
according to the article, is the result of “moving their
education from residential schools, where physical educators with a knowledge of blindness deliver specialized services in
relatively small classes, to public schools, where educators may have less knowledge, time, and resources to apply to students who are visually impaired.”
At home, well-intentioned adults may “shoo” blind children out of the kitchen to protect them from boiling water, gas flames, and sharp utensils. Without hands-on experience or the ability to observe food preparation from a distance, blind children may not learn how to cook nutritious alternatives to processed foods that are higher in fat and sugar. Food is nurturing, and others may show affection with sweets. If kids aren’t encouraged to participate in physical activity such as running or riding a bicycle, they may be at risk for future weight problems.
When a sighted adult loses vision, the transition to non-visual cooking is jarring. Sighted cooks read recipes, measuring cups, and labels on spice bottles and canned goods. They set timers and read digital displays and buttons on appliances. Food is “done” when it’s browned on top. Everything changes with
blindness. One doesn’t want to undercook the pork, so it may come out tough as shoe leather. Without training, it’s more likely that a person will cut or burn themselves if they carry on as before. It’s enough to make anyone order a pizza.
Shopping for groceries is an adventure for the newly blind. First, one has to get to and from the store without driving. At the market, it’s challenging to navigate a salad bar and find items on one’s shopping list. Nutritional labels are a blur; counting calories and looking for grams of fat are things of the past. Shall I experiment with cooking quinoa and tofu this weekend? Bring on the microwave mac and cheese!
Physical activity also changes with vision loss. If a person played tennis or basketball, they may not be able to continue as before. Gym membership is expensive, and blindness can impact employment. Exercise equipment may have an inaccessible
flat-panel display. Eating out with friends is a pleasure that one can continue to enjoy when recreational options are more limited. Less exercise plus more food equals weight gain.
According to Weight Watchers, the biggest trigger for becoming a member is seeing an unflattering photo of oneself. I may not be able to see a selfie, but I still know my jeans are too tight. Sometimes, the onset of a major disability creates other life issues that are simply more pressing than how one looks in a swimsuit.
For seniors, walking is a great way to remain active.
Blindness impacts mobility and affects balance, increasing the likelihood of falling. When blindness is a symptom of diabetes or other conditions, there are additional considerations. Vision loss is also correlated with depression and social withdrawal. If emotional eating is a problem for the general public (i.e. reaching for the ice cream when you break up with your
boyfriend), then it’s surely a factor with depression.
Good rehabilitation is critically important for maintaining good health. Mobility skills make it possible to travel safely outside the home and can increase activity and social contact. Knowing how to use talking screen-reading software on a computer enables a person to find and read recipes. One can use a talking smart phone to watch a podcast about blind cooking, or snap a photo of a nutritional label and have the information converted to speech. Personal management skills make it possible to
navigate supermarkets, maintain a grocery shopping list, and cook great meals. Psychological counseling can help lift depression. When changing one’s lifestyle, it’s helpful to be flexible. If a person can no longer play tennis, that’s unfortunate, but that was then and this is now. There are lots of fun adaptive sports to choose from to stay active. If calorie counting is
problematic, one can use an accessible app (like the one offered by Weight Watchers) to track points, or one can follow broad nutritional guidelines, like limiting carbohydrates and eating five fruits and vegetables a day.
Crash diets and rabbit food don’t work for most people, sighted or blind. A healthy weight is the culmination of an astonishing number of complex adaptive skills coming together in a new
lifestyle; it’s not just will-power. Blind people who are
overweight are not less skilled than those who are thin.
Individuals with vision loss still deal with genetics and all of the other factors that affect the general population! When weight management is included as a long-term rehabilitation goal,
however, it’s more likely that you’ll win your personal battle of the bulge.