One of the most popular words among people concerned about
their weight is "excess." Quite often we hear about excess weight
or excessive eating, but do we actually know what excess means?
The one explanation everybody seems to agree upon is that excess
is not good.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, excess is defined as "the state or instance of surpassing usual, proper, or specified limits." But what are those "usual, proper, or specified limits" when we describe something as being excessive? This is not always easy to define when we're trying to fight off the pounds.
Excess and the human body
For many years the term "ideal body weight" was used to define
those limits above which something was excessive. But there were so
many varied opinions and criteria that, finally, this term was
dropped in favor of a better indicator.
This new indicator, based on the combination of weight and height, is known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). The normal range is between 20 and 24.9.
Nevertheless, this normal range doesn't necessarily mean that
everything over 25 is excessive and undesirable. Someone who
regularly exercises or practices a sport, for instance, may
develop, and proudly show off, a volume of muscle mass that might
push his/her BMI into the 25 to 29.5 range. This person would not
be considered overweight. However, this wouldn't be the case for
someone with the same BMI due to fat deposits instead of muscle
Excess and your diet
It's tricky to define excessive eating, be it of food in
general, or a certain type of food. There are no specific limits
applicable to everyone to define what is a normal serving of meat
or potatoes. However, certain criteria may encourage most people to
A starting point is a diet that incorporates a variety of foods and provides 2,000 calories a day for an average woman, and 2,500 for an average man. This, however, might prompt you to ask: What is variety in a diet? and, How do you count the calories of a food serving?
The answer to the first question is quite easy: you must avoid
monotony. Include foods from different sources into each meal and
avoid choosing the same food day in and day out. If you eat salad
every day because it's a good source of vitamins, minerals and
fiber, try to change the vegetables you eat in the salad.
As to the second question, there is no practical
calorie measure that you can use. The solution is moderation, both
when choosing your serving size and when adding high-calorie
components, such as fat. A dish with a piece of chicken or fish, a
medium potato and a colorful vegetable salad can be either an
excellent meal or an excessive source of calories, depending on how
the food is prepared. It’s not the same to fry the chicken and
potatoes and cover the salad in mayonnaise, as it is to bake the
chicken and the potato and add a few drops of of olive oil to the
When it comes to dietary excesses, remember that you always have
the option of increasing your physical activity as well. It’s very
possible that a certain amount of food that may be excessive for a
sedentary person may be just right for a person who burns more
calories by exercising.
*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of
Product Development for DrTango, Inc.
© 2016 HolaDoctor