Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You Won’t Believe What Makes Us Fat

Like many women my age, I have difficulty losing weight. Let me be honest here. It’s a struggle for me to keep from putting on the pounds, never mind losing them. As a result, I tune in to news items that provide any clues as to what makes us fat. The past several weeks brought a bonanza of new information. Unfortunately, most of it will prove useless for me.

The first surprise is that a dirty home can make you fat. According to the July 12 NY Daily News, researchers at Duke University discovered a link between dust particles and weight gain. In laymen’s terms, the chemicals in dirt can change our body’s metabolism, resulting in more fat cells. Actually, it was mice’s metabolism, not human’s, but what starts with mice eventually finds its way up the food chain.

My friends know I’m not exactly a model homemaker. I’ve often said that I clean the house twice a year or when we’re expecting company, whichever comes first. We don’t socialize much. I’m not sure if that’s a cause or an effect of my cleaning schedule. Either way, it explains a lot about my expanding waistline.

A few days after the dirty home tidbit I read that decluttering your home can help you lose weight. The June/July AARP magazine ran the article: “To Lose Weight, Put Your Home on a Diet.” In it they reported: “Studies suggest that the same genes that cause people to hoard stuff can lead to obesity.” They surmised that this harks back to primitive times when supplies of food and rocks (for protection) were amassed to ensure survival.

When we put our Providence house on the market, my real estate agent was brutal about having me get rid of the clutter. Sure enough, I shed some poundage, and not just the weight of the items I was donating or throwing out. My body trimmed down a bit, too. I assumed my weight loss was because I was carrying so many boxes of books from our third floor to the first. Apparently the loss was also due to the decluttering process itself.

Although I know that I should continue to shed belongings, I’ve reached the point where there’s not a lot of stuff here that’s just… well, stuff. Most of my clutter has a lot of history and emotional baggage tangled up in it. So there’s not much hope of a new decluttering phase helping me to lose weight. Besides, not much of it is food or rocks, so there’s obviously something else involved besides primitive survival genes.

The third news item on this topic was an article from Cell Metabolism that I found in and it was the unkindest cut of all. It seems that researchers at UC-Berkeley conducted a study that suggests that smelling your food before you eat it could cause you to gain weight. It has something to do with the body’s sense of smell being tied into storing fat instead of burning it off. I’ll bet anything it’s those damn survival genes again. This is a distressing finding.

How many times have you said: “Just let me have a quick whiff of that Death by Chocolate cake before you eat it”? OK. Maybe it was more like: “Just let me have a teensy forkful of that cake,” but still. Now we can’t even sniff something decadent without risking ballooning up? It’s bad enough I have to sleep with earplugs (to drown out my husband’s snoring and my cat’s nighttime “hunting”). Now I’m going to have to eat with a clothespin on my nose. Life is so unfair.

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