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Believe it or not, obesity can be a symptom of social and technological progress. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to work hard just to collect the various fruits, vegetables, and meats that were staples in their diet and surely didn't have to worry about losing those extra 10 pounds. The advent of agriculture required nomadic hunters and gatherers to form established communities; tending fields and flocks required people to stay in one locale and organize their societies to increase food production and other survival needs. Of course, remaining in a set geographical area also meant that people became more sedentary, which when combined with better access to grains, fruits, vegetables, and meats meant a society more susceptible to weight problems.

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The onset of the Industrial Revolution realized an even more significant shift in diet. Processing and refinement removed much of the nutritional value in our foods, and refined sugar became widely available. And now, with our almost complete dependence on technology for virtually every aspect of our daily lives, from transportation to food production to basic communication, over 50 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese.

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Ironically, we are now looking to the lifestyles and diets of our predecessors to determine the most effective, healthy ways to lose weight. They survived and flourished on unprocessed, unrefined meats, vegetables, fruits and grains - why shouldn't we? Their way of life required constant physical activity, and their meals were based on availability and nutritional value rather than flavor or compulsive, stress-related cravings. The increasing availability of organic, unrefined products on the market is a testament to the revival of a more simplistic lifestyle.

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In our Nutrition, Fad Diets, and Diet Safety sections, the selection, quantity, and combination of foods in diets are addressed. Your health is infinitely more important than simply losing inches and pounds, and educating yourself is an important step to making sure that you lose weight in a way that increases your physical and mental well being.

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Exercise is a must for dieters, even if it's only to keep your metabolism up as your weight goes down. For tips on how to make the most out of those daily trips to the gym, visit our Exercise section. It's hard to keep yourself motivated, and it's even harder when you know that there are still so many pounds to go. Many dieters find that losing weight can actually be stressful; there's always the fear that you'll "fall off the wagon" and end up gaining everything that you've lost. Exercise can be a great stress reliever, and when you combine exercise with a healthy, low-fat diet and other stress management techniques, you'll find that losing weight and maintaining your ideal weight is easier than you think. Visit our Stress Management page for tips on keeping motivation up and stress levels down.

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Finally, what could be more motivating for a dieter than menu choices that look great, taste wonderful, and are low in fat and calories? Make the most of every meal with the flavorful soups, salads, and entrees featured in our Recipes section. And remember, weight loss is a way of life, not just a diet. The food you eat is only one part of the larger picture, which includes reducing stress, and implementing an exercise program that fits into your schedule and lifestyle. Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to a healthy, happier, thinner YOU!

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