There are many different factors that contribute to the world-wide problem of obesity today. If solving this problem was as easy as eating less fatty foods and exercising more, we would not have a problem. Unfortunately it is not as simple as that. While the “calories in, calories out” theory looks good on paper, it doesn’t take into account the complex metabolic pathways that different foods go through when we eat them or the effects that different foods have on our hormones and brain. Calories in vs calories out in general therefore fails to work at a grassroots level.
We are all different and thank heavens for that! We all have different genes, come from different cultures, are of different social classes and live in different environments. Obesity is complex. Weight loss is more complex. It is an individual thing, there is no “one size fits all” and all calories are not created equal.
Living in cities we are surrounded by fast food chains and supermarkets that are open from early morning to late at night. Food is freely available, most of it is processed and the more processed it is, the cheaper it is. So if we can’t afford to be a food snob and only buy the healthiest organic food our bodies need, then we will buy the cheaper, more addictive foods that the food industry likes to advertise. And we can and do become addicted to the processed food. We eat more and exercise less, so yes in this case calories in vs calories out does come into play. However, if we ate more healthy foods, e.g. vegetables, healthy fats and good quality protein, but of the same caloric value as the cheaper, addictive carbohydrate-laden processed foods that the food industry love, then weight loss would actually happen. All calories are certainly not equal. The food we eat control the hormones that regulate how much we eat and when we eat as well. Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body, some cause hormone changes that encourage weight gain, while others increase satiety and boost the metabolic rate.
We live hectic lives, we are often stressed and sleep badly. This too impacts on our hormones and prevents weight loss no matter how minimal our calorie intake is or how excessive our calorie output is.
Toxins surround us. We inhale them, we consume them, we apply them to our skin and they are disrupting our endocrine systems and poisoning us slowly, day by day. This too has an impact on obesity.
Throughout the world, cultures are threatened as well. Younger people are not taught basic home cooking and even older baby boomers have become accustomed to making use of quick and easy meals prepared with packaged ingredients. Kitchen skills are not being passed down from generation to generation. Urbanisation, modernisation of lifestyles and globalisation of food are robbing cultures of their heritage and this is having an impact on obesity and health. We can’t solve this problem by eating less fat and exercising more. We have to change our mindset and go back to the basics. We need to live and eat like our grandparents and great grandparents used to. And this also involves eating healthy fats! Like our grandmothers we should render our own lard and tallow and use it for cooking. It may be higher in calories, but less is consumed as it satiates us quicker.
Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, being part of a caring community, being aware of the nutrient value of food, partaking in regular physical activity (a daily 30 minute walk will do, it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of cardio!), sleeping well, stressing less, having “me” time and holding ourselves accountable, all affect energy in, energy out and can prevent or treat obesity and ultimately keep us healthy.
So don’t cut out the fatty food, just make sure it is healthy fatty food. You may just be surprised by the result.