Most people, especially middle-aged, struggle with the “Battle of the Bulge”. The general comment is, “I still eat what I’ve always eaten, but I just can’t stop gaining weight”.
This is not just a cosmetic problem. Weight gain has been linked to blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and dementia. This increases the urgency to address the problem. Weight gain, as we mentioned in previous articles, is complex. The body’s homeostatic mechanisms for maintaining a healthy weight fail.
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It’s not just the simple kilojoule-in-kilojoule-out equation at work. Other factors involved are pleasure centers in the brain that influence food addiction, the range of microorganisms in our intestines, the type and composition of the food we eat, social norms and family traditions, marketing and personal habits. But perhaps the most important factor for the purposes of this article is what is known as the energy density of food.
I have never seen an obese impala or giraffe before. I have never seen an obese lion in the wild. Have I seen an overweight dog or cat? Yes sir. What is the difference? The animals that live in their natural state eat foods for which they are intended. Your body tells them when they have had enough to eat through various receptors in their stomach and brain. But when we start feeding pets processed foods like dog and cat chunks, and especially if they are not exercised regularly, they overeat out of boredom, excess, and inactivity.
The obesity pandemic began to pick up in the 80s and 90s. There is a strong correlation with ultra-processing of food, along with increased consumption of animal products. Far too many people have lost the art of home cooking and rely on fast foods that are high in sugar, salt, oil, refined carbohydrates, and fatty meats. Eating these foods in abundance leads to an inevitable weight gain.
But there is a way to eat your fill and have everything you need for health and vitality. It’s called the Energy Density Approach to Weight Loss.
Most of your plate should be whole foods that contain non-starchy vegetables (like cabbage, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, beetroot – which are only around 400kj per 500g); Fruit (e.g. bananas, apples, grapes, mangoes, oranges – which have 1200-1600kj per 500gm); unrefined starchy foods (e.g. whole grains, boiled potatoes, beans, lentils – which have 2400kj per 500g).
Processed carbohydrates and animal products that contain up to 8400 kJ per 500 g should contain far less off the plate. Each oil has almost 17,000 kj per 500 g. Eating in abundance, mainly of low-energy foods, provides plenty of nutrients and satiety without limitation.
Dr. Dave Glass
MBChB, FCOG (SA), DipIBLM
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