That extra weight is depressing you! It is also putting you at risk of all sorts of health problems. Heart disease, stroke, various cancers, diabetes and gout are all more common in the overweight.
Think of fat as ‘energy stored’. It is the result, in simple terms, of taking in more energy than we burn up. The excess energy is the stored as fat. This ability to store energy is very useful when food supplies are erratic. We can eat plenty when the harvest is in; and store the excess as fat to carry us through the long months of winter when food is hard to come by. This weight cycling, as it is called, is what kept our ancestors from getting too fat year upon year: they gained a little in summer and lost it again through winter. Affluent societies do not have weight cycling, because food is plentiful all year round. This predisposes us to weight gain year after year, and that is how most overweight people end up with unwanted flab.
A tiny error in calculation can result in big weight gain. For example, if you consume just one tablespoon of olive oil, or two tablespoons of yoghurt, above your daily energy (calorie) requirement, you could gain one stone in weight over the course of just one year!
But the simple mathematics don’t always pan out – there is more to it than that. Some folk have very thrifty metabolisms and gain weight ‘just looking at food’. Apart from hormonal disturbance, It is possible that some of them have metabolisms that are influenced by the type of foods they eat, not just the quantity.
This approach to weight management has less to do with excluding calories, and more to do with excluding allergen. In practice, this means an exclusion diet for a period of about 14 days, during which the most common culprit allergens are excluded from the diet and you eat as much as you like of the remaining foods. The first few days of any exclusion diet can be difficult. Headache, aches and pains, low mood and low energy are common; but they quickly give way to a sense of wellbeing – sometimes feeling better than you have for years. You may also find that you are ravenous during this time, and that’s fine, just go with it. You can eat as much as you like, so hunger should not be part of this experience. The ravenous feelings subside after a few days, and you settle into a calmer routine. Then, we see what happens on the scale, and we take it from there. This approach will not work for everybody, but for some people it is the only approach that works.