A weight off your mind

Los­ing the pounds isn’t easy, says DR MATT PICCAVER, but the key is of­ten in our heads

EDP Norfolk - - Health - Dr Matt Piccaver

IF ANY­ONE has met me, they’ll know I’m not par­tic­u­larly svelte. I’m built for com­fort, not for speed, for pulling the plough, not rid­ing the trac­tor (can you tell I work in the coun­try­side?)

A ques­tion I’m of­ten asked, and have found dif­fi­cult to get my head around, is how to lose weight. A good ques­tion that isn’t quite so easy to an­swer. Per­haps the first method is to not put on weight in the first place.

When I was a child, I would spend a lot of time at my Nan’s house. My grand­fa­ther came from Poland and would con­sume pirogi fried in onions and but­ter. He wasn’t slim, but when not watch­ing snooker on the black and white TV, he’d be gardening. Grow­ing his own veg­eta­bles. Build­ing green­houses from dis­carded win­dows and doors, rais­ing pheas­ant and chick­ens in the back garden of their ex-coun­cil house. My Nan came from Wales, lived through the war as a Land Army girl and she too was never still. Dur­ing the war, a plate­ful might have only been 400 calo­ries.

Now, we can get a sin­gle meal, with­out mov­ing from our car, con­tain­ing enough calo­ries to keep us go­ing all day. I was en­cour­aged to empty my plate but, un­like in wartime Bri­tain, those plates were piled high. Din­ner at Nan’s was a feat of en­durance.

Our abil­ity to get hold of calo­ries has never been eas­ier. Drinks are full of sugar and caf­feine. Drive-through restau­rants, take­aways and busy life­styles mean many of us spend more time at the desk than get­ting up and about. We

What­ever you de­cide to do to im­prove your health, make small changes that you can stick to

spend a for­tune on gyms as a na­tion, but spend our days sit­ting still. There is prob­a­bly some­thing very wrong with that.

The gen­er­a­tion that is liv­ing long­est is the one that sur­vived a war, and their chil­dren. Calo­ries were not so easy to come by. Food took time to cook. Much of it was home-grown and we ex­pended calo­ries to gain them. Now there is a gap between the calo­ries con­sumed grow­ing or rear­ing our food and those we get from con­sum­ing them. We’ve al­most be­come like an­i­mals in a zoo, our food ready pack­aged and pre­pared, with lit­tle ef­fort needed to ac­quire it. We nip to the su­per­mar­ket, driv­ing usu­ally, get our calo­rie load and go home.

Once we’ve piled on the ki­los, it’s harder to shift. But not im­pos­si­ble. In gen­eral terms we need to gen­er­ate a calo­rie deficit; a 3,500 calo­rie deficit a week will lose a pound in weight. As we lose weight, we need to dial down our calo­rie in­take a lit­tle more. Each time we lose weight, we drop our in­take to match.

Most weight loss is in our heads. It’s about un­der­stand­ing what our trig­gers are to over-eat­ing, it’s about look­ing at our life­styles and see­ing what we can change. It might be walk­ing more in the day, tak­ing up a phys­i­cal hobby, chang­ing our diet - eat­ing more veg­gies and sav­ing the trips to the take­away for spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

What­ever you de­cide to do to im­prove your health, make small changes that you can stick to. Ex­er­cise is im­por­tant, but the most im­por­tant is the fork and spoon lift. What we eat is most of the bat­tle, but not all of it. Get some ex­er­cise, get out­side, but re­mem­ber that you can’t out­run a bad diet. Get some­one to help you with it, a part­ner in health, some­one to help mo­ti­vate you to­wards reach­ing your goal. You’ll get there if you put your mind to it.Š

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