Dieting and the Myth of Calories

As an aromatherapist, I see clients of just about every body shape, from the anorexic to the seriously obese, though most are somewhere in between.  What I do have is a significant number of clients who would like to lose weight. Most of these clients main method of trying to lose weight is through cutting down on calories and dieting.

I was really interested to hear the Analysis programme this week on BBC Radio4.  This reported on research that shows that our calorific intake has actually dropped significantly over time but that the number of calories we consume through exercise has dropped even more. I for one was all for blaming junk food for the rise in obesity in society. It is not perhaps surprising that the researcher who looked at this was told by a colleague, “I don’t believe your data!” Yet this has been checked out and there is little doubt that it is our sedentary life style rather than increased food intake that is  responsible for the current trends.

Clearly, I need to modify or at least add to the advice I give clients who ask for help with weight loss. Exercise such as going to the gym, cycling, running, swimming etc. are clearly going to be part of the answer but for many it is important to build some of this into a daily routine as well. Our current tenant is training for an Iron Man Triathalon at the end of this month where she will complete a 2.4mile swim, a 112mile bicycle ride and a marathon. Unsurprisingly, she does not need advice on managing diet and or exercise!

However for most of us today, it is largely our lifestyle that is to blame. Compare the number of people walking or cycling to work today with even thirty years ago. Jumping into a car is all too easy for most of us. How many of us do jobs where we are sitting at a desk most of the time? – The percentage of us doing that has gone up massively. Even farm work is often largely sedentary with vast acreages being managed by combine harvesters etc.

What does this mean for me as an aromatherapist apart from advice on diet and exercise? Well, I will be thinking about oils that can be used to encourage these clients to feel more energetic. Citrus oils, Rosemary, Ginger, Pine and others will all come to the fore here and I will be encouraging clients to use them during the time between sessions as well. And I won’t be totally ignoring dietary advice but I will increase the emphasis on exercise in the advice I give with some clients, recognising that we are all individuals and a change in research information does not automatically apply to everyone.