Friday, January 07, 2011

New Year nonsense

Even if you’ve lost your diary and slept through the midnight fireworks the other night, you can tell it’s a new year from the number of bloggers and real-world acquaintances starting some crazy-arse diet. Usually one that involves cutting out food groups, eating the same three meals day in, day out, or buying some overpriced supplement that’s the new Big Thing.


I’ve come to realise that it can take quite a long time not only to understand, but to believe in your heart, that it is possible to both eat well and lose (or maintain) weight. Most of us have to work our way through the silly diet maze to get to the priceless treasure on the other side that is enjoying your food and eating well instinctively.

I followed some dumb diets in my twenties. If I could go back in time, I’d smack my younger self over the head. Did I seriously think that skipping breakfast, having a tub of diet yoghurt and an apple for lunch and a “normal” dinner was the answer? Or that the weight lost on the Israeli army diet was going to stay off when I returned to my usual way of eating?

Luckily, I’ve progressed in stages through various healthier ways of eating (Weight Watchers, Body-for-LIFE, Precision Nutrition) to get to a point where I can cook and eat well without really thinking about it. And where eating out won’t freak me out, even if the meal does involve my Mum’s Black Forest trifle.

I know I’m not alone, and also that I’m one of the lucky ones who really hasn’t had that much of a struggle. For a really scary story (with a happy ending), go have a read of Sara’s post detailing her journey through the minefield of eating disorders, to the very content and healthy place she’s in now.

Anyway, back to the silly diets… Let’s bust a few food myths.

1. All white foods are bad.

Look, refined white flour and sugar products are not your best friends. And anything commercially produced using them usually has artificial this and that added to boot, so keep white bread, biscuits, mass-produced cakes and muesli bars etc to a minimum. But potatoes? Awesome veggies for most people! Yoghurt? That’s white, isn’t it? Unless you have a problem with dairy, this is one food I recommend. I’ve eaten Basmati rice regularly for years and lost weight easily. I’m sure there are others, but the point is, if it’s processed, skip it; if not, it’s unlikely to hamper your weight loss efforts just because of its colour.

2. Fruit is bad.

Don’t be bloody ridiculous. The whole fructose is bad for you movement is getting out of control. If one more diet "guru" jumps on this bandwagon, I'm going to scream. Listen up: Modified or concentrated fructose (such as high-fructose corn syrup, found in a lot of biscuits, breakfast bars and other mass-produced baked goods… which you shouldn’t be eating anyway) is probably very, very bad for you. Fructose in its natural state, paired with fibre and vitamins, such as you find in an apple or cantaloupe, is FINE. Eat your two or three serves of fruit a day and enjoy them.

3. Low-fat is the only way to go.

I’ve seen some people reduce their dietary fat intake to 10g or less daily (which is no mean feat), and yet wonder why they’re not losing weight, or why their skin is really crappy. We NEED fat for umpteen essential bodily functions, and if you don’t eat enough, your skin and hair will look rubbish, your hormones are likely to go all haywire and you won’t feel fantastic. And your fat loss will probably stall, as your body hangs onto its fat stores for dear life because there simply isn’t enough being eaten on a daily basis. There are a whole lot of other issues with fat-free or low-fat foods too, but all I’ll say there is: read the label. See what’s been added to replace the fat that’s been taken out, and compare the calories in the fat free version with the normal one… you might be surprised.

There are plenty more myths floating around, but that’ll do for now.

I’m still sticking to my non-miracle not-diet, and very happy with it, thanks.


LizN said...

amen sister!

Unknown said...

Love your work, Kek!

Charlotte Orr said...

Thanks for pointing out Sara's blog post - it was an interesting read.

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