This weeks blog post is a guest post by the wonderful Suzy Glaskie, one of the UK’s first Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches! She works with individuals, groups and organisations to empower people to reclaim their health and vitality.
THE DIET SHUFFLE
Every January seems to bring an ever more frenzied onslaught of wall to wall coverage of a dizzying array of diets. Frankly, it’s enough to induce a meltdown and have you running for the comfort of the biscuit tin…especially as each diet seems to contradict the one in the next day’s newspaper.
It’s no wonder that so many people are utterly confused – not to mention sick to the back teeth of conflicting dietary advice.
For decades, we’ve been told to avoid fat, which we were warned would make us fat and give us heart disease. So we virtuously filled our shopping trolleys with an ever-growing selection of low-fat dressings, spreads, cakes, snacks, ready meals – and the list goes on. Meanwhile, an avocado, one of the most nutritious foods you can find, was recast in the role of “fattening”. But the low-fat promise of health and a flat tummy turned out to be a hollow one. As the nation has embraced more and more low-fat foods, so obesity and chronic disease have exploded. The reason? It is not fat that makes us fat and ill. It’s sugar and refined carbohydrates.
We continue to be sold the fiction that all we have to do is eat fewer calories and exercise more and we’ll reach our target weight. We just need more willpower. If there’s one thing you take away from this blog, let it be this: the long-held theory that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie is a complete myth. 100 calories of doughnut does not equal 100 calories of avocado. Your body does something vastly different with the doughnut than it does with the avocado. One is a sugar-laden fake food that your body doesn’t recognise as fuel; it sparks the production of insulin which encourages your body to lay belly fat; it creates a cascade of reactions that lay the path for chronic disease. The other helps boost heart health, regulates your cholesterol and blood sugar, fights inflammation, feeds your brain and is great for your skin, hair and nails.
In addition to being a disaster for our health, cutting out good fats from our diet can never work because fat is the thing that not only makes food taste good but makes us feel full and satisfied, whereas sugar propels us on a brief high followed swiftly by an unpleasant crash.
THE PARANOIA OF COUNTING CALORIES
Yet, we are convulsed by a fixation with calories. Every which way we look, we’re urged to calculate and control our calorie intake – and now we have a raft of apps that can take the paranoia to a whole new level. The truth is that many diets are likely to leave you starved of real nutrition and ultimately create an internal environment that puts the weight back on. And what’s worse, you’ll revert back to eating the inflammatory foods that made you feel so bad in the first place.
Recently, a client thanked me for releasing her from what she described as “the tyranny” of dieting. I think her choice of word is apt. We’re plagued by a tendency to launch into yet another extreme of self-deprivation and follow a set regime slavishly – for a while. Research shows that a full 90% of people who start a new diet will come off the rails, quickly returning to their pre-diet weight and, often, piling on more pounds on top. Again and again, they follow a regime 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 per cent…and then zero percent, followed by corrosive feelings of failure, guilt and shame that they’ve failed yet again. Not a recipe for health or happiness. And when one diet fails, there’s always another to invest your faith in.
It’s no surprise that diets fail. Counting calories and measuring portions is not only restrictive – it’s soul-destroying. Being made to feel restricted is a sure recipe for cravings and simply sets us up for another fall. I passionately believe that food is there to be enjoyed, not treated as part of a grim mathematical equation.
FOCUS ON REAL FOOD
Enough of this madness. It’s time to turn the tables on the diet industry. Focus instead on making small, manageable changes to your lifestyle that you can sustain for good. Become wise to “Frankenfoods” manufactured in a lab and allow yourself to enjoy real, whole foods that are delicious and which your body will thrive on. Focus on the quality of the calories you are eating, rather than the quantity. Focus on your health rather than weight-loss…and you’ll regain your natural weight as a side-effect, without even trying.
Suzy Glaskie is one of the UK’s first Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches. She works with individuals, groups and organisations to empower people to reclaim their health and vitality. You can follow Suzy’s blog at www.peppermintwellness.co.uk where you can download her free “9 habits of healthy shoppers” guide.
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