Battle of the Diets

I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear at least a few people have the discussion about “diets”. Personally, I think it’s a word that’s just thrown around, a word people use to describe a short term pattern of eating but unfortunately there is not one “diet” that is 100% proven to work or that suits everyone.

Did you know that 98% of people that lose weight from a diet gain it back within 6 months? This is because the diet mentality is based on deprivation. You are able to get a quick-fix result because you were able to deprive yourself for a period of time. Eventually, this method falls apart which can lead to a binge and despite all your hard work, you gain the weight back. How frustrating is that? These types of diets will slow down your metabolism which will only make it harder for you to lose weight.

During a term in my old job I helped to support a colleague on a diet in preparation for her wedding. Under instruction and through plenty of research we began a ‘Keto Diet’. This diet essentially involved consuming a very low amount of carbohydrates. 

The “Keto Diet” is derived from the production of ketones in the body, ketone production is much higher as the use of glucose is reduced due to the limited intake of carbohydrates. On this particular diet your body begins to rely on fats as the main fuel supply for the body meaning that fat is continuously being burnt. Anyways, besides the ‘sciencey’ background of the diet I had witnessed the diet work on other friends so I gave it a go... Safe to say after about 4 days I had to give it up, the diet didn’t agree with my body at all, I found myself getting really irritated, I found all the fatty foods far too similar in taste and I found myself constantly monitoring what I was eating. I’ve never followed a diet plan like that before but after trialling that one I vowed never to try another.

I’ve had heated discussions with many people who like to share their diet stories and dilemmas with me because “Oh you’re a Home Economics teacher, you’ll know this” however, they don’t always enjoy my response. I’ve also overheard plenty of diet conversations...

“I’m on a no carb diet” 

Okay, wow! This is a big one and when I quiz people on this diet unfortunately they realise that cutting out bread, pasta and rice is actually not a “no carb diet”. Yes, they are reducing their intake of carbohydrate dense foods but they are still consuming carbohydrates, even vegetables contain carbs, peas can have up to 21 grams of carbs per serving... (sorry!).

“Well I can have as many potatoes vegetables and cheese as I want because they are 0 syns” 

Well who am I to argue, it is a fact, someone has included all fruits and vegetables as “free” or “ 0 syn” foods as part of a diet plan and that is totally fine but again the carbohydrate content is forgotten about. I’ve seen real success stories from the Slimming World Diet and they have lots of good recipes but again once people loose the weight are they able to maintain the diet? Essentially the diet still requires tracking your “syns” each day and actually allows you to bank “syns” which could encourage over indulgence at the weekends!

“OMG eat after 6pm, no way! Your body won’t digest food properly after that time” 

This one is an annoying one... there are studies completed all the time, some agree and some firmly disagree that eating time has an effect on your digestion. Unfortunately working individuals have busy schedules and not all meals can be consumed at 830, 1230 and 1730 so this “diet” rules out a lot of people straight away. Besides anything else, eating at 6 and possibly not going to bed until 10 or 11 and night- impossible and to me going to bed hungry is up there with some of the worst feelings.

To summarise, here, are 3 reasons you shouldn't go on another diet:

1. Diets do not help you maintain weight loss long-term. Powerful biological factors essentially ensure that your attempt at dieting will fail. Researcher Traci Mann, who has studied dieting for more than 20 years, found that there are metabolic, hormonal, and neurological changes that contribute to "diet failure."

2. Weight loss is not the key to increased happiness. I have a problem with the very idea of weight loss as a goal, because tying your happiness to something external is a recipe for discontent. As clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior says: "It's not the external achievement of some goal that's going to make us happy. You think that will automatically change your life in some meaningful way, but it could be that your life pretty much remains the same." Counting calories, obsessing about your body fat, and reading diet books is likely taking time away from more meaningful pursuits. Think about all of the other passions you could explore if you gave up the goal of weight loss. What if you poured all that time, money, and energy into something that could actually make a difference in the world?

3. Losing weight will not make you healthier. A person's weight is simply not a good barometer of their overall health. Shifting your goal from weight loss to adopting more healthful habits is one way you can work to improve your health.

So how about trying the lifestyle change, ignore the word diet entirely and simply change your entire lifestyle. Diet implies something short and quick, something you expect significant results from in a short period of time however, not practical or sustainable. Try to change small things within your usual diet and exercise routine weekly and see if you find it sustainable. Making small changes without constant calorie counting, recording, food tracking and whatever else there is to it is BY FAR the most and in my opinion ONLY sustainable way to do it!

Enjoy that thought for the weekend, ignore the diet kings and queens around you and do your own little lifestyle change 

Anna Beckett

Anna Beckett