Monday, 3 December 2012

The delights of dieting....

With Christmas coming up I thought this would be the perfect time to share with you my dieting do’s and don’ts.

There is always a diet revolution capturing the public imagination; a celebrity or medical-maverick endorsed program that promises to help you lose more weight, faster, with less effort – from only eating foods of a certain colour, at a certain time of day etc.

Dieting isn’t easy. If losing weight was as simple as piling it on, the term ‘super-morbidly obese’ might never have been coined, and the phrase ‘we’re going to need the winch for this one’ wouldn’t be the second-most common phrase used by firemen after: ‘someone get the ladder, that cat just isn’t coming down....’
Some diets are backed by solid research and provide you with the nutrients and energy needed to stay healthy in retirement, but others can be downright dangerous. 

Crash diets are like an odd reversion of the ‘stone soup’ story that I used to read my children. For those of you who were never read bedtime stories (or never read to your kids) it’s about a couple of travellers who visit a nearby town and claim that they can make a delicious soup with just a pan of water and a stone. The villagers are understandably sceptical, but hungry, so oblige. “Now all we need are some potatoes” they say, so the villagers bring a sack of potatoes. “Now all we need are some leeks” they say – so the villagers bring armfuls of leaks, and so on until they have all the ingredients for a delicious soup. The chefs take out the magic stone – and voila! Stone soup, made with nothing but a stone, a pan of water, and all the villagers’ vegetables. 

Any diet that revolves around the principle of ‘eat very little of the same low calories, bland food for breakfast and lunch and that eat whatever for your dinner!’ is so blatantly ridiculous you’d think that people would laugh it off – but they don’t, because all the buzz created by testimonials such as: “I lost 40 pounds on the cereal/cabbage soup diet – it really works!” complete with obviously doctored photographs. Of course you can eat very little of something healthy for two meals, build up a calorie deficit (remain ravenously hungry and dangerously irritable throughout the day) and then eat a large dinner and lose weight. 

REMEMBER: Don’t starve yourself, not least because not eating isn’t the quickest way to lose weight as it slows your metabolism, causing you to burn calories at a slower rate than a well-regulated eating and exercise program. You need to choose the foods that will make you feel most full whilst giving you the nutrients you need.

Use common sense and don’t cling on to fads that promise you miracle results for minimal efforts. You will slip into a cycle of hope and despair that will only make you want to eat even more.