Diet is a Dirty Word
Most people have been on a diet or 3 at some stage of their life. We start off with the best of intentions, throw out half of the food in the pantry and renounce junk food forever, well, for this afternoon at least. I mean, chocolate’s not really that bad for you, is it? Just a square? Before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about your plans to lose 10kg by Friday lunch time. Besides, who wants to count calories or weigh every. single. bite.? Sigh!!!!
Surely I’m not the only one who has been through this! So, why is dieting so hard? Well, the answer is pretty simple really. Because we aren’t designed to deny ourselves pleasure!!! Guess what? It’s ok to like food! It’s ok to eat for pleasure and to enjoy every morsel that you put in your mouth. You don’t have to live on lettuce and purified water in order to have a body you love. Firstly, let’s ditch the word diet, I can feel you cringe at the very mention of it. Instead, embrace a way of eating (WOE) that is sustainable. Most diets fail because they’re not enjoyable and therefore, not sustainable. The trick is to find a WOE that you can embrace because it’s delicious, satisfying and good for you.
Oh, is that all? Yep. Is there really any such thing? You bet! So let me explain what I’m talking about, but before I do, let me walk you through some of the more common detoxes and diets.
The Lemon Detox – this detox contains maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water, and promotes drinking this concoction for up to 30 days, with no other form of sustenance. This detox has been around for decades and promises everything from drastic weight loss to curing cancer. Does it work? While people may initially experience weight loss, there are some pretty major problems with this one. Firstly, the sugar. Modern science agrees that sugar, especially fructose, is the major dietary culprit for making us fat. I could bore you with a major lesson in science, but instead you can check out the research here and here done by people far smarter than I. Fructose places an enormous amount of pressure on the liver, causing issues with hormone production and regulation, which in turn affect our weight. Fructose also creates insulin resistance, and can lead to conditions such as diabetes. Fructose is also known for tricking our brain into thinking we are still hungry, even when we’re not. What a kicker!!! Sure, you might lose some, or even a lot of weight initially, but that will always happen when you significantly reduce your calorific intake, but keeping it off is another story. Once you start eating real food again your body is going to store everything it can in case you decide to starve it again!!!
High Protein Diet – On the surface, this sounds pretty good to a lot of people. I mean, eggs are good for you, right? Sure, except for the fact that unless you’re an athlete, you don’t need anywhere near as much protein as these diets suggest. Too much protein also puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys (uh-oh) and may even contribute to weight gain. As I learned in many lectures as a student, taking unnecessary protein supplements often just creates super expensive wee. Oh, and our kidneys are kind of important since they’re responsible for detoxing our blood. No biggie.
Isajunkix – This one makes all sorts of claims which they stand steadfastly by, despite being repeatedly proven false (such as being non GMO and sugar free). That may not sound like the worst thing in the world, but is it actually any good? The short answer is no. Isagenix uses nasty oils such as canola, which contains a long chain fatty acid called erucic acid and has strong links to cancers, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders. Canola is generally agreed to be toxic. Another nasty ingredient in these products is soy lecithin. Firstly, soy is only effectively digested by our system if it is fermented. Unfermented soy has been linked with problems such as auto-immune disorders, cardiovascular disease, allergies, reproductive issues, cognitive function and more. Unfermented soy is difficult to digest because it is high in enzyme inhibitors, meaning it blocks the production of enzymes such as protease and amylase lipase, which are produced to break down food and release the nutrients into our body for effective absorption. You would think that would be enough to scare anyone off, but there’s more. SUGAR!!! This one is usually under the name of agave syrup in these products. This is fructose, so has all the same issues as mentioned earlier in the article. Is this really the type of thing you want to be putting into your body? For a more in depth overview of Isagenix products, check out this great article. This is not the only misleading brand on the market, many others such as Juice Plus, Yor Health, Herbalife etc. present similar issues.
Grapefruit Diet – there are many variations of this diet, but you might be surprised to know that it’s not too far from the mark when it comes to a diet that actually works. Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. Traditionally, the grapefruit diet promoted eating grapefruit before all other food because it has magical properties, um, because it supposedly creates chemical reactions that increase metabolism. However, the real reason this diet yields results is because it promotes reducing carbs and sugar while increasing protein and good quality fat. There is a lot of science, such as this article and this one, this one too and don’t forget this one, to support reducing carb and sugar intake, moderate protein intake and high fat consumption. So, am I suggesting that fat is good for you? Read on, MacDuff!
Low Carb High Fat (LCHF). You may have seen variations of this one around the traps and it may even sound like a really bad idea. Don’t worry, I totally feel you. There has been a war on fat since the 50’s, drumming into us the perils of cholesterol and that eating fat will make us less than waifish. Oh no!!! But the truth is, we need fat, and lots of it. Our body relies on fat in order to function effectively, relying on fat to transport nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K throughout our system. We rely on fats to help regulate hormones, promote healthy hair and skin, assist with cognitive function, regulate sleep patterns and……. Drum roll please…….. weight management. I can hear you chew on this tasty little morsel of information. So, how does this work? Well, there are a few pretty cool factors that come in to play here. Remember where I mentioned hormone regulation? Often, our weight issues stem from hormone imbalances (such as leptin and cortisol), and good quality fats help the liver rebalance hormones and stimulate others. Again, this is getting way too sciencey for this article, but you can read more here and here. Next, fat promotes satiety. This is the feeling of satisfaction/fullness after eating. This is pretty important, as it prevents us from overeating if we listen to our bodies. This element is also key to a sustainable way of eating, as feeling satisfied means that we are more likely to follow a WOE long term, leading to more permanent results. There is also a profound psychological effect that goes along with this – it’s easier to stick to a diet that is satisfying and therefore we feel good because we are kicking goals. Nobody likes falling off the wagon, and doing so can often cause us to spin into a cycle of emotional eating or other unhealthy habits. Unlike sugar and many carbs, saturated fats such as coconut oil, butter, ghee etc, also provide us with long lasting energy, diminishing our need to constantly refuel. Another great thing about fat is that it tastes great!!! And since food is meant to be enjoyed, this is kind of important! I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly relish eating food that tastes like cardboard just because it promises to make me look like Cara Delevingne. So, a diet that tastes good, makes you full, provides slow burning energy and has numerous health benefits (as outlined here and here). Sounds pretty good to me!
Now, obviously there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and this doesn’t take into account individual needs, but I’d encourage you to do some research of your own. The LCHF approach certainly seems to tick all the boxes for me, as well as encouraging a balanced WOE.
Peace, love and health,