I’ve opened up a can of worms. I dared to point someone towards a blog entry that tries to debunk the calories myth. I wasn’t trying to force my views on someone anymore than the WW or Jenny Craig member were, but I think daring to suggest there is an alternative was a step too far. Because I’m going against “what years of science have proved”. We all know though, that science can sometimes get it wrong, and the whole calorie thing is still a relatively new concept in the world of science. It is still learning about the variables. And really, I’m not going against what science says, but i’m opening up the idea that it isn’t really that simple.
It works short term, sure, we all know eating nothing but vegetable soup all week will see us drop pounds (and spend hours on the loo). But what about the long term effects? Our body is in a constant panic that we might go into starvation mode. It is an expert at consuming as little energy as it needs in times of stress. It will hold on to every ounce of fat if it thinks there’s not going to be a decent meal. And what of the effects of yo yo dieting? Your body knows the score now. You had a binge, but now you’re starving yourself for the foreseeable future. Better drop that metabolism right down. And with all those vitamin and mineral deficiencies you can’t expect to work at full effective speed.
Sure, in the early years, in your teens and twenties calories in/calories out is pretty reliable. You haven’t done the extensive years of damage to your body. But as the years tick by, and the weight comes and goes, your body has to work harder and harder in protecting itself from the next binge.
How many times do you go through a diet dreaming of cakes and biscuits? The sheer deprivation you are putting yourself through is doing things to your brain that you wouldn’t wish on your enemy! Your sense of smell is suddenly super acute as you go past the bakery or take away. And all of a sudden pizza sellers are dropping menus through your door on an hourly basis. But your resolve is strong. You have a little black dress to fit into for the Christmas Party. So long as you can get to that party, in that little black dress, everything will be ok. You will look stunning, and you’ll finally be able to have a slice of cake and maybe a cocktail sausage or two.
But it’s what comes after the party that does as equally damaging stuff to your body. Your body, that was coping with a minimal diet is now being bombarded with all those foods you’d deprived it of. Suddenly it has high volumes of fat and sugar to deal with. And in your younger days it could deal with it, but now, it is feeling sluggish.
But we keep putting our bodies through the same thing time and again. We keep looking for that miracle diet, because one day, one of them will surely last forever!
Here’s a good link discussing the whole myth, and dieting world.
A big point also, is that diets fail because they do not address the psychological reason around weight gain. You might be a comfort eater, you might be a boredom eater, you might be scared of exercise. For me, I have had a weight issue for as long as I can remember. Even when I was slim I felt fat, because it was a psychological issue, I couldn’t see my body as it was, and I couldn’t see myself as ok. Notice I didn’t say I couldn’t love myself, the fact is I couldn’t even accept myself. And when we spend all our time bombarded by media views that we need to be slim and beautiful, when we fall for the lie that we are unacceptable as we are, no diet in the world is going to convince us otherwise. And then, when we still feel hideous and unacceptable at a lower weight, we start to look for those comforts we have always relied on, maybe a bar of chocolate and a film, or a bottle of wine, something to give us some feel good factor.
There is a big lie that dieting companies like to throw out regularly “Nothing tastes as good as slim feels”. Actually, it’s true if you’re on one of those diets eating their fat free sugar free concoctions, because they really don’t taste good, and feeling slim would have to be better in comparison. But eating a proper, well cooked, nurturing meal? Something warming on a winters day? Maybe a warm stew with dumplings. Tasting every mouthful, enjoying the flavours and sensations, and stopping when you’ve had enough to satisfy. Feeling in control around food, and knowing you can enjoy food like you actually want to. That feels so much better than simply feeling slim.
I won’t deny, feeling slim and enjoying food will be great too. 😉