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Posts tagged ‘Disordered eating’

The fad diet pretending not to be a fad diet…

The latest thing in the world of fad diets, is to strongly deny that you are in fact selling a fad diet!

I read a lot of books, and they are not all good. I read all sorts of books in the name of learning, including diet books. I make it my business to read lots of diet books, just so that I am aware of what’s going on in the diet industry and I am constantly looking to learn, to pick up nuggets of information. In my experience, the great majority of fad diets actually do have some kind of science or common sense at their core, there is usually a good idea at the foundation, it’s just a shame that all too often it become lost in the commercialisation, or twisted all out of shape in the excessive detail.

And so it is this week, I am reading a diet book, it’s rather well known, so I shall not name the book, as I am not in the business of speaking ill of others, but the text has amused me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Throughout the book, from the very start, the text repeatedly states that this is not a fad diet, that “unlike most fad diets, this…” is different, and that ‘they don’t work’, but what’s in this book does. The book explains that “when you are on [this system] you are not on a constant treadmill, dieting all the time” but then in the very next sentence, it explains that you have ‘diet days’ and ‘non-diet days’ and so if you want a bar of chocolate, just have the will power to resist it one day and then… “You can have it tomorrow”!

Oh my word!

Throughout this best-selling book, and I must have read statements that “this is different, this is not a fad diet” at least twenty to twenty five times. Yet here are some of the other things I have read – quoted directly from the text:

“While you are doing it” [The diet, they mean.]

“Our regime of exercises”

The book states that “…in order to be effective, the method…needs to go on holiday with you…you need to be able to do it in the office…you need to be able to cope with Christmas” and then on those same pages, they spell out strict days counting calories, strict days checking your macros, balancing proteins and carbs, and they spell out meal timings and when you should eat.

The book is even called “The [X name] Diet” – surely that’s a sign of a diet???!!!??

“Unlike deprivation diets…on this plan…tomorrow there may be pancakes for breakfast, wine with supper, apple pie with cream.”

The text instructs you to “cut your calories on [this] day”…but tomorrow “you can eat as normal.”

“Tomorrow you can eat as normal” – is the very stereotypical wording of a fad diet! Modify your behaviour X way for a few days, massively cutting calories, then eat chocolate bars and apple pie tomorrow!! If that’s not a fad diet, I don’t know what is!

The book talks constantly of weight loss as the primary goal, and of cutting and counting calories as the principle method to achieve this weight loss, of severely calorie restricted days, it spells out low calorie recipes, daily meal plans for low calorie days, and then uses phrases like “Unlike full-time fad diets, you’ll still get pleasure from food, you’ll still have treats…” They are trying to distance themselves from the world of ‘slimming clubs’ which restrict calories but award ‘sin points’ or ‘red points’ to treats, allowing you ‘a little of what you fancy’ within a system of counting numbers – calories, macros, sins, sugar, etc. Yet in effect, this diet is exactly the same – caloric restriction some days, and ‘eat your treats’ on others.

The book describes the dangers of ‘hedonic eating’ and the text claims Read more

Fat shaming, beach bodies and thigh gaps…

Fat shaming, plus size models, beach bodies and the thigh gap – why are we even having these conversations?

I wrote this a while back, when the singer Lady Gaga came in for some so-called ‘fat shaming’ criticism after her performance at the Super Bowl a couple of months ago. Take a look at the pictures of her performing, here in this news article, and see what you think.

First off, anyone who thinks that what they see in these pictures is somehow overweight, or some kind of ‘jelly belly’ or ‘muffin top’ then they have some serious issues around body image perception and they need to get educated on what is a healthy level of body fat. Let me put this in plain English – if you think that is ‘fat’, then you’re part of the problem. Seriously, no wonder so many young people, especially girls, have body image problems and develop eating disorders, when people seem unable to differentiate between ‘slim‘ and ‘muffin top‘.

Time and again, long-term epidemiological studies show that ‘overweight’ is just as healthy, or often healthier, than ‘normal’ weight when it comes to longevity and all-cause mortality. As I have said many times in my live seminars, the truth is that ‘pinch an inch’ is actually healthier than a rippling 6-pack. That’s not to deny that many of us covet low enough body fat to have visible abs, and as such it’s fair to say that ‘vanity goals’ are not without merit – they can support strong self esteem, body confidence and so on, but there is no evidence that ‘washboard abs lean’ is particularly any healthier than ‘normal’.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that the obsession with being thin is Read more

Nah-nah-na-na-nah my addiction is worse than yours…

Regular readers know that for a good few years I was into the world of Personal Development books and seminars and so on…I still am to a less feverish degree. I always remember something Tony Robbins talks about, he used to say how weird it is when people meet and the conversation goes something like this…

Person A: Hi, how are you?
Person B: Ah not too bad I suppose. You?
A: Well I could be better, I mean my boss is a pain in the ass and my doctor says I need to lose some weight, my blood pressure is high.
B: Yeah I know what you mean, my boss is a jerk, and the people I work with are just idiots, every day in that place drives me nuts. And I have this back pain, and I get this cough, and my doctor says it might be hereditary…
A: Yeah well my father died of a heart attack so the blood pressure thing is a big deal in my family, and all the men on my father’s side dies young, and my wife’s no help, she keeps doing this and doing that…and the kids wind me up…so I drink too much…and we’re in debt right now, cos of the car payment and the medical bills…

And so the conversation goes, it’s like “a race to the bottom” to see who has the most shit going on and who can be the most miserable! And we see this all the time, people post a status on Facebook about some injury they got “I went skiing, broke my arm” and underneath a bunch of folks are like “Oh that’s nothing, I went skiing and broke both my legs!” “Oh you guys are amateurs, I went skiing and broke my own head off!” It’s like we are all competing to have the worst crap going on in our lives out of every one we know!

I think people do this, subconsciously, to excuse their failings. I mean, if you believe that life is hard, getting rich is really difficult, finding the wonderful loving partner of your dreams is only for the lucky few, being in great shape and amazing good health requires sacrifice and dedication that few are prepared to give, success is difficult, happiness and fulfillment are hard to achieve – if we all buy into these ideas, then we have excuses for having rather mediocre, or downright crappy, results in our lives. If we convince ourselves it’s all hard, then we are more likely to settle for average.

My addiction is worse than yours

In a similar vein, I have recently seen (on Facebook) a discussion in a Health Group about ‘sugar addiction’ – and these folks were getting so insanely competitive, judgemental and insulting to each other it made me leave the Group. Someone was saying that it’s truly hard to beat this sugar addiction, and in this big Group (15,000 plus members) they were just torn apart – folks writing insults and saying “you know nothing about addiction, I was on heroine for 14 years, nearly died, you just like a cake, eff off what do you know” and then the next person to comment would feel the need to “compete for the bottom” and push further “I spent 22 years in puddles of my own vomit, selling my own sister for drug money, how dare you liken your desire for chocolate bar to the hell I went through” and then the next “I grew up in the sex trade, I was a child slave, I raped my own father, my life was a living hell for 50 years, I sold my soul to the devil himself…” and on and on and on.

Obviously I’m not quoting real people here, but honestly the thread was like that…hundreds of people, throwing insults, belittling each other, belittling that anyone’s addiction to food, or sugar, could possibly be a serious health challenge compared to the way other people’s lives have been wrecked by alcohol and narcotics. It was the ultimate race to the bottom, like we were all supposed to give some kind of kudos to the must messed up person in the Group. It was shameful to read, shameful to be in a Group with people with that mentality.

The voice of common sense

After that episode, a week or two ago, yesterday I saw a post from the frequently-brilliant and frequently-amusing Alex Viada. If you don’t know this man, he’s an outstanding athlete, author and coach at Complete Human Performance, I suggest you check him out and if you are interested in strength training, endurance sport, or both, buy his superb first book. (No, I am not on a commission, I am just recommending this excellent book!)

So to the point of this newsletter today – yesterday Alex wrote this (quote verbatim):

The sugar addiction debate is back, which reminds me of this field’s stunning inability to understand its own purpose.

The question of whether or not sugar is actually “addictive” is moot. Yes, the nonsense documentaries and poor understanding of science that shows dopamine release and pleasure centers lighting up after consuming sugar, and pointing to similarities in how the little bits light up after taking in heroin (this is serious science) are intentionally misleading. But the response completely misses the point.
Who cares that glucose does not and cannot create similar physiological and psychological addictions that many drugs can? The behaviors exhibited by many who struggle with food intake, especially high palatability, calorie dense foods, mirror the behaviors of drug addicts in that understanding the latter gives us an effective model for treating the former. Read more

Bashing sugar, bashing carbs, bashing grains…bashing each other?

Bashing sugar, bashing carbs, bashing grains…bashing each other. How is all this in-fighting actually helping anyone?

In-fighting within the ‘nutrition, diet and health’ industry, it seems, is a problem escalating even more rapidly that the much-talked-about obesity epidemic.

My kind friend alerted me to this piece in the news this week, titled ‘Bad fad – Ruby Tandoh on how clean eating turned toxic’ This follows on from a BBC Horizon episode that screened last week, which attacked the trend for ‘clean eating’ and looked at a number of cook books that promote ‘clean eating’ as a diet trend. To be honest I don’t watch TV, I have not watched the show, and a number of trusted friends who watched it have assured me I didn’t miss much! So, I will save my hour for watching something better, like Joel Salatin on farming, or Rhonda Patrick and Bruce Ames discussing micronutrients, or I’ll grab myself some motivation and exercise tips from Erin Stern working a Tabata circuit.

Anyway, back to our clean eating post.

Goodness, where do I begin with this!!!??!?!!

I agree with about half of the article, maybe more, in fact I agree with most of it, the facts and figures and statements about health, food and nutrition, yes I pretty much agree with all of that…but I strongly disagree with the angry, finger pointing, judgemental, aggressive tone of the writing.

Let’s see now, we have a skinny, young, privileged female, who has recovered from an eating disorder, and who blogs to share recipes and sells cookery books, and here she is basically slagging off all the other skinny, young, privileged female food bloggers and cookery book sellers, suggesting that their work promotes eating disorders. Ummm, writers bias anyone? Read more