Another day, another diet ...

Woke up this morning to yet another report saying that everything we've been told about food is wrong. This one says that avoiding high fat foods is now wrong. Official advice on low-fat diet and cholesterol is wrong, says health charity.

Today's advice

According to the article on the BBC website, the original report says:

  • Eating fat does not make you fat - True, it depends how much you eat
  • Saturated fat does not cause heart disease and full-fat dairy is probably protective - There is some evidence for this
  • Processed foods labelled "low fat", "lite", "low cholesterol" or "proven to lower cholesterol" should be avoided - Anything that says Processed should be treated with caution
  • Starchy and refined carbohydrates should be limited to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes - Anything that says Refined should be treated with caution
  • Optimum sugar consumption for health is zero - Probably true, since refined sugar isn't a natural product
  • Industrial vegetable oils should be avoided - Anything edible that says Industrial on it definitely should be treated with extreme caution
  • People should stop counting calories - Nope, wrong. It's a very simple equation, if you eat less calories than you expend you lose weight. If you eat more, you put on weight. Counting calories helps you make sure that you're definitely eating less, and tends to make you aware of what you are eating. It also helps you notice snacking.
  • You cannot outrun a bad diet - True, but it can help if all you're doing is eating too many calories
  • Snacking will make you fat - Yarp
  • Evidence-based nutrition should be incorporated into education curricula for all healthcare professionals - Yarp

The italics, in case you hadn't guessed, are my comments on it.

Needless to say there are already almighty fights brewing amongst all the experts on this advice - Public Health England: Advice to eat more fat 'irresponsible.

Do we need more advice?

Well, we do need to do something. Governments and health organisations are worried about the current epidemic of obesity in the Western world. And rightly so, obesity causes health problems. I don't think anyone would deny that. So why are we getting fatter? Simple, our lifestyles have changed so that we tend to be less active and tend to eat more food. On that basis, I'd say the answer is pretty obvious. Cut down the amount of food we eat and/or increase the amount of exercise we do. Problem is of course, that people find this hard to do. Am I going to get on my pedestal and say that people should suck it up and get on with it? Don't be ridiculous - if I did that I'd be an over-weight hypocrite. And yes, I am over-weight … again. I changed jobs about 18 months ago and went to a very sedentary desk job with easy access to a food shop. Bad news. I managed to gain over a kilo a month. Not good :(

The Revolutionary New Idea

So I'm going on try a revolutionary new idea to reverse this unhappy situation. Every day I'm going to eat a little else and walk a little more than normal. With a bit of luck that'll tip the balance of that equation I mentioned before in my favour.

eat less calories than you expend = weight loss

What's even more radical is that with this diet, is that I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want - just a little less of it. The only rule is that the number of calories I eat, must be less than the number of calories I expend each day. Other than that, anything goes.

What a greater diet! Maybe we could market it to other people, we'll need a snappy name to do that. How about:

The Moderation Diet - the only diet where you can eat anything you want, whenever you want … just in moderation.

So why has no one else thought of this brilliant idea before? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. They have. It's a great idea but there are quite a few problems with it:

  • It's far too simple.
  • Everyone can understand it
  • It's only takes one sentence to explain it. "Eat less, lose weight".
  • It doesn't need anything special to do it. You just eat less.

All of which means you can't market it.

  • No one is going to pay for an idea they already know even if they don't want to admit it.
  • You can't write a book about an idea you can express four words, no matter how hard you try. Actually I'll amend that - you can't write a good book, people can and do write bad books about simple ideas, but they have to pad and waffle a lot.
  • The food industry can't make millions by selling you less of something. They can make millions if they can convince you it's different - usually by slapping the words "Diet" or "Low Fat" or even "Fat Free" on it.

Which means that you won't find the multi-million pound diet industry trying to sell you the idea that you can lose weight just by eating less. They'd far rather sell you an idea that you can lose weight but only if you follow their revolutionary new idea, and eat their special new Diet foods. And they need a steady stream of them to keep people's interest.

Hence another day, another diet :)


“Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation” — Edward R. Murrow



Jamie Whitehorn

Jamie Whitehorn

A self proclaimed geek who loves technology, data, computers, photography and science; but balances this by spending time with his wonderful better half and their dogs and horses in the countryside.

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