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Why diets don’t work. But we still need to try… - I Love Greens - I Love Greens

Why diets don’t work. But we still need to try…

20th July 2012

With the New Year resolutions looming I thought it might be a good idea to re-visit this blog post from earlier this year about diets……

Happy New Year!!


This week’s Stylist Magazine article on ‘Why Diets don’t work’ has got me thinking.  Whilst I agree that most diets don’t work in the long term we can’t ignore the fact that the population in the UK is becoming increasingly heavier.

The Government reported this year that in 2010 around 26% of the adult population was obese (body mass index (BMI) of 30 and over) and they expect this figure to increase by around 14% in the next 12 years. Now we’re only talking about people who are obese – there are also a lot of people who fall into the ‘overweight category (BMI of 25-29).

I expect some people say that it’s their right to eat what they like and that they don’t care for physical appearance.  However, being obese dramatically increases your risk of developing conditions such as type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and even cancer – just to name a few.  It’s the ailing NHS who has to pick up the bill for treating all of these conditions and at this rate it’s going to buckle. So quite clearly something has got to be done – we can’t just say diets don’t work and carry on the way we are.

I going to give my thoughts as to why diets don’t work but I’m also going to give some practical tips for healthy eating and explain why the I Love Greens weight management programme (I hate the word diet in this context!) is a great step to achieving a ‘healthy’ BMI.  In the meantime, if you want to work out your own BMI then follow this link the NHS BMI healthy weight calculator.

  • My number one theory as to why diets don’t work is that people don’t actually know what they are eating.  There is little understanding of the main food groups, why we need these foods and the effects of these foods on the body.  In other words there is a complete lack of education when it comes to nutrition.  When I see a client one of the first things I do is explain what carbohydrate, fat and protein all are – I link it to foods and I explain why we need each of these macronutrients.  For some people simply understanding is enough to make them reassess what they are eating.  For example, part of this process involves dispelling the myth that all fats are bad – which is what we have all be brainwashed to believe since the introductions of low fat foods in the 1970’s.  And just so that you know, the right kind of fats can actually aid weight loss – who would have thought?!
  • It also seems to me that people associate a diet with feelings of deprivation and hunger.  Now if you’re on a low calorie diet then the chances are you are going to feel this way.  And depending on the foods you eat in order to achieve this low calorie affair, you can also find yourself feeling tired, dizzy, and irritable – all those feelings that make it difficult to stay away from the biscuit tin.  However, if you’re eating the right foods calories don’t need to be counted and I can guarantee you’ll never feel hungry.  In fact on the I Love Greens weight management programme almost everyone says how full they are and how they almost struggle to eat enough! And if you really want to avoid the feelings of deprivation you need to follow the 80-20 rule and learn to make trade-offs.  If you had an ultra-indulgent main course for dinner, follow this with a fruit dessert. We need to think about our food choices in the same way we budget our spending – we can’t have everything all the time and sometimes we need to decide what we want more – a new pair Kurt Geiger skyscraper heels or the latest Topshop dress!
  • Did you know that your hormones can affect your weight?  I’m not talking about sex hormones (although they can have an effect), but hormones such as insulin, cortisol, ghrelin, peptide YY and leptin.
    • Insulin is the hormone released when we eat carbohydrates, not only does it enable the sugar from carbs to be used for energy but it also encourages fat storage. Ideally we want to limit and slow down the secretion of insulin when we eat to enable to body to burn fat rather than store more of it.
    • Cortisol is one of the ‘stress’ hormones and poor eating habits can cause an increase in the amount secreted.  Cortisol can cause an increase in fat deposits around that all important mid-drift area.
    • Ghrelin and neuropeptide Y are actually neurotransmitters (similar to hormones) which act to increase feeding when they detect the body being starved, and by starved I mean calorie restricted.
    • Leptin, which sends signals to the brain to decrease feeding when energy supplies are plentiful, is switched off and so this is yet another signal to the body that it needs to eat.  What’s interesting is that it seems obese people eventually become resistant the effects of leptin because such high levels are constantly released telling the brain to stop eating as energy supplies are adequate – making it even more difficult to lose weight because they never feel full.

As you can see our brains haven’t evolved as quickly as our environment, it still thinks that when calorie intake drops enough, we’re entering a period of famine and so all energy reserves (fat) must be conserved!  If only it understood just how (too) abundant food is in the western world.  The I Love Greens weight management programme is balanced to ensure metabolism doesn’t fall whilst providing the right foods in the right balance to encourage the body to use up energy stores

  • Do you know what vitamins and minerals you’re getting in your diet, especially when living on processed ‘diet foods’?  These nutrients are absolutely vital for the body to function properly.  Conditions such as iron deficiency anaemia (iron), rickets (calcium), pernicious anaemia (vitamin B12), and scurvy (vitamin C) are all caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet.  An optimum level of nutrients in the body can help to ensure all processes (including energy production) are maintained at the best rate to support weight loss. These nutrients are also needed to help support the liver in detoxification of nasty substances which were previously stored with fat.  Most diets pay little, if any attention to ensuring that nutrient levels are adequate, let alone optimum, but with the right balance the body can be supported in weight loss.

So as you can see, it’s not quite as simple as eat less, weight less – but I guess most of you already knew that through a fair amount of experience!  Having said that we can’t ignore the scales – what you weigh is an important predictor of current and future health – we just need to find better ways of achieving our goals and maintaining them for life!

If you want to learn more about the I Love Greens weight management plan or other ways to improve your health through food then drop me line on nicola@ilovegreens.co.uk or visit the contact page of the I Love Greens website

ilovegreens :-)

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