Friday, October 15, 2010

All in the mind

Forget the visible, offensive bulges of unwanted fat on your body, and start your eating-for-health plan by concentrating on the mass between your ears, behind your eyes and above your mouth. Yes, I’m talking about your knowing and knowledgeable brain.

Let’s look at what we know, and check whether we have our facts straight.

‘A kilojoule is a kilojoule / A calorie is a calorie’.
Is this true? I don’t think so. You can follow a calorie/kilojoule restricted diet and not lose weight or get healthy, if they are the wrong kind of calories/kilojoules. 100 calories from fats (butter, margarine, oil, cream, etc) is far more fattening and unhealthy (in my mind) than the same number from protein, vegetables or fruit. There are 4 calories to every gram of carbohydrate or protein, but 9 in every gram of fat! If you’re interested, alcohol has 7 calories per gram. For health, your daily intake of fats should not exceed 30% of your total daily calories; so if you are consuming between 1800 and 2000 calories per day that allows you a maximum of 600 calories from fats, or 65 grams. The problem with fats is that very often they are ‘hidden’; even when they are visible, you don’t realize just how much you are using.

‘Cut out fats, they make you fat’.
Do not eliminate fats completely. We need fats to maintain healthy supple skin and reactive nerves. Rather cut back on the saturated fats and go for the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties. The only fats to eliminate altogether are trans-fatty acids.

‘To lose weight, you have to go on a diet’.
No, no, no! To lose weight, you need to make healthy food choices – for the rest of your life! And monitor and moderate your portion sizes. Forever. Diets are usually undertaken for a limited time period (you give up or the x-days plan finishes); they are not healthy in the long term, and some of them are very expensive to keep up.

‘To lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more’.
In my own weight loss experience, I actually had to eat more. I had been skipping breakfast, and very often lunch, too, as well as not eating much for supper. Now I eat three meals a day, and snack on fresh fruit if I feel the need – and I have maintained a weight loss of 18kg for over a year. So eat less of the foods you know to be unhealthy and more of the good stuff. Any reader who has been following me for a while knows that I don’t ‘do’ exercise – I run the house, do all the cleaning, washing and ironing and play with my 2 year old grandson in the afternoons, that’s my exercise. But the objective of exercise in a healthy lifestyle is to be fit. Being fit raises the metabolism so that you burn more calories all the time, and not just while you are working out.

‘Sugar is out’.
All foods are digested and converted to saccharide chains, and sugar is no different. It does have a very high GI, so raises blood sugar levels very quickly. Sugar can still be part of a healthy diet, though, just keep consumption low. Keep in mind that continued use of sugar – or sugar substitutes – may well maintain a craving for sweet things.

Did that expose any diet myths, or did you know it all already?


Roberto said...

Hi Sphinx
100% correct.
I believe 'diet' is a dirty, four letter word. I've never heard of anyone sticking to a regimen like a diet, yet maintaining healthy weight loss.
A change of lifestyle and eating habits, as you suggest, are the way to go.
Great work.

Sphinx said...

Yes, indeed, diet is a dirty word, and I try to avoid using it whenever possible! 'Diets' are usually very restrictive and teach you nothing about healthy eating - you may lose weight initially, but it will all come back (+ a bit more!) when you stop the diet. Nice to see you again, Bob. Thanks for the visit and comment.