So, why blog about diet? Mainly, because I have spent my whole life yo-yoing between diets and have never found any eating plan that actually worked. After having my second child earlier this year, I decided that something needed to be done. I was not sleeping (the baby was not a sleeper) and so by the evening, when I would usually embark upon a trip to the gym and my date with the running machine, I was so tired, I could barely make it up the stairs to bed to try and get some sleep before the first wake up at 11pm, followed by the second two hour shift at 3am. Gymming was not an option. This has always been the way I have lost body fat, but with this out of the question for the short term, I needed to discover an eating plan that worked.
I have always been interested in diet and nutrition – it stems from having parents who are obsessed and share articles daily with me on email about nutrition and disease prevention. I knew my diet had degenerated into something that was about speed and easiness rather than taking stock of my nutrient intake. I needed a diet, and lifestyle, overhaul. This seemed a good time to do it.
Initially, I tried a quick fix solution in The Cambridge Plan (3 shakes a day = 400kcal/day) – I lasted until 5pm on the first day, when, in tears I had to eat something. Exhaustion and fatigue, as well as the knowledge that this was all wrong and not a long term solution, led me back to the food cupboard.
Mum then lent me her latest book on food – Louise Parker, Lean for Life. This book rang true in so many ways. It focussed not just on diet, but on the whole body – she instructs you that in order to lose fat you need not just to overhaul your diet, but also your life – she advocates creating a new you free of any poor diet choices and bad habits that you have accumulated over the years. I was all up for this. However, I couldn’t “deal” with my poor sleep – it was not of my choosing, I also couldn’t reorganise my house (owing to a 3 year old son who is intent on undoing any good work you do in this area) – although I did sort out my larder and rehoused the contents back into the glass jars and out of packets – it felt joyous to see an organised room, and I simply never managed to find the time to complete her workout – although I do strongly believe that exercise and good food choices are the only way to long term fat loss. However, I was on my feet all day long with a 6 month old and as I kept reminding myself at 3am while bouncing a baby to try and stop him from waking the 3 year old – not many people get up for a 2 hour workout in the middle of the night! So, I started on the one aspect I did have control over – my food choices. I realised that I was eating because I was hungry and tired and I was making the wrong choices over food.
Making the wrong food choices stems from the last few decades of varying advice about how to reduce body fat. Firstly, you counted calories, then you didn’t need to worry about calories – fat was the new evil. But, in order to make the product fat free, producers increased the sugar. So, we put in more energy than we expend and consequently gained fat. So, what was it – calories or fat? Maybe both? The plethora of diets on the commercial market is huge – from shakes only, to counting calories and weighing food (yes, I’ve done weightwatchers), to eating only meat, to eating only cabbage soup, to drinking just vegetable juices, to taking pills…. no wonder we are confused.
The government food plate recommends a carbohydrate rich diet supplemented with fruit and veg and a small amount of protein. This is where it all starts going wrong.
Latest scientific research shows that we actually overeat on the carbohydrate front and undereat on the vegetable front. We need to revamp our idea of the good food plate.
This is why I call this the diet revolution. We are at a stage now of having amassed a huge amount of knowledge about nutrition and the body’s function. The Medicinal Chef, Dale Pinnock (who is excellent), as well as more recent and high profile names like Jamie Oliver have begun to use this knowledge to inform their cooking. We are what we eat. Diabetes is on the increase. 1 in 10 children are now diabetic due to an over sugared diet. Cancer, heart disease, poor health, event poor mental health can be due to long term dietary imbalances. The diet revolution, which we are now embarking upon is the point at which, we take back the control about food choices and start to ignore diet claims from commercial agencies, with objectives other than the size of our waist.The next few years will, I predict, provide us with more information about our gut bacteria – something we currently largely ignore, but which in our bodies has a huge effect – our bodies contain the same weight in gut bacteria as the weight of your brain. We currently kill them off with an overdependence on antibiotics and a lack of nutrients coming from foods which digest lower down in the gut. Processed carbohydrate eg sliced bread digests rapidly, high in the gut providing few nutrients to our gut bacteria. Nuts and seeds – part of the diet revolution – digest lower down and contain the nutrients needed to sustain these gut bacteria, which are responsible for so many of our body’s requirements.
This diet revolution will recommend us eating a food plate that is predominantly vegetable and non-processed meat with nuts and seeds, with some carbohydrate and fruit. This takes our diet back to that which our bodies were designed to eat and through evolution the foods on which our bodies optimally function. Simply altering your food choices (not starving yourself) will lead to you being slimmer, more energetic (as you are not cycling through sugar highs and lows), with thicker hair and more radiant skin. I know, because this is exactly what happened to me when I switched my diet. The best bit is, it is so easy to do, you just need to grab your life by the horns and do it.