Disclaimer: this is a rant post. It may offend you. It may anger you. It may strike you as a tad too bitchy, so if you don’t feel like you want to expose yourself to some truths about what’s wrong with us, some honest picture as I see it – then please do not read it. Go to the pancake recipe, I’ll understand. You may find it a wake up call. You may stop and think. Either way I just need to get this off my chest.
For a better part of the past 8 years I’ve been in a debate over whether it is commonly known what foods are healthy and how to attain health through food choices or not. My claim has always been – yes, it is, how can it not be? How can we not know whether a carrot is better than a piece of cake? And when one puts it this bluntly, yes, most of us will recognize that a piece of vegetable is healthier than a piece of cake (even though they are both sugars). But this analogy is only skin deep and the issue runs deep into human desire to have the cake and eat it too.
As humans we do not like to sacrifice the things we like, much less the things we love – and food we love very much. We simply don’t want to give up them up and this happens to be the main culprit of our bulging muffin tops. So, we will do anything in our power to convince ourselves that it is not entirely necessary to give up the things we love to eat in order to lose weight in various ways described below, not knowing there is a better way.
- Some will jump on the new fad diet that promises not to deprive them of the foods they like. To the contrary, the new kid on the block – The If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet phenomenon – will encourage you to fill up on candy, ice-cream, cookies and anything else that you might be currently eating and tell you in the same breath that this is healthy and you will lose weight, if only you count your macronutrients. The makers of this WOE will give you an arbitrary combination of how much fat, protein and carbs you should eat in order to lose weight and no matter where they come from, as long as you count them, you will lose. This premise taps into the idea that there are no bad foods and that it is unhealthy to ban certain foods from one’s diet as a result of society perceiving them as unhealthy – we’ll end up eating them anyway. Like a little kid whose mother says he can’t stay up to watch TV, he will find a way to do it anyway, behind her back. We will do the same to the banned foods. So, you are better off allowing yourself to eat everything you desire as long as you count the macros, because that way you will never fall off the wagon. The idea is very attractive, however, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the application of this fad on IG and I can only say one thing: 99% of people using this WOE are overweight. I know of only one person who has enough self control not to gorge on all the “non-diet” food. Most of us see it as an opportunity to let loose – we’re doing it anyway, so why make ourselves count all this tasty “foods”? This approach also does not take into account each person’s individual tolerance of the forbidden, sugary foods – insulin sensitivity. If you have been eating predominantly carb oriented diet (which you probably have been if you are seeking to lose weight), then your insulin sensitivity is highly affected. So, continuing to eat more sugary foods will not help you any. And secondly, if you meet your macronutrient needs only from sugar laden foods, you are bound to be deficient in micronutrients and while it might not show right away if you re good at controlling these foods, it will show later on in your life. I like the take on IIFYM as presented by Paul Salter in his article titled Ask The Nutrition Tactician: How Can I Make IIFYM As Healthy As Possible?
- If you haven’t found the latest fad diet that lets you continue putting the junk in the trunk then you are scheming some other version of it yourself. Like I mentioned above, I truly believe that we understand the idea of carrot vs. cake, but we don’t want to believe that it’s really that simple, so we will try to complicate it – we’ll make a carrot cake and try to convince ourselves that the carrot will make the cake a healthy choice. Same goes for low-fat this and low-fat that – like a low-fat muffin for breakfast – it won’t be as bad as full fat muffin. Often times there is a perceived notion that if it’s low-fat then we can eat more of it. I call this a lesser evil phenomenon – and the big companies are making a killing on it. The shelves of your local grocery store, the organic isles in particular, are bursting at seams with sweet potato chips, low-fat chips and cookies, gluten free cookies, you name it, it’s there to tempt you and to promise you that it is better than the conventional alternative. The funny thing is you will pay a premium for these products because they are “better for you”, yet their nutritional label will be similar to if not the same as or worse than the conventional product. Save yourself your money and buy an old plan bag of chips, because you’re not helping your cause by buying into the healthier-version thing.
- And then there is also the “healthier not thinner” WOE. After many failed attempts at losing weight some come to the conclusion that this is it – they are the odd one out who can’t lose weight regardless of what they do. They believe that there is no way out and decide to accept that they will always carry this extra weight. Accepting is easier than making a change, accepting is easier than giving up the foods that add the extra weight. It turns into healthier not thinner kind of thinking, but the truth is healthier also means less fat around the vital organs and less fat around the vital organs means more veg and less junk.
I might sound a bit bitter, like a broken record, not fun and you probably don’t like me already but every single year, in January we are back to the same tune “What’s the secret to getting thin?” The secret is to stop believing there is a secret! Dorritos are not better for you than chips, low-this-and-that will still make you gain weight, there are no special diets – diets are just that, WOE. There is no secret! If you want to lose the muffin, you have to lose the muffin. Simple. People say that thin people have good genetics or that it’s easy for them – no and no. It’s not easy and very few people have good genetics. Most of us also like a muffin but don’t have them for breakfast, low-fat or full-fat. So, I know you know the secret, but you keep choosing to ignore it, because it’s easier that way. Most times I’m too polite to say it to somebody’s face when they ask “how do you do it?”, usually I will just brush it off, say something insignificant and walk away because I feel slighted, so hence my rant. It’s true that it’s none of my business what people put in their mouths and you won’t see me pointing my finger at anybody, because I would not want it done to me, but if you ask me, from now on I will tell you.