Friday, 30 August 2013

Diet days

Despite the advances in medical science, I think healthy eating is becoming more difficult than ever. Yes, there are all the unhealthy treats but even foods labelled as healthy rarely are when you read the ingredients. It is also difficult to lose or maintain weight when we are all so busy all the time. Fitting in exercise and (in my case) watching portion sizes when you are tired and hungry and LOVE food is a big challenge.

Last week I tried the Dukan diet which promises fast weight loss and long term maintenance with a high protein, low carb low fat basis. I did lose some weight and can see the advantages but the Dukan diet is not my thing. I can't eat that much protein and feel human. I have no energy without some healthy carbs and life is too short not to enjoy the food you eat. And I don't really need to lose weight, I just wanted to. However, I think it is a reasonably good diet for someone who has a bit of weight to lose, especially if you really like meat.  I have no doubt that some significant initial weight-loss is very helpful to keep a dieter on track and as long as people aren't eating too much artificial sweetener along the way it it sounds like a reasonably nutritious and long-term sustainable eating plan (I do need to say that I don't think the diet part is terribly nutritious, protein-only days are hideous but if you just did a couple a week and ate low carb vegies the rest of the time it isn't so bad).

Working in health has taught me that a lot of people do not have a good concept of calories and fat and what 'healthy eating' actually is. Some people need a list of allowed foods, they need to get over their addiction to sugar (essentially what the Attack Phase does) and reintroduce high carb foods down the track once they understand portion control (carbs are reintroduced in the Consolidation Phase and then long-term Stabilisation involves normal eating patterns but with one diet day per week to keep on-track).

Many overweight people do not have any real education in healthy eating. One time a mother was asking my advice on Pharmacy diet-pills for her teenage daughter. The answer was- Do Not Waste Your Money. I advised her to go to a dietician. She told me her daughter eats healthy food now but is still not losing weight. When asked what she eats this was the answer:
Breakfast: Cereal with milk
Lunch: a bread roll with salami on it
Dinner: Pasta with a home made sauce
I reiterated that a dietician would really be able to help. Most of us eat too many carbs (I do, I love them!) and not enough vegetables and this girl is a prime example.

The Dukan experiment was because I was looking for a plan for myself to help maintain weight because it is becoming more challenging to stay the same size than it used to be. I think I will use the principles of the dukan diet and The Fast Diet (5:2) which is, essentially to eat low fat, high protein, and, in the case of the fast diet, low calorie for a couple of days per week to maintain weight. I am going to call it my detox day where 2 days per week I eat clean and lean: high protein, low carb (avoiding bread, rice, pasta but allowing vegies, lentils, fruit and good fats), and vegetarian because whilst I eat meat very happily, it is better for our world if we don't eat too much.

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