Monday, 13 June 2016
RANT: THE DIET AND WEIGHT LOSS INDUSTRY
Hi loves! I'm coming at you with a bit of a rant today, no one particular event or person has sparked this blog post, it's just something that niggles at me on a near daily basis when I see posts on social media, or hear people talking about this issue. The issue I'm talking about is the diet and weight loss industry and more specifically, how much it exploits people with lies and manipulation. I'm not going to start naming any specific diet plans or brands as, for one thing, I don't think I need to, as you'll all know the sort of thing I'm talking about, I also don't disagree with absolutely everything about every diet plan or weight loss brand and of course, I don't want to offend anybody, or have anyone feel as though this post is personal to them, as it is very general. That being said, I am going to be very open and honest in my opinions as I do genuinely think this is a topic that needs to be discussed more than it already is. Let me explain.
To clarify, I'm by no means an expert on these things, however, I've done some very basic nutritional training and have taken a lot of time to educate myself on nutrition and health, so while I may not know everything there is to know, I do feel that I have enough knowledge to comment on this. I have enough education to know that calorie restriction and under-eating is bad for you. It can be hard to believe or hard to take for some people as words and phrases like 'under 100 calories', 'low calorie', 'reduced fat/ sugar' or 'zero calories' are plastered on products like they're something worth shouting about and something that should and does entice people to buy it.
So many products, brands and plans promote low calorie, restrictive diets and offer tips on feeling 'less hungry' or 'more full on less food' and I think this is insane. While I do understand that sometimes, in some extreme cases, drastic calorie cutting may be necessary for rapid, life saving weight loss, this is not the situation that the majority of people following these plans are in and this is not the issue that I'm talking about. I'm talking about the vast majority, who are just regular people who are overweight (or in some cases, not overweight at all!) that want to shed a few pounds and decide to join a group or follow a plan to do so. A plan that promises you'll lose a stone in two months or four pounds per week provided you eat less than 1500 calories a day and do exercise on top (that, by the way, your body probably doesn't even have the physical energy or correct nutrition to even handle).
While I do genuinely admire those who know they are of an unhealthy weight and want to do something about it, what I absolutely cannot stand is the lies they're being fed on their journey to get to where they want to be. You see, so many of these plans promote calorie restriction and counting of points or whatever and this is just so unsustainable. Living every single day recording what you eat and counting calories would be considered disordered eating if someone of a normal or lower weight was doing it and yet we're supposed to do that if we're trying to lose weight? One thing that really got me was seeing that a particular plan allowed unlimited amounts of diet fizzy drinks, as they're zero calorie. This is despite the hideous and dangerous chemicals in these drinks, this alone proves just how little actual nutrition is taken into consideration when these plans are put together. They do not care if you're healthy. Just that your calories are low enough for you to lose weight fast. You're applauded for losing weight quickly and I've seen girls so guilty after gaining a pound. One. Pound. Sometimes I literally weigh two pounds more than usual before I pee in the morning - it's so focused on weight loss and not on actual improved health and that is so damaging.
They suggest chocolate bars that are made of caramel because they're lower calorie and take longer to eat, 'tricking' your brain into thinking you're full, but guess what? You're not full on a 100kcal bar of chocolate as a crappy snack, But then of course, after weeks or months of calorie restriction, you binge, you have one slice of pizza then keep going and going because your body is begging for an actually satisfying meal and you beat yourself up because you have 'no self control' and you need to have 'more discipline' when this is actually not the case. Your body cannot run on a low calorie diet and intense exercise for an extended period of time, it just does not work. These companies rely on people 'going back to old habits', because then you sign up again, or keep buying their branded meals and products in order to shed the weight you put back on. This is, in turn, destroying people's self confidence and convincing them that there's something wrong with them because they can't be like all the people in the so called 'success stories', who lost the weight and kept it off. If this sounds like you then please hear me: IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.
If you disagree with me then that's fine, but what I'm saying is proven fact, it is not sustainable to eat a low calorie diet forever and live on diet coke and low calorie crisps just because they keep your daily intake under a certain number. You are not a failure because you can't stick to your plan, you're a normal human being whose body is practically forcing you to give it what it desperately needs. Calorie restriction causes metabolic damage, eating low calorie for a long time can and will damage your metabolism, therefore when you do start eating more again, even if that's a perfectly healthy amount, your body may well store the additional food as fat, because it's bloody terrified of going back into starvation mode and wants to retain all it can just in case! Your body is smart, it knows what it needs and when we try to go against that, it will fight back. It's not your 'lack of self control' it's your body's survival instinct.
Chloe's Way is definitely not a place for preaching the vegan lifestyle, but I would of course suggest it to those looking to lose weight in a healthy way. Eating plant based provides you with all the nutrients you need (though keep an eye on Vitamin B12 and D if you don't get much sun!) all the while completely eradicating cholesterol and animal fats from your diet, which are proven causes not only of diseases such as heart disease and some cancers, but also of weight gain. At least cutting down on meat, dairy and eggs (all high in fat, cholesterol and hormones) can do wonders for you. Plant based foods (unless you're loading up on oreos and crisps!!) are naturally lower in calories, meaning you can eat a large, satisfying meal and not have to worry about over eating. I strongly suggest watching the documentary Forks Over Knives to hear more about the health benefits of a plant based diet and what effects animal products can have on our health. There's no animal slaughter or violence shown in this film for those sensitive to it, but it may be an interesting watch for those wanting to learn more about the health aspect.
A very simple way to look at it is this. You go into the supermarket in search of a snack, you see a Banana for 110 calories, a small back of plain almonds for 170 calories, a 100% natural green smoothie at 200 calories or a weight loss brand chocolate bar bragging that it's 'Less than 80 calories!' - which one do you buy? If it's the chocolate bar, consider exactly what you're about to put into your body. Consider that you have possibly just been exploited by an industry that wants you to put low calorie over actual nutrition. If these plans worked they wouldn't exist any more. If they had a huge fool proof, sustainable weight loss secret, people would have shared it by now, we'd all be doing it and they'd be out of business. But there is no secret, the truth is right there, buy the damn banana, not all calories are created equal. Your body knows what to do with natural, whole foods, but the chemical shit storm from your diet drinks and low calorie treats will provide no nutrition and likely no satisfaction either.
So, that's my little rant about the diet industry, as you can tell, I definitely have some strong opinions and I'd love to hear yours in the comments below. As always I'm open to opinions from either side of the argument, but keep it respectful!