There’s a lot of fuss about something called the “Paleo Diet” right now. It attempts to emulate the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, on the premise that eating that kind of food with the same amount of exercise will result in decent and sustainable weight loss.
There seems to be some big debate going on too about how closely a paleolithic diet can actually be copied – there’s no woolly mammoth herds wandering around at the moment!
And that is where the problem with many diets and dieters is – in the words, in the attitude, in the semantics.
- What does the paleo diet recommend you eat? Basically – meat, nuts, berries, that kind of thing. So high protein, low fat. Avoid processed food.
- What does the slow carb diet recommend? High protein, low fat, slow carbs. Avoid processed food.
- What do bodybuilding diets recommend you eat? High protein. Low fat.
Something in common between all of them, wouldn’t you say?
No, not that. More of the fact that a diet high in protein and low in fat tends to also be low calorie. Essentially, these are ways of eating that help you reduce your overall intake of calories, thus enabling weight loss. It’s not necessarily quite as simple as that, as certain combinations work differently with your body, eg the Atkins diet that attempts to start ketosis by strictly limiting carbs – but more of that in another post.
Serious diseases and illnesses are on the rise, as is obesity. Is this because we have global communications and are now aware of these things? Or is it because people eat too much processed chemically enhanced food?
Year after year, new toxins are found in chemicals added to food during the processing, and in some cases nothing is done until “further testing” is completed years later. A pet hate of mine is aspartame – it can cause cancer in lab tests (admittedly in rats), but is used as a sweetener in diet sodas. So you’ll consume less natural sugar (which can be bad for you teeth but your body can process it) and more chemicals (nice teeth – shame you are skinny and likely to get very ill).
Given the choice, I will always go for sugar over sweetener, butter over ‘low fat spread’, fresh brewed coffee over processed instant coffee, and so on. Generally, it tastes better, and won’t kill me in such strange ways. The key here is to limit the amount you have – eating spoon after spoon of butter is a BAD idea!
Everyone will eat the ‘wrong thing’ every now and then. But the key is to learn from your mistakes and don’t worry about it too much. If you go on a strict diet and say that you never cheat, you either have an iron will or are a rather convincing liar. Many diets do now recommend that you take a day off once a week (or 10 days depending…) and this certainly helps. Maybe it slows your progress by a day, but it also means that you won’t have so many uncontrolled binges if you know you can eat something special in a few days time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – life is for living. If there’s a birthday party with snacks, ENJOY IT. It is better to have fun and be happy than to be rake thin and miserable.