A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Diets Are For Quitters!

After reading a couple of WebMD post about why diets do not work in the long term and why we keep falling for them, I was inspired to make it the topic of the day.
A diet is really anything a person, animal, or entire group consumes on a regular basis; but the word “diet” seems to correspond with “restriction” for most people. With the government setting guidelines using pyramids and, more recently, a plate, along with numerous media sources spouting opposing claims on food, it’s no wonder the population is so confused on what to eat. We have commercials, radio, internet pop-ups, SPAM e-mail, and just people making claims about this and that and what is “guaranteed” to make you lose weight or get stronger. The reason for such ambiguity, to me, is simply money.

Most sources spouting their views and ideologies really don’t know 100% what works. For one, each person is different as to how their bodies react to certain foods and exercise. But, these sources making claims that usually go against another claim all have one thing in common; the desire for profit. As salesmen, some do a great job at persuading us that eating this or that will make us simply “shed the fat,” but money is a common motivator either way.

The Atkins Diet is a great example of this. Dr. Atkins comes out with “revealing” information on how a low carbohydrate diet with more fat and protein will result in fat loss. Toss in some great marketing and you have the next big fad diet with many seeing a great way to make some money. With the popular diets like Atkins, there are the brand name products sold as official Atkins approved snacks, meals, and drinks. Like most packaged items, these are usually over processed foods with “functional” ingredients added to make the nutrition label read as desired. With the increase in popularity other foods come out boasting “low carb” or “Atkins approved” on the front, which is usually all most consumers need to see to make the purchase. Then there are multiple cook books (usually including specific name brand ingredients) and success stories online and at the book store. You get the picture; popular diets enable multiple ventures a way to profit through exploitation of the diet’s terms.
There is a plentiful amount of diets that make the claim for better health and weight loss; some may work short term, but most follow strict guidelines and are not good to follow in the long run. If you’ve followed a fad crash diet before, you may recall feeling irritable and run down; not the way you should live just to be healthy.A simple Google search will provide many sources with studies on “why diets do not work”, and most that do, result in the participants gaining all or more of their weight back.
With the wealth of inconsistent information on what and when you should eat, it’s easy to be confused. So, what should you do about it? Take all information you read or hear about food with a grain of salt and ask yourself, “Does the source of this info profit if I follow their advice?” Or maybe, the source has already been paid to give the advice; you never know exactly, but you can’t really expect anyone to care about your health except yourself. Just like Phillip Morris continues to sell tobacco despite the obvious adverse affects, fast food chains will continue to serve that triple-meat burger with bacon and cheese between a glazed donut bun, and big food corps will continue to roll highly processed packaged food out of their plants and into your local grocer.
You, as a consumer, have a choice that affects your actual “diet” and I urge you to give your food more thought. Also, think of what you eat as your standard of living to help get away from the D-Word. One thing I do agree with on most diets is something in the fine print; the diet works if you include daily exercise. Try to be active every day to help your health; cooking is one way to keep you moving more. Here are some great suggestions from the Foodily Blog on how to avoid unhealthy eating habits and actually enjoy and savor food as it should be.

• Veggies are your buddies. Eat ‘em up; all your low-starchy veggies should be unlimited and enjoyed with every meal and snack from red peppers n’ hummus to morning omelets and dinner stir-fries.
• Roast, steam, poach, bake, braise and broil. No more fried food.
• Don’t confuse thirst and hunger. Sip a glass of seltzer with lime before you reach for food.
• Never travel alone. Pack veggies, nuts and dried fruits to keep you full on the go and help you avoid vending machines and temptations.
• Puree berries, melons and bananas to use as a spread atop toast, crackers, salads or sandwiches. You can also use these as homemade ‘ice-creams’ pureed with nut butters and cinnamon.
• Take a bag of frozen veggies out of the freezer in the morning, by the afternoon they’ll be ready to eat and perfectly defrosted to enjoy with your lunch.
• Avoid ‘fat free’ claims on packaging as you’ll be trading fats for loads of sodium or sugar instead.
• Enjoy a bit of lean protein with each meal to keep you full and keep your metabolism runnin’ steady and strong throughout the day.
• Say good-bye to store-bought chips and drive-through fries; create your own apple, parsnip, carrot and sweet potato chips and fries instead.
• Toast nuts n’ seeds in the oven. Try sweet (honey, cinnamon) or savory (chili powder, sea salt); store in a sealed container and use atop salads, as a snack or in stir-fries and pitas.
• Don’t fear fat. Avocados can be your best buddies. They’re loaded with healthy fats, high in fiber and add a creamy consistency to any meal from oatmeal to salsas.

I always make time for my food and consider the choices as if my life depended on it, because it does! If you do buy packaged foods, read the labels; make sure sugar is far down on the list, that it’s low in saturated fats, and, if a grain food, 100% whole grain is the first ingredient. You won't lose weight fast, that's just not healthy, but try implementing some of these tips in your life and you will feel the change.

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