Dieting doesn’t work! There I said it - although you probably already know it don’t you? Despite this fact, it doesn’t seem to stop people going on diets. The diet industry is worth £2 billion in the UK alone, unfortunately it is not within the interests of the majority of companies in this industry to help you achieve permanent weight loss, but rather to keep you on the yo-yo dieting merry-go-round, ever hopeful that the next fad will be the one that works for you.
When I told my boss I was doing a series of blogs about dieting/weight loss he said, “Go vegan. Eat superfoods. That’s it.” However this wouldn’t make for a very interesting read! So in this blog series I am going to attempt to explain the true causes of weight gain, why dieting really doesn’t work and what we can do to easily achieve our ideal weight and maintain it without ever depriving ourselves again. Sounds too good to be true? Then read on….
Whilst fad diets can be traced back to Ancient Greece, our modern day obsession appeared in the mid 1800’s with the new middle classes of the Victorian Age who, waited on by servants, had blown up in size as a result of little or no exercise and access to all the food they could eat. One of the most famous 19th century methods of weight loss was introduced to the general public by an unassuming gentleman, a carpenter and undertaker by the name of William Banting, following his “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public”. He was actually the father of the modern day low-carbohydrate diet with his name being one of the only three in English history to have entered the language as verbs, with “banting” being used as a synonym for dieting in the UK and USA well into the 1920’s (the other two were Captain Boycott and Louis Pasteur). Subsequent fads included “Fletcherism” in the early 1900’s (chewing each mouthful of food a minimum of 100 times), the “Cigarette Diet” in the 1920’s with one Lucky Strike advert reading “reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”!! The fashion for stick thin, boyish figures for women took hold in the “roaring 20’s” and it was in this decade that counting the number of calories in food really took off, followed by the “Hay Diet” in the 1930’s, the “Cabbage Soup Diet” of the 1960’s, the “Atkins Diet” of the 1970’s and the “Beverly Hills Diet” in the 1980’s with many more leading up to the current day. Currently trending in 2016 are the 5:2 or intermittent fasting diets.
The Skinny On Diets – They Actually Make You Fatter!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the word “diet”, the root coming from the Greek “diaita” which means “manner of living”. However, nowadays when people say they are “going on a diet” this generally means that they’re going to be restricting themselves from a whole host of important food groups including fats and proteins which are essential for vibrant health.
When we temporarily restrict ourselves we can only ever achieve temporary results, so although we may see the desired outcome after a period of time of restriction, as soon as we go back to “normal eating” the pounds pile back on again. Not only this, during a low calorie diet your body isn’t usually being given enough protein to maintain muscle mass so it burns muscles for energy and the subsequent calories taken in through food are more likely to be stored as fat.
Your cells don’t know you are intentionally restricting calories and the body shifts into “primal survival mode” as it perceives itself as starving and malnourished, when this happens we beat ourselves up as having no willpower as we give in to unhealthy cravings, ending up in a worse situation than we were when we started! In addition to this, when the body thinks it is starving it will slow down your metabolic rate to conserve energy, making it even harder to lose weight.
The Dieting Seduction Trap
Generally speaking, the first time we went on a diet it was easy – the pounds just melted away - leading us to think that every time we pile on a few pounds we can just as easily lose it again by going on another diet. This can set the trap for many years of yo-yo dieting, meanwhile our bodies have learned to adapt and will cling on to what we do eat, store it as fat and when we finish dieting our body is rewired to this process as it doesn’t know when it is going to be starved again.
Moreover, dieting is associated with increased food pre-occupation and eating in the absence of hunger, it disconnects you from your innate hunger and satiety cues making it easier to eat when you’re not hungry, leaving you in confusion as to your true biological eating cues.
The Health Shattering Effects of Sugar
“Sugar: It’s the new tobacco. Worse, it’s the secret destroyer.”
Dr Mark Hyman
Eight times more addictive than cocaine - sugar causes opiate and dopamine activity in the reward centres of the brain – its consumption has sky-rocketed in the last few decades and is strongly correlated with the rise in the availability of processed foods. Diet/low fat foods are major culprits – when you remove the fat from these foods it leaves a distinct lack of taste and, believe it or not, this fat is replaced with sugar! A typical low fat yogurt contains five teaspoons of sugar yet people think it will contribute to weight loss due to only containing on average 120 calories, a miniscule amount of the puported “daily recommended allowance”. A typical full fat yoghurt will only contain around half of this amount of natural sugar, with the fat content allowing your blood sugar to remain relatively stable.
Public Health England (PHE) published a study in October 2015 recommending a broad range of measures to reduce the nation’s excessive sugar consumption. It found that children and young people consume 3 times the recommended amount, with adults consuming more than double. Incidentally, the recommended daily amount is 90g or 22 teaspoons, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist leading a UK taskforce looking at sugar says, “The FSA advice is outdated. A limit of 22 teaspoons is way too high.” Most of this is hidden in processed foods and sweetened drinks, even fruit juice contains insane amounts of sugar – a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice contains just as much sugar as a glass of coco cola – on average 35g. When we eat whole fruit the sugar gets sent to the liver slowly, in small amounts which can be metabolised without the liver being overloaded, drinking fruit juice is the equivalent of eating many pieces of fruit in a very short time without the protective fibre. A large part of fruit sugar is “fructose”, the liver is the only organ that can metabolise fructose in meaningful amounts and when it takes in more than it can handle, some of it gets turned into fat - this can lodge in the liver and contribute to fat build-up and insulin resistance - a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes.
Sugar (especially the iniquitous refined white stuff) robs your body of precious minerals, lowers your blood PH, rots your teeth, stresses your nervous system, affects normal hormone function and fires up inflammation – the one thing that every single cancer has in common.
Clinical Nutritionist, Nancy Appleton PHD lists 144 reasons why sugar ruins your health – here are just a few of them from her book, co-authored with G.N. Jacobs, “Suicide by Sugar” :-
- Sugar can suppress your immune system
- Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body
- Sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Sugar can cause gastric and duodenal ulcers
- Sugar can cause arthritis
- Sugar assists the growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)
- Sugar can lead to obesity
- Sugar can make the skin wrinkle by changing the structure of collagen
- Sugar reduces learning capacity
- Sugar can cause gallstones
- Sugar increases the risk of many cancers including; breast, kidney cell, stomach and small intestine
I have included a link to her website at the bottom of this article where you can read the full exhaustive list, all backed up by peer reviewed scientific studies.
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat – Sugar Does!
Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat – our bodies actually need good fats (yes that includes saturated fat), but we certainly don’t suffer from any deficiencies from not eating enough sugar!
The way sugar can sabotage your body and cause fat storage is twofold; excess glucose is the first problem and excess insulin the second. When we eat foods with a high sugar content our liver’s capacity for storage is exceeded and the excess sugar is converted into fatty acid (fat). This is then released back into the bloodstream, taken through your body and deposited wherever you tend to store adipose fat cells – normally the stomach, breasts and hips in women and the stomach in men. Even worse, once these regions are full of adipose tissue the fatty acids start to spill over into your major organs which reduces organ ability, raises blood pressure, decreases metabolism and compromises the immune system.
Excess insulin is released at high levels whenever you consume “simple” carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta or rice which all turn into sugar in the blood (although more complex carbohydrates don’t fare much better). When our insulin levels are spiked the body’s fat burning process is shut down so that the sugar that has just been ingested can be immediately used for energy. It is transported to our muscles and unless we are involved in some seriously high impact sports on a daily basis, once our muscles energy stores are full, the excess sugars are converted into fat and again stored as adipose fat on our waistline.
So How Do I Control My Sugar Cravings?
Your daily sugar craving may have more to do with biochemistry than lack of willpower or desire. Gut health is crucial to overall good health - home to bacteria, yeasts, cells that line the intestinal wall and cells that make up the immune system - when our inner ecology is out of balance this can result in Candida overgrowth. When we eat sugar we are literally feeding the Candida yeast causing the overgrowth which can in turn take over your appetite – and Candida has a voracious appetite for sugar. This can lead to a vicious cycle of binging on sugar to keep up with the Candida’s demands thus feeding more overgrowth resulting in more overgrowth which in turn demands even more sugar – in other words, the Candida is craving the sugar, not you per se.
Fortunately, Candida overgrowth is relatively easy to rectify. Overgrowth can be a result of something as simple as a course of antibiotics which decimates the beneficial bacteria in our gut which would normally keep the Candida in check. Our Candida Care Tea Blend has been specifically designed to repress Candida and significantly reduce sugar cravings. Containing the powerful herb Pau D’Arco which has been traditionally used for centuries to suppress fungal overgrowth, science is now validating these anecdotal observations with the “Brazilian Journal of Biology” publishing a study in 2010 which found that the Pau D’Arco herb of the species “Tabebuia Avellanedae” does indeed exert an inhibitory effect on yeasts. Also in this blend are other well-known Candida cleansing herbs; peppermint, marigold and marshmallow – it is recommended to build up slowly with this tea to avoid Candida die-off symptoms. Pau D’Arco tea and tincture are also powerful weapons to have in your arsenal for combatting yeast overgrowth.
If you would like to address any Candida overgrowth problems you might have, we have put together a discounted "Sugar Busting Bundle" for our readers, see the link at the end of this article.
Probiotics containing the strain saccharomyces boulardii have been clinically proven to reduce levels of Candida and adding fermented vegetables into your diet will go a long way to improve your gut health.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
We have the illustrious US President Richard Nixon to thank for this dietary disaster. In 1971, facing re-election and with the Vietnam War still raging, the soaring cost of food was also a big issue with voters. With the help of “agriculture expert” Eric Butz, a radical plan was formed whereby farmers were pushed into a new level of industrial scale farming with the focus on one crop in particular – corn. Cattle became fatter, burgers became bigger and fries became fattier fried in cheap corn oil, but the worst product to emerge was, without doubt, High Fructose Corn Syrup (known as Glucose-Fructose Syrup in the UK). In the 70’s the process was discovered to harness it for mass production and it was pumped into every conceivable food – pizzas, meat – it added that just baked sheen on bread and cakes, made everything sweeter and extended shelf life from days to years.
The health destroying effects of this innocuous syrup are hard to overstate. Numerous studies on rats show that it leads to obesity, liver disease and a whole host of other chronic diseases. It also interferes with the normal satisfaction hormone “leptin” which tells our bodies when we have had enough to eat, sometimes switching it off altogether. Not only does this cause overeating because we do not know when we are full, leptin resistance is also very effective at blocking the burning of fat.
Luckily, in the UK we haven’t been exposed to nearly as much HFCS as our Trans-Atlantic cousins. However, a cursory glance through the ingredients of some of our most popular brands show that some do indeed contain this poisonous compound. Cadbury’s Mini Rolls, McVities Jaffa Cakes, Chocolate Digestives, Hobnobs and, shockingly, some “Weight Watchers” ready meals and yoghurts all contain HFCS – become an avid label reader and avoid this stuff like the plague!
If you are still craving sugar after you have addressed any yeast overgrowth and cut out HFCS you may have a sugar addiction. Again, this is not because you are weak willed or a glutton, it is because you are addicted to fructose – one of the major components of sugar which has been hiding in our food supply for many years.
Stevia – The Natural Sweetener With Proven Health Benefits!
100% natural and with zero calories, if you are looking for a perfect sugar replacement then Stevia is the answer. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar with no after taste and can be used in baking as well as an alternative sweetener for drinks.
Traditional uses for Stevia include; stimulating alertness and digestion, facilitating digestion and gastro-intestinal functions, regulating blood glucose levels and nourishing the liver, pancreas and spleen. Scientific studies show that it appears to improve the function of the hormone “insulin” which helps to lower blood sugar levels and has been studied in diabetic patients with impressive results. Furthermore, animal studies have shown that the active compounds in Stevia have led to numerous health benefits including the reduction of oxidised LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type).
For more information on the “King of the Sweeteners”, check out our Natural Health Guide.
Nutrition – The Only True Craving
There are certain nutrients that our bodies cannot do without, vitamins and minerals are absolutely crucial to keeping the systems of the body running smoothly. Are you craving chocolate? You are probably deficient in magnesium – raw cacao is extremely high in magnesium, your body in its infinite wisdom is actually craving what it needs! Great news, your chocolate cravings have a reason, unfortunately, the kind of chocolate you buy from sweet shops and supermarkets bears only a very passing resemblance to the real thing. So you buy the chocolate, eat it and find that you are still craving more. Why? Because store bought chocolate contains very little or virtually no magnesium at all …. So you eat another bar of chocolate as your body’s magnesium craving hasn’t been addressed yet, but your body will respond to all the sugar in processed chocolate making your blood sugar go crazy and massively spike leading to a huge sugar crash a couple of hours later which can leave you feeling drained, tired and craving another sugar hit. And so you are caught in a vicious circle.
The same can be said for so many other foods that we crave – our bodies are intelligent – unfortunately with junk food masquerading as real food and packed full of nasty chemicals is it any wonder our bodies become confused? Add this to the criminal lack of nutrition in many foods and we have a recipe for obesity, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and a myriad of other health problems. Could this be why we supposedly have the best medical care in our evolutionary history yet the sickest, most obese population ever known?
Rewire Your Brain and Watch the Weight Drop Off
By cutting out sugar, chemical additives and processed foods and replacing them with nutritionally dense wholefoods we will see our unhealthy cravings melt away along with any excess weight. It is also absolutely crucial to change our relationship with food – it is not the enemy, rather the sustainer of life and if our nutritional needs are met, we will no longer hunger for the junk that poses as food.
It can be tough living in this system where profit and greed take precedence over the health of the population. Unfortunately, big food companies don’t care whether their food makes us obese and damages our health – in fact the more addictive chemicals they can get away with adding thus making us crave their particular food, the better it is for their pockets. We are surrounded by chains of restaurants and cafes all pushing their own particular brand of poison and with our busy lives this easy fix can be difficult to resist. All it takes is a little advance planning and a conscientious approach to food and it will become easier and easier not to succumb to the clever marketing strategies of these fast food outlets.
Reclaim your body, your health and Ditch That Diet!
Coming up next in this blog series we'll be busting fat myths, looking at how to normalise your metabolic rate with a list of 5 "metabolism death" foods, optimise nutrient absorption and why superfoods and detox can play an important part in achieving your ideal weight and staying there.
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