menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 64: Diets Don’t Work

on August 9, 2013

Last night on TV I watched an interesting documentary called The Men Who Made Us Thin. It was about the diet industry, how and why it started and why diets don’t work (for the majority of us in the long term). It made fascinating viewing.

starvation diet

The diet industry was essentially created in the US in the 1940’s as a result of the actions of one man: the chief statistician of the world’s biggest insurance company, MetLife. He looked at the age of death and the weight of MetLife’s 4 million policy holders and noticed that overweight people died earlier. He then went on to create charts of ideal body weight which were even embraced by the medical profession. Overnight, these charts deemed that about half the American population were overweight and so, a nation’s obsession with dieting was born.

The programme went on to analyse statistics of how many dieters managed to lose weight and crucially how many of those had kept the weight off 5 years later. The success rate, measured on these terms is pitifully small (around 15%) and that is what keeps the diet industry merry-go-round turning. It is one of the few industries, in whose interest it is, that the product effectively fails!

fad diet

So what is the answer? Well, crash diets and faddy diets are definitely not the way forward. Even if weight is lost by these methods, it will almost certainly be put back on once ‘normal’ eating patterns return and many people actually end up weighing more than they did before they started!

healthy eating

The problem with most diets is that they involve a short term change in habits (which may or may not be successful in losing weight) and then most people go back to their old eating habits (which made them put on weight in the first place) and wonder why the weight piles back on. And so the cycle repeats itself.

The consensus is that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your eating habits permanently. Instead of focussing on weight, focus on eating natural healthy food and becoming fitter and weight loss will follow. It’s not rocket science, but eating moderate helpings of healthy food is not always easy in today’s fast paced world of instant ready meals, sugar and fat laden snacks and processed food. Not only are these things readily available but they are constantly promoted and advertised and they can be as addictive as cocaine (see Day 59 post on Sugar).

Each of us needs to develop a new arsenal of healthy and easy meals and recipes that fit into our lifestyle. Ones that rely on fresh vegetables, lean protein and ‘good’ poly & mono unsaturated fats… that are simple to prepare… with readily available ingredients. Without this essential ‘food toolkit’ we cannot hope to stay off the diet bandwagon.

Once I reach my target weight I hope I will continue to eat the same food that I have been eating over the last 64 days. I will be able to relax the rules a little, introduce some carbs again perhaps and treat myself to the occasional dessert but in order to keep the weight off I must say goodbye to my old eating habits.

Day 64: Food Diary

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with ready made 3 bean salad, feta cheese, pine nuts and green leaves

Dinner: Pork & Apple sausage with spring cabbage

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, menopause cake with tahini – see snack recipe page

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