In the last 10 years, a theory that had somehow held up unsupported for nearly half a century has been rejected by several comprehensive evidence reviews, even as it staggers on, zombie-like, in our dietary guidelines and medical advice.
On 12th April (10am to 4pm), I’m bringing Eat for Better Business to the Mintworks, Kendal for a Cumbria Chamber of Commerce event.
It’s an interactive day focused on busting many currently fashionable food myths to help you feel great and work at the top of your game. For quality work you need to be at your best without suffering any afternoon slump or fuzzy concentration. That means putting the right things in your body. You wouldn’t try to run your computer on gas or your car on jet fuel, but with confusing messages everywhere it’s hard to know what to eat for the best. By the end of the workshop, delegates will:
recognise the importance of diet
have identified the impact on work
discover better breakfasts and lunches
understand why we eat and what we need
explore what’s hidden in food
know what to eat for brain power
appreciate the importance of meal breaks
have defined a personal goal.
The delegate rate for this full day workshop is £65 +VAT Chamber and Made in Cumbria members / £120 +VAT non-members – to book your place(s) please – BOOK HERE
Should you have any questions regarding the above training event, please do not hesitate to contact me or Catherynn Dunstan from Cumbria Chambercatherynn@cumbriachamber.co.uk.
If you want to weigh less, you’ll notice that encouragement to go on a diet can be found everywhere – TV, magazines, banners, endless adverts for food products. Here’s a reminder of why dieting is only a good idea if you’re intent on eventually weighing more after a short-term loss.
The people who say, “Eat less, exercise more” will tell you diets must work because of the law of thermodynamics. Energy in equals energy out. As a scientist I know the law is true and very useful for engines in a stable state. As a nutrition coach I know that it’s not useful as an approach to weight loss. Your body is not an engine in a stable state, it’s wonderfully responsive and designed to keep you alive in times of food shortage. It will hang onto all the fat it can, but break down lean tissue and shut down your metabolism to eke out the little food it’s getting. Have you ever heard that a pound of fat contains about 3500kCal, so you can lose a pound of fat a week by reducing your calorie intake by 500 kCal a day? No. When you restrict your energy intake you end up with less energy. That doesn’t feel good.
Way back in 1917, an experiment showed that calorie controlled diets have this weight loss / weight gain effect. It isn’t your fault – the diet does it. Later experiments confirmed the result and the diet industry has been cashing in on the cycle ever since. Deprivation will almost always (98%) lead to you weighing more in the long term. Jon Gabriel was on the dieting roller coaster gaining more each time until he reached almost 30st and realised he had try something different. He decided to concentrate on nourishing his body and lost nearly 16st without dieting. You can read his story here. Now he’s one of the world’s nutrition heros. Check out this delicious ‘pizza’.
Perhaps it’s because of my professional interest, perhaps it’s because I love food, but I tend to notice the things (good and bad) that people eat on TV. I’m not thinking of cookery programmes which, curiously, I don’t watch. I’m thinking of people eating food incidental to the main theme. Take Gogglebox where families sit in front the TV scoffing biscuits, crisps and other processed, health-robbing snacks and drinks.
Then there’s The Big Bang Theory where an American guy with a brain the size of a planet tucks into takeaways most nights and whose standard order when eating out is a burger washed down with a famous fizzy beverage. He claims to know everything; doesn’t he realise how bad for him all this is?
My favourite in Inspector Montalbano. This Italian detective series is full of grand buildings, fast cars, beautiful scenery and fabulous food. We see the hero relishing dishes at restaurants, enjoying what his housekeeper makes and cooking for himself. He loves to eat and won’t hold a conversation when there’s food on the table. His eyes roll with frustration if the telephone rings when he’s just sat down. He totally celebrates the delights of good food.
Between the programmes come adverts. Of the edible products being promoted, I would advise against eating all but a tiny percentage. The pictures look wonderful – they know we eat with our eyes. To convince you of their natural goodness, they conveniently skip over the gulf between the healthy delicious dish you would enjoy if you made it yourself using fresh ingredients, and their finished product.
Dr Mercola has done a handy table of the characteristics of real food vs processed food products. If you want to be shocked to your core by what happens to processed food, read Joanna Blythman’s Swallow This.
I recently went to Norway on holiday, brilliantly arranged by the lovely people at Cockermouth Travel. As well as the breathtaking beauty of the place, I was struck by the slim, healthy build of the population and the fabulous food! Game stew was a highlight plus lots of fresh fish (they love their herrings) and vegetables. (OK there were fast food places for tourists in the town centre; you’ll find that everywhere in the world nowadays.)
Breakfasts were a feast of cold meats, cheeses, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and yoghurt. That’s a high nutrient breakfast to fuel the national pastime of walking up mountains, come rain or shine. Over here continental breakfast has been diminished to coffee and a croissant – not satisfying, not healthy and not continental.
And more breakfast!
Going on holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect with real food. You might go to more exotic places that I do. Perhaps you’ve sampled the delights of young coconuts or fresh bananas which I’m told are divine.
It’s a shame we emulate the Americans more than Europeans. We eat more processed food than any other European country. We also have the fattest population plus the resultant deteriorating health. The French and Italians love their food and you can enjoy locally grown produce, artisan breads, grass-fed meat and amazing cheeses. Food is a high priority for them. They spend money on good ingredients and take time cooking and eating. Meals are not rushed or gulped down alone in front of a TV or computer. There’s a strong social element with lots of talk and laughter round the table. Enjoy it while you’re away and keep it up when you come back.
Top tip – make good food culture a holiday souvenir to bring back home.
What good fortune for men in power that people do not think.
The ‘men in power’ these days include those who profit from the processed food industry. Joanna Blythman has been undercover in the food industry to find out how true this is. If we really knew what was in all the artificial food we’re eating and the damage it is doing to our health, we’d stop and go back to cooking from scratch.
There’s a management maxim that states, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’ Our brains love to measure and compare. It works for business and it works in our personal lives too.
It’s human nature to want to improve. Knowledge is power. If you know how much you do, you’ll want to do more.
For exercise there are tools like pedometers and fitness aps that measure your activity levels. Ask anyone with a pedometer how much they walk and they’ll tell you it’s more since they got one!
I’ve been keeping training records for many years using a chart I developed when I was first selected to represent Great Britain in archery – see my book Succeed in Sport to develop your own chart. Colouring in the chart lets me see immediately the training I’ve been doing.
Use a measurement method that appeals to you. Gold starsare great for kids – and for adults too; a client of mine has been successfully using stars. Some people like tables of numbers. I coached a man once who drew a graph when he decided to stop smoking. His motivator was the cumulative money he saved and it went up and up!
For eating well, how about giving yourself credit each time you snack on nuts, have a drink of water, eat some vegetables or cook unprocessed meat / fish. Be observant, catch yourself doing something right and measure only what’s good. Let your natural motivation increase it. By building up the amount of nutrient-rich natural foods you eat, bad foods will automatically get squeezed out.
Celebrate and reward yourself for your progress, perhaps with a relaxing day somewhere beautiful.
I was heartbroken to watch a four year old girl having 8 rotten teeth surgically removed on Channel 4’s Junk Food Kids – Who’s to Blame? Also featured were a boy with fatty liver disease and an obese 13y old girl whose parents wanted her to have gastric band surgery in preference to improving the family’s diet. For all of these, typical fare at home was ready meals, takeaways,jacket potatoes with baked beans, piles of pasta, pizza, crisps, chocolate and sweet drinks – all guaranteed to pile weight on and rot teeth. The social media backlash accused parents of child abuse for letting their kids eat so badly but the parents were at their wits end. To them processed, sugary diets were normal and they didn’t know what to do to make them better.
Nutrition experts have campaigned many times for governmental control on sugar use by food and drink manufacturers. The government declined arguing that consumers can choose. Can they really? Manufacturers spend huge sums on advertising – and it works. Junk food is cheap, easy, quick and everyone eats it don’t they? Parents are left with a battle on their hands, parental discipline isn’t fashionable and a third of our children are overweight, many with bad teeth, both of which are entirely preventable.
What can we do? It seems the government isn’t going to help us and the manufacturers won’t so we need to support each other in raising awareness so that drinking water and eating real food become normal again. A dentist near where I live has created a Sugar Shock poster showing the amount of sugar in different drinks. It’s brilliant! I had no idea that flavoured milk is worst of all. A local cafe has a lovely Michael Pollen quote on their wall ‘don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food’. What can you do to help spread the message?
Top tip – for the sake of the children, lets help get each other back into real food