Forget everything you know about healthy eating…

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Forget everything you know about healthy eating…

This topic contains 21 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Stef. 10 years, 4 months ago.

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  • Steak is not necessarily bad for you. ‘Low fat’ is not always good. So just what should we eat if we want a healthy diet?

    Lucy Cavendish By Lucy Cavendish5:47PM BST 26 Oct 2013CommentsComments

    Two years ago, I went to see Dr Pierre Dukan – of the Dukan Diet fame – at his plush office on the Champs-Élysées. He was keen to discuss the latest thinking about his high-protein weight-loss programme, which hundreds of thousands of people across the world had taken up.
    There were naysayers, of course, as there had been with the Atkins, the protein-heavy diet that predated Dukan’s. He told me that, as a source of protein and energy, red meat had been unfairly demonised. “It’s a myth that red meat is bad for you,” he said. Indeed, he said, if you did just one thing to lose weight, eat steak – and as much as you like.
    At the time, the world was going “low-fat” and “free-from” mad, so a protein-rich diet seemed sacrilegious. Shoppers hell-bent on following a “healthy” lifestyle were buying “free-from” products from which gluten, fat and – in some cases – taste had been annihilated.

    Fast forward two years and I am talking to Dr Michael Mosley, the doctor-turned-TV science presenter, about his Fast Diet. The premise is that the dieter eats whatever they like for five days, and then drastically restricts calorie intake for two. I told him I had found the 5:2 regime hard to stick to because the 500-calorie limit on fasting days seemed so restrictive. “Then try eating only protein on diet days instead,” he said, adding: “Atkins was on to something.” I nearly fainted in shock.

    This got me thinking. We think we know what’s good to eat. We know we need to cut down on dairy, sugar, salt, fats. We are often swayed by the endless fads of new diets that encourage us to eat according to our blood type or like a caveman or whatever. We try the best we can to be “healthy”.
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    Everyone knows the real evil is processed food. But what if it’s not just sausages, frozen pizzas and salami that are bad for you? What if those “low-fat”, “dairy-free” and “gluten-free” ranges – which were once confined to health-food stores but are taking up more supermarket shelf space than ever – aren’t as good for us as we think they are? Could it be that foods we think of as unhealthy are, in fact, perfectly fine, and that those sold to us as healthy are, in reality, far from it?

    “We are deluded as to what is healthy and what isn’t,” agrees Telegraph food writer Xanthe Clay, “because what we think is good for us – and is marketed that way – isn’t necessarily that great.

    “The biggest con is ‘low-fat’. Take low-fat frozen yogurt: it’s loaded with sugar to compensate for the loss of what manufacturers call ‘mouth-feel’. You’ll get a sugar buzz, then a crash. I think we should be asking ourselves, if a product is ‘free from’ something, what has it been replaced with?”
    For years, the food industry has been creating and marketing ranges that are low in fat – but there has been a steep learning curve. After the earliest diet products had their natural fat removed, the customer realised how awful they tasted, so the manufacturers added sugar and starch to make them more palatable. Yet consumers were still sold the message that “low‑fat” equals low body fat.

    But it is not just “free-from” products that are the problem. “Even supermarket fruit is being bred to be sweeter and sweeter,” says Clay. “Do you remember when we were kids and grapefruit was sour? These days, fruit needs to be consumed with care.”

    Last week, another food myth was put under scrutiny as cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra raised a question about whether the risk from saturated fat, in foods such as butter, cakes and fatty meat, is being overstated. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr Malhotra said there was too much focus on fat, with other factors such as the sugar content of food often overlooked. This echoed the Government’s “responsibility pledge”, also announced last week, in which companies signed up to cut saturated fat in some of their products (Kit-Kats and Oreos, for instance) – yet, as critics pointed out, the sugar levels in them would remain exactly the same.

    Saturated fat has long been assumed to be the biggest contributor to heart diseases, but it is in fact rich in vitamins A and D, calcium and phosphorous, which can lower blood pressure, said Dr Malhotra. Millions of people who take statins every day might do as well to regulate their diet.
    He concluded that the food industry has compensated for lowering saturated fat levels in food by replacing it with sugar, which also contributes to heart disease and is highly addictive – and that it is time to “bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease”.
    Well, maybe it is.

    Can it be true that we can actually rejoice in eating our bloody steak while laughing at the faddy diet industry? Have we all been avoiding saturated fats for no good reason?

    Dr Mosley says Dr Malhotra has a point. “Butter was demonised because of dodgy studies done in the Seventies,” he says. “Problems come when you add stuff to food that was not there in its natural state. When the manufacturers took out fat, they added sugar. When they turned unsaturated fat [ie, sunflower oil] into a solid margarine, they introduced trans fats.” These artificial fats – which are used to increase shelf life and, until recently, were found in thousands of processed foods, from biscuits and cakes to pastries, crisps and luncheon meats – are now held up as the real villain.

    So is sticking to a diet free from unprocessed foodstuffs the solution? Not entirely, given how many “natural” products have had their fair share of bad press. Former health minister Edwina Currie prompted a consumer boycott of fresh eggs when, in 1988, she suggested that most of Britain’s egg production was infected with salmonella. And home‑grown beef was shunned for years in the panic over mad cow disease.

    I pride myself on how healthily my family eats. With wheat and gluten vilified in recent years, I have, in the past, cut both food groups from our household diet – and it has cost me a small fortune. As Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, revealed in his autobiography, Management in 10 Words, launching a gluten-free range was one of the best things he ever did: if one person in the family is gluten-intolerant (or thinks they are), the weekly food shopping can be supplemented with additional (and more expensive) products from the “free-from” ranges.

    Food nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche warns against thinking that gluten-free products are inherently healthy. “Many naturally gluten-free foodstuffs, such as quinoa [a protein-rich seed that can be served like couscous], are far more suited to a ‘free-from’ way of life than products manufactured for that purpose.”
    The implications of all of this may be as tough to swallow for the food industry as for the consumer. But going back to real, rather than processed, food is the best thing we can do. As a rule of thumb food should be recognisable as something that grows naturally in a field, on a farm or in an orchard, before it’s packaged up and sold – no processing necessary.

    ★Or, as Dr Mosley puts it: “If your grandmother wouldn’t recognise it, think twice about eating it.”★

    “Steak is not necessarily bad for you. ”

    Let’s be clear.

    Eating animal flesh, in this day, is never good to consume by the individual, community, and society.

    For health and ecological reasons, meat consumption is the wrong direction.

    Changing that direction will never happen, but the truth and facts have been established by many.

    It’s up to each of us to develop that individual responsibility.

    Or, as many will, go ahead and eat Bambi, and get Bambi’s revenge.

    Rocky- we are all human and not all are designed to be vegetarian. Just biologically, not even talking about the spirit. When people are ready, they will get there. Chill.

    “When people are ready, they will get there. Chill.”

    Glad that this is of concern to you also.

    And yes, it should be a somber, chilling thought.

    USA, Dr. Malhotra is the one I mentioned in a previous post on this subject, although In no detail at all as you have. The truth is even as butter etc was being vilified in the 70’s, a still small voice of calm was being ignored, saying that at least butter is a natural substance. I wholeheartedly agree that natural is best, we can only be sure by scrutinising the packaging on everything we buy. How many people have the time, inclination or energy to do that? Do we simply have to trust our own instincts? Truth is we cannot be certain what has or hasn’t been done to, added to or otherwise interfered with the food we buy. Also, we do actually need some fat in our diets as some vitamins etc are only fat soluble, and as is pointed out, fat reduction is replaced by other things to give flavour. Ahhhh!

    Rocky, I was a veggie for a few years. Not because I didn’t like meat or even because I had a moral objection to eating it, but because, as a young woman, I had allowed myself to be brainwashed into believing I was doing wrong eating it. I gradually allowed meat back into my diet, because I missed it. I now eat a small amount of meat, don’t think you should have it every day. I eat fish and veg because I enjoy them. Each to their own, really. Don”t think the world will ever ditch meat, do you?

    @ toms mantis
    “Each to their own, really. Don”t think the world will ever ditch meat, do you?”

    Fundamentally, all of us are omnivores. We can eat anything. In richer countries of plenty, we eat for entertainment. Nourishment is secondary, as we can attest by the habits that we have developed.

    Going without eating, fasting, is discouraged by the marketing messages that we constantly receive. Fasting becomes very difficult in the company of others, as many others have posted.

    The marketing messages that we receive are eat, eat often, eat a lot, eat anything, eat to be entertained, eat without concern.

    As fasters, we have learned differently and are changing our behaviors. Our health is improving.

    I don’t think the world will accept fasting as we have embraced it.

    I don’t think the world will stop eating food as entertainment and embrace it as nourishment.

    I don’t think the people in the world will stop being omnivores and consume carelessly.

    It’s who we are.

    Dear USA

    quote:”The implications of all of this may be as tough to swallow for the food industry as for the consumer. But going back to real, rather than processed, food is the best thing we can do. As a rule of thumb food should be recognisable as something that grows naturally in a field, on a farm or in an orchard, before it’s packaged up and sold – no processing necessary.”

    I couldn’t agree more, with everything you wrote and such a well written post….thank you.

    Rocky, how well put. I think that fasting has taught me to appreciate food more for what it is. When we have the family round we almost always have food, as this is the way mothers have been conditioned to show their love for their family. If we have visitors the same applies to show we welcome them. Food represents so much more than just sustenance, but this isn’t a new thing. It could be too ingrained to change this behaviour. Even though I have learned to treat food differently for myself and for OH, I still feed others who call to my home. Fasting tomorrow, with yoghurt and fruit for breakfast and maybe soup or fish and veg for tea.

    USA, hope you’re doing well.


    thanks but did not write it i always put the author who was lucy

    toms mantis

    getting there 🙁

    I have just come back from an assessment at my Gym where the trainer told me that the Fast Diet is unhealthy as one develops deficiencies in amino acids and vitamins. I have found it the most wonderful way to lose weight, I’ve lost over 10 kilos. He said he was speaking as a Nutritionist. I would be interested to hear reactions to this statement.

    “deficiencies in amino acids and vitamins. ”

    So just take some multiple vitamins.

    I do.

    And his evidence was?

    Honeybland, I have been a member in quite a few different gyms over the last 20 years and all of the trainers had their very individual approaches to losing weight. Quite a few of them wanted to sell me supplements. Also they wanted me to keep on booking them to get/ stay fit. If I am losing weight on my own there is no need for booking them is there? A lot of them are also ignorant to what is going on.

    Did you ask him whether he knew about this diet and whether he had done some research?

    Anyhow I would not take it too seriously and keep on doing what is good for you!


    Thank you to everyone who replied, I am not going to be deflected from the diet. He also hated the word diet and wanted me to eat five small meals everyday. not my idea of fun. I have ordered some Vits and minerals and will carry on the Fast Diet, for ever probably to keep the weight off. First time in my life I have been a size 12, English!!

    Good on you!

    Five small meals is NOT a good idea, it contributes to insulin resistance!

    Good for you Honeybland

    There are too many people too ready to tell you that they are right and others are wrong.

    On this forum, and others, I have read that I should…. eat the Paleo way; be a vegetarian; follow the Atkins/Dukan/Cabbage Soup/Grapefruit/Banana/etc etc diet; not eat after 6pm/7pm/8pm; not eat less than 1500/1800/2000 cals per day; eat fruit; not eat too much fruit; eat one meal/day; eat 5 meals/day; exercise for 1 hour every day; only exercise in short bursts (HIIT). The list is endless.

    Losing weight is not a ‘one size fits all’ – we need to find what works for us as individuals. We should listen to what works for others and possibly adapt it to suit ourselves.

    Sometimes, when what we are doing appears to stop working, we need to regroup, as I did recently after reaching a plateau, and try something else to get our weight loss started again. But ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and if something is working, keep on keeping on.

    Sorry Rocky – to each their own as I said. I do not believe that eating animal flesh is not the right thing. If this had been the case then there would be no human race as our ancestors only had meat , and a few berries, millenia ago.

    Having said that, I do not question or criticise your right to be vegetarian. It is YOUR choice but it doesn’t mean that vegetarianism is right and being an omnivore and enjoying meat is wrong.

    I do agree with you about marketing….fasting will never win support from the food purveyors.

    It would be a strange world if we all agreed on everything but a more peaceful one if we could live and let live.

    How do you know when someone’s vegetarian?

    Don’t worry they’ll tell you!!!

    My son told me that joke, very funny and very true



    There is always some so-called expert laying down the law about diet, stating that this and that is bad, yadayada. The pontificators are up there with the patronisers and are just as big a pain in the arse.

    One of the main selling points of the Fast Diet for me was Dr Michael Mosley’s relaxed “whatever works for you” approach, which has also been taken up by most posters to the forum.

    I so agree with Sylvestra. If something works for you why change it? All those eat this or that diets never convinced me. My beloved late father used to say thirty plus years ago, if you want to loose weight, just eat less and this is what we are doing with this way of life.
    Put less into your body over the duration of a week than you need and you should drop weight. Pretty logic to me.

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