I wanted to write a little about food and the diet world for a while now.
Before i start on a little ramble, im not telling you what to eat, or what works best I just fancied a little rant.
We love food, the office of national statistics puts the average uk spend at around £80 per week. Ranking as our fourth highest weekly cost, to top this off we spend around £50 eating out at our favourite restaurants and takeaways every week.
As a runner (can i call myself an ultra-runner now?) I eat a terribly large amount of food, in any given day I consume over 2500 calories (my work colleagues can attest to the offensive feast I eat post Ultras), yes that is over what the government states I should have. But bear in mind that when I run I can average a deficit of 1700 calories thatsassuming i run an average of 9-10mph or 9 minutes per mile, which I often do for 2hrs and when I eat I eat sensibly, fruit, nuts, protein (veg based).
This means I can end up eating less than I burn, like most people I eat a general diet, I try to eat well, I made simple changes of lower fat, less processed foods and less takeaways but im only human and sometimes a nice curry or chinese hits the spot.
THE DIET WORD
Now I was thinking recently about the word DIET, its definition is simple what we consume. These days however it has become synonymous with the meaning “DIETING” the latest fad or food craze denationalised to make you buy into a belief that you can shed those pounds quickly.
I’ve never dieted, I find the act of restricting any food a terrible idea. Google search the term and it will present you over 695,000 results. A veritable cornucopia of new and inventive ways to make you lose weight , advice from so-called experts to self-professed fitness gurus all peddling the new magic solution to help you shed weight quickly and make you feel better. The inherent problem with most is that it’s not sustainable longterm or necessary.
I don’t like dieting, for me it seems to hold a dangerous connotations that foods, or some foods are bad. True, some foods are not good for us, an average breakfast from a popular chain restaurant will set you back over a 1200 calories, similar if you chose a burger and then added chips that’s your daily intake gone and lets not get started on the amount of fat and salt held within these to.
But that’s not to say these foods are bad foods, its bad because people eat to much of the wrong thing, once in a while wont do you any serious harm, eating them everyday will and there in lies the main issues, self-regulation and control.
In the 80s everyone was told fat was bad, so all hail the revolution and dietary fat was cut down, but recent studies have shown obesity had increased over this period and the reduction in fat did not make any difference, in fact it appears that the obesity rate increased. The British heart foundation maintains that some fats are bad, yes they do cause hardening of the arteries and also contribute the potential of heart disease but again not in isolation. No one food in isolation determines your health outcomes, let’s be realistic, studies on diet and health are notoriously hard to carry out, given the inability to control lifestyles and diets over a number of years.
As the years have passed, people have become more sedate in their jobs, most of us now spend around 7hrs per day sitting on our butts either at work or at home watching TV, im no exception to this, but I also exercise regularly again no one thing in isolation.
An article I read recently dated 2009, carried out research into dieting, using rats it found that swinging from diets creates fast food junkies (restricting “bad foods)”. In a nutshell restricting certain foods or what your diet sheet/group would demonize as bad food in fact can have a profound psychological effect leading to feelings of anxiety and aversion to what are good foods and instead an irrisistable draw to naughty treats.
When I started out over a year ago running i was 15 stone (roughly), i never ran with the intention of getting slimmer, just to get fitter. I made simple changes to the way i ate, more importantly i looked at portion control and regulation. These days i eat less meat and have a firmer vegetarian diet, i feel better for it, injuries from running are limited and recovery is quicker. That’s not to say my diet is for everyone but it works for me.
The current estimated value of the fitness industry in the UK is £4.7bn, wow what a staggering amount of money that people have paid to be told what they should and should not eat, drink and do. Dont get me wrong any type of physical activity is great and gyms serve a purpose, but being healthier is not rocket science or the domain of those that can afford it.
I like to advocate eating what you like, but you have to exercise in relation to what you eat, want that blueberry muffin then walk it off for 45min, want that chocy bar then walk it off for 40min.
We need to stop demonizing foods, it presents younger generations with the idea that food is the problem, that you can’t enjoy eating, that’s its bad to eat this or you’ll get fat eating that, the assertion that food is ‘bad’ has a negative impact further down the line. Media and so-called experts need to show responsibility for what they advocate, there is no quick fix, no magic food, pill or routine. Want to get fitter and lose weight then do it long-term, make it sustainable and youll be better prepared. Small changes make big impacts in the long term, one less beer, one less takeaway or walk more often, take the kids out to the park and have fun.
Simple advice, do more.