This week I had a thought - people say that dieting has helped them to come off medication, BUT has it helped them learn how to eat more healthily? I look at shakes diets, calorie counting, macro counting, group slimming clubs, and Noom, and give my opinion on whether or not they help people learn how to eat more healthily.
I also tell you about the best lunch yet, and this week I had a real personal win when I went to a wedding reception.
This week's listener question is "why is it easier to eat more healthily in summer?". Great question. There's more to it than you think.
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Please note, this podcast is intended to be general information for entertainment purposes only. Any figures quoted are correct at the time of recording. As always, please seek the support of a registered professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, or if you feel that you are affected by any of the topics discussed.
Intuitive Eating, HAES, Health At Every Size, Body Positivity, Body Confidence, Body Positive, Anti Diet, Non Diet, Diet Culture, Food Freedom, Fat Acceptance, Fat Liberation, Self Care, Weight Loss, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Disordered Eating, Nutritional Therapy, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Cambridge Diet, Cambridge Plan, 121 Diet, Lighter Life, Noom, Coaching, Healing, Health, Wellness, Calorie Counting, Macros
Welcome to the Intuitive Eating And Body Positivity Podcast. I'm Terri, and I'll be talking about all things Intuitive Eating, body positivity and Health At Every Size, and shaking of weight stigma, diet culture and food rules, so that we can all have a better relationship with food and our bodies.
Hello. It's that time of the week again. How has your week been? Has it been good? Mine's been good, but quite an eventful week, as we actually went to a local cafe last week that is renowned for good food and the biggest, best cakes.
So I went there for the first time, got a bit of a lunch with the husband. Just spent some nice time on a day off with him. Went for some food. The food was so good. I had a ploughmans. Now, I wouldn't usually choose the ploughmans on a menu, but I just fancied it so, Intuitive Eating and all that, I went for it. It was so good. It was so, so good. The ham was really, really good. Some nice cheese, some nice pickles, pork pie, really nice pork pie, boiled egg, baguette, sides.
Yeah, I think that was it. Really, really, really good, though. Just what I wanted at that time. Then we had a little walk around the gardens just to walk off the big lunch that we had and went back to the cafe to get the cake to take home, and there was such a range.
There were Kinder Bueno, I want to say brownies, but they're more than brownies, they're really, really deep. They are like brownie consistency. I can't remember what they were called, but that was kinder flavoured. And then there was a chocolate orange slice. There was Biscoff Rocky Road, which is what I had. There was.... what else was there? I can't remember. There must have been 10, 12 of these different cakes to choose from in a row. They were insane. Insane. I had the best one.
It was so rich that, now this is unheard of, I got halfway through it and I had to stop. It was just so much so much chocolate and I love chocolate, so it's it really is unheard of for me to stop halfway through a cake. And I put it down and put it to the side. I was like, that's enough for me, and then imagine my surprise when I looked over later, after watching a film or whatever we watched, and there was this plate with half a rocky right slice on it. I was like, "oh, I forgot about that. I'll eat that now" because I was ready for it. Oh, so, so, so, so good.
And you know what, it's all guilt free because it is, it just is. I'm not going to feel guilty for going out, having a nice lunch with my husband, having some of what I fancy. It really is a treat, actually, and I don't mean a treat as in it was a cheat day, or I'd saved up all week to have this one day out and have whatever I wanted. No, what I mean is that was a treat to go and have that lunch and that cake.
It's not something that we do regularly and I was going to enjoy it. There is no guilt attached to that. That's what food should be. It should be enjoyable and it should be part of memories and it should be something to be enjoyed. Did I say enjoyable? Probably! Anyway, that's how much I think you should enjoy your food.
My big win for the week, though, was that yesterday we went to a wedding reception. That's obviously not the big win, but we went to a wedding reception and it's the first time that I've socialised in quite a long time, because firstly, Covid! Nobody's gone anywhere. We're now in a place where weddings can have more numbers and things are a little bit more relaxed. So that was lovely to be able to go to an actual social event with people just have some downtime.
But there was a part of this that I was a little bit nervous of because I've not been out and had to dress up for a long time, and my body's changed significantly in that time. So all of the dresses and things that I had, which I didn't wear very often anyway, because I didn't feel comfortable in the way they looked on me, no longer fitted anyway. They're just too small. So I had a rummage. There was a dress there that did fit me, and I ordered a couple off the Internet and had those delivered. I didn't like them. So they've gone back in the bag. They're going back to the shop.
But I find this dress in my box of existing dresses and I thought, actually, that's all right. I quite like how that looks. And I made the decision that's what I was going to wear. That is what I was going to wear. I was going to dress how I wanted to dress, regardless of my size.
Historically, I would have been so wracked with how people were going to think of what I looked like. That would be my thought process behind choosing what to wear. Did I like it yes or no, but also what would people think if I wore this? What would they think of the way that I looked? And I wasn't going to do that yesterday? Absolutely not. I was going to wear this dress because I liked it. I feel comfortable in how it looks on me.
I actually felt quite good about how it looked on me. The shape was good. The colour was good. I went with a royal blue and I just liked the dress, and I can't for the life of me remember why I've got it and I've never worn it before. But I was going to wear it and that's that.
Also, I was not going to wear any kind of body sculpting stuff underneath it. No Spanx, no suck it in pants, no all in one thing that goes under a dress to smooth out the lines. You know, the sort of things I'm talking about.
I was not going to wear that. It was too hot to wear something under a dress. I am not going to be that uncomfortable in the heat. And also, I always end up being really uncomfortable, so, you know, when you've got the pants on and you go to the toilet you end up spending ages trying to drag them back up. I don't need that in my life if I'm going to go to the toilet. I just want to go to the toilet and not have to worry about wrestling with my clothes after.
So I didn't I didn't wear anything underneath my dress. I just had my normal underwear on. It was lovely. It was very refreshing. And you know what, nobody commented. I don't think they would anyway, but there were no eyebrows. There were no "oh, look at her" looks. Nothing. I just went, met with friends, had a nice time. That was it. It shouldn't be any more than that, it shouldn't be about the way I look. I was there celebrating friend's wedding. I went, I was myself, we had some drinks, we had some food, and I didn't give too damn about the way I looked. So there you go. That's my that's my little victory for the week.
I'm pleased I did it. I feel good about it. Gives me the confidence now to wear more dresses. It's quite liberating.
So this week, I've been thinking about medication. As I've mentioned before, I've been going through some medical staff and I'm on some medication, and it got me thinking about, not personally for myself, but it got me thinking about medication and how so many diets give you this hope that one day you'll come off your medication because you've lost weight.
So many of the selling points of people that spoke at group classes, in magazines that I bought from slimming clubs, that sort of thing, their experiences quite often include "I was on medication for X amount of years and now I don't take it anymore". And there have been studies done and quoted on diet websites about how when people have done their diet, they are in remission of things like diabetes and no longer need to rely on insulin, blah, blah, blah.
So it's great if they end up coming off their medication. That's a win, right? That's awesome. Nobody really wants to live on medication for the rest of their life if their body can function well without it. That's great. That's really, really good. If people can come off a medication that they're relying on, however. This is what I ended up thinking about.
Does dieting actually improve your eating habits?
Because why have they come off that medication? Here's my logic, here's my thought process. I think these people have come off the medication because they have developed a healthier way of living than they did before. That's not to say that the diet has given them a healthy way of living, but for some, like Slimming World, Weight Watchers, it's introduced some foods like vegetables that they might not have been having before, and therefore they have some healthier aspects to their diet.
However, what are the costs of their diets? What are the costs of the process that has led them to come off their medication? What are the actual costs of that process?
So let's start with the shakes diets. Let's keep brand names out of this. I don't want to be sued. But you know what I'm talking about - those shakes diets that encourage you to have a shake for breakfast and a shake for lunch, and maybe if you're lucky, you'll get a little bit of food later in the day. Maybe we'll let you have one of our branded snack bars in the morning, and if you're really hungry, you can probably have an apple or something.
There are mammoth costs to that lifestyle. And actually, I don't even think that it is the diet itself that has improved their condition to the point where they can come off the medication. So they might have improved that, they might have been able to come off their medication, it's absolutely not the diet itself that is done that.
For starters it hasn't taught you anything about how to manage food. It hasn't taught you about how to have a healthy relationship with food. There might be everything in there nutritionally balanced, because these companies have obviously put a lot of money into creating a product that gives you the whole balance of nutrients that you need, but you don't know what those nutrients are and what you need them for. You don't know how to have a healthy relationship with food because you're not really eating any food.
It doesn't cover the issues that you had around food in your diet before you started that shakes diet. So when you stop that shakes diet you're going to go back to your old patterns of eating, and I'm willing to bet that along with that comes the need for medication again because you haven't been educated in how to have a healthy diet, or to manage your condition through your diet.
Then there's things like macro and calorie counting. Well, that, to me is just blanketing out any feelings that you have. You are not thinking about your body. You're not feeling your body. What you're doing is you're having an allocated amount of calories or an allocated amount of macro's. That's your carbohydrates, your fats, and your proteins each day. And those are usually about calories because X amount of protein is X amount of calories, X amount of carbohydrates is X amount of calories.
You see where I'm going with that. And you feel like you have some control because you are counting, you know, whether you've hit your target or not and that feels like a level of success. You might have been given this programme by somebody who has worked out all your calories for you and your macros for you but again, you haven't learnt anything. You don't know why you're being given that amount of calories or each macro.
And even if you do get told why you're being given that much does that really help you have a better relationship with food? Absolutely not. What it does is it makes you understand how to count things, and how to add them up, and how to realise how many you've got left, or when you've had more than your allocation. You don't know how to have a relationship with food through that process.
You become obsessed with counting, and the weight on the scales, because these plans are always about losing weight. They're not about having a better relationship with food. They are about losing weight because the intention behind calorie counting and the intention behind macro counting is always to make yourself lighter or leaner.
And then let's look at the group slimming clubs. You know, the ones I mean. For me, in this respect, I think this is the worst because at least with the shakes and at least with a calorie and the macro counting you're not expected to have an understanding of how the food is helping you.
When it comes to these groups slimming clubs, they use some kind of pseudo health benefits from food. For example, you'll get replacement products, and by that I mean you don't have your normal yoghurts anymore, you have a brand that you're allowed to eat. It's usually a low fat.
Same with milk. You can have milk, but don't have the full fat one, because that sucks up enough of your allowance that you're trying to save for your treats. So with the milk, they encourage you to have a skimmed milk. Wow, quite honestly, who bloomin like skimmed milk anyway? I am not reducing my milk down to skimmed milk just so that I can have more milk in my tea, or I can have a bit more milk on my cereal. That's ridiculous.
And actually you're losing a lot of the health benefits of the milk when you go down to a skimmed milk. Why not have a milk that's got a higher level of fat in it with more health benefits from that fat and a better satisfaction value? Skimmed milk to me is just water with a drop of milk in it.
And bread. They encourage you to eat a wholemeal bread, for example, which is great. That's a good thing to encourage because it's got fibre in it, or more fibre in it should I say, and some healthy seeds and grains in some of the loaves. But give with one hand and taketh away with the other, because you can have some of this bread, but you can't have very much of it. So then you're encouraged to do stupid stuff like cut the crusts off to make it within an acceptable weight.
And then they encourage you to eat a load of free foods. Some of that free food is vegetables and there are some fruits, and that's great because they've got some great nutrients and things that are really beneficial to your body for you to eat. But when it comes to things like pasta and rice and potatoes, should we be encouraging everybody to eat vast amounts of these foods? In my experience, I ate way more potato, pasta, rice than I would do now because those things were free and filling.
I could eat and was encouraged to eat as much as I wanted. It didn't matter whether I was full or not. That was never discussed. It was just a case of "have these free foods" and then they contradict themselves later down the line anyway, when they say when your weight is plateauing that you should try and restrict some of these things. Try and have not so much potato, try not having as much pasta. Well, are they free or are they not free?
Protein was encouraged, but only in certain foods. So there were certain things that were on the free list, and then there were things that were labelled in the literature with a little P. These are high in protein and you're encouraged to eat those, which is good because protein is satiating. It's filling. It makes you feel satisfied for longer. But all the time, making you feel guilty because you should be eating those and you should not be eating the other things.
In my experience, all this ever led to as an overall package was restricting and bingeing and guilt, and we know that guilt causes bingeing and this whole to-hell-with-it approach.
Now, at no point do these diet clubs ask you how you feel. How does this food make you feel? Does it make you feel full? Does it make you feel satisfied? Does it affect your digestion when you eat some of this free food? Does that agree with you or does it upset your stomach? And if it does upset your stomach, why is that and what can we change to provide something that's a better fit for your body?
How does it affect your mental health? How does it affect your mood? How does this food make you feel? They don't ask those questions, what they do is they give you a way to eat a lot of food so you don't feel like you're missing out on anything. But they don't ask you to consider how you feel when you're eating that food and they don't encourage any kind of Intuitive Eating in your eating.
When planning out your day of food, when you're on these plans, you are very much all consumed by how many of the points system you're allowed to have a day and what free food you put on your plate to make you not hungry. And that's what your day is based around. It's not based around thinking about what do you fancy, what do I feel like eating, what in this moment is going to satisfy me?
None of that. The consultants are not talking about that. They're not trained to talk about that. They're trained to get you the best weight loss with the most food.
So if at the end of the weight loss the people in these clubs are coming off their medication then we're back to that same scenario that I talked about earlier that says there will be aspects of the diet that has improved some aspects of their health.
There will be an increase in vegetable intake, for example, which increases the nutrients and the vitamins, the minerals that your body is now having and using. And that's a good thing because your internal systems function much better when you've got adequate amounts of these things in the diet. But again, it's not teaching you how to have a good relationship with food, and so when this diet stops on comes the weight again because you haven't learnt how to correct those eating habits that you had before, and how to deal with the things that are triggering those eating habits.
And so, yeah, you might have come off some medication while you are losing weight but what's the long term effects of this? I'm thinking that the long term effects is weight gain. That weight rebound and then potentially the need for that medication again.
With that rebound what you actually get is more stress because you give yourself a good kicking mentally for not being able to keep this weight off, for putting all this weight back on, for putting more weight back on.
And it's stressful. You think of all the things that people will be thinking about you when you pass them in the street. You'll be thinking about what your friends and your family might be thinking. You'll be considering what other people's opinions on your weight gain are going to be. And that's stressful, and it's been scientifically proven that the stress and the weight rebound and the weight stigma that is attached to that weight rebound is far, far more damaging to your health than your diet alone.
So although my thoughts were triggered by thinking of my medication, my question that I had in my head this week was, does dieting improve eating habits? And what are the costs of that? No. Plot spoiler. This will come as no surprise, dieting does not improve eating habits.
None of those diets I've talked about will improve eating habits because it doesn't teach you how to eat better.
"Oh, Terri, but what about things like Noom who say that they help you to improve your thoughts around eating habits?"
Mm hmm. I dropped in a company name, didn't I? Well, I couldn't avoid it with this one because we have to talk about it. Noom promises a psychological approach to improving your relationship with food and losing weight at the same time.
It's always about the weight loss, isn't it? But they promise you all this help with thought patterns. And actually, there was somebody on Instagram the other day, I was looking at her posts and she posts that she had asked some questions about people who had been on it and the responses that she shared were quite scary. All of them saying how they felt guilt trapped in their food choices, how there was this traffic light system that labels food good, OK, or bad.
And some were saying that if they ate a food that was in the red category, they would get a message from Noom saying, "We saw you chose red foods. Did you need help at that time to not eat?" Well, what if they really wanted it? What if in that time that was exactly what they needed to satisfy themselves?
Poor show Noom, poor show. So no, even companies like Noom who say they are providing a psychological support to help you to understand your relationship with food, are doing a very bad job of it.
I looked at this with a balanced head on. I really tried to see aspects of these diets that would help improve a relationship with food and eating habits. And quite honestly, the only thing that I could really put a positive to was the fact that these diets encourage vegetables and fruit to be eaten. Not too much fruit though remember! But they encourage vegetables. Big plus. Like that a lot. But outside of that I really couldn't see anything that would say, yes, this will help me improve my eating habits.
So, nope, still on the anti-diet train here, guys. Honestly, I don't think I'm for swaying anymore, and I've been both sides of this fence. I could see it from an insider's point of view, especially with the group session slimming clubs. There really isn't anything more I can come up with. There is a positive for dieting, I'm afraid. Big tick for Intuitive Eating there today, obviously, and I will leave this section with this final thought.
Would you get on an aeroplane that only had five percent chance of hitting the ground safely the other side?
I wouldn't thank you very much. I want to know that my plane is going to get me there and it's going to get me there safely. Well, this is the same statistic in dieting, five percent of people who diet are found to successfully keep that weight off. Most studies show about a two year time frame for these things. There are no studies that show any longer than five years follow up after people stop a diet. So the statistics are only talking about a two year period anyway, so five percent of dieters will keep their weight off for two years after they stop the diet.
Five percent. That means that 95 percent of people who go on a diet will regain their weight and more after they stop that diet. I am living proof of that. I really am. I am in that 95 percent, as are many, many, many other people that I talk to.
So I'll leave you with that little statistic. It's quite scary, isn't it, when you think how much money these companies take office, how much of our lives they swallow up making us obsess about food and counting stuff. Only five percent of people come out the other end with a positive result.
Right, let's do a listener question. I like this one. Today's question is, why is it easier to eat good food and be healthier in summer? What a great question, what a great question. Thank you for that.
OK, first off, the big one is more nutrient dense, what we deem to be healthier food, is more readily available in the summer months. All this fresh, lovely fruit and veg, juicy strawberries and raspberries and melons, and all this really nice fresh veg that is available to us in the summer. Because it's widely grown and we can grow more of it in the UK in the warmer weather, we can get it from abroad quite easily in the summer months. And because we can get it in quite vast quantities, it's relatively inexpensive. So it's easy to get your hands on this stuff in the first place.
And, you know, in the warm weather when it's really hot and, you know, I just fancy something refreshing. Watermelon. How good does that taste on a really hot day? And a fruit salad, a normal salad, just a really nice salad to go alongside a barbecue or something.
Water. We even have more water in summer because we're trying to rehydrate constantly. You try water out of the fridge on a hot summer's day, so refreshing. You try water out the fridge in bleak midwinter, nobody needs that in their life, do they? You're going to have a cup of tea every time.
And the flip side of this is that in winter, you naturally crave what I term hibernation foods. Things that are stodgy and warming. Things like potatoes and stews and pies and all this warming food that's going to fill you up and keep you warm from the inside out. But those things require more effort.
With the summer foods, you can just throw it on a plate, throw it on the barbecue. In the winter, that food takes more effort to get to a place where you can eat it. So the meats, the vegetables, things like fruit, veg takes a lot more cooking to get it to a point where you can eat it. And you can, of course, just throw things in a slow cooker or in a casserole dish in the oven, but overall it is more effort to get that food together than it is in the summer.
And of course, not everybody can cook. Not everybody has the facilities or the knowledge, the know how to put a good dinner together, and so in summer it's easier because you don't need those skills. A lot of the food that you can have in the summer requires little preparation, little cooking and little knowledge. So in the summer, it's easier for people in general.
In summer, it's easier to use leftovers. You can have a salad or you can have some cooked meats or you can have sides and dressings and things, and if you don't eat it all, you wrap it all up and you put it in the fridge. And then the next day, you might cobble together some of that salad and some of the cooked meats and some of the dressings and you're good to go. You do get left overs in winter, but it's more common that people will put together the kind of size of meal that will suit their needs, you won't be putting it in the fridge thinking, oh, great, I'll have some of that tomorrow. You don't open the fridge and think, what can I have, what can I cobble together right now? Stew doesn't have the same feel to it, does it?
And I think generally winter foods just aren't as palatable as summer foods. They're just not as appealing. I speak from my own perspective because I've got a sweet tooth, I like foods that are sweet. I really love a good home comforts meal. I really do. I love a good pie. I love a stew with dumplings on the top. I love mashed potatoes, sausage and mash and gravy, that sort of thing. Love that kind of meal. But if I was going to choose those foods all the sweeter, fresher foods of summer wins.
There is a real psychological aspect in that that I've already talked about, but also research has shown that people who eat in dimmer light linger over their food more, and that can lead to eating more food than you would originally intend to eat. So I'm not saying here that you need to restrict your food or that summer is a way of restricting your food, but the question is, why do people eat more healthily in the summer? Well, if by eating more healthily, that includes eating reasonable portions of food, or not eating past the point of comfort, then eating in dim light will have an effect on that. And in the winter, when it's dark and it's cold, you are going to take more time of your food and you're going to eat more food.
Also, the colour in foods is more appealing in the summer. The reds, the greens, the yellows, the bright, vibrant colours that you get in these foods in summer. They are nature's way of saying, "eat me. I have got loads of good nutrients. I've got a wide range of vitamins and minerals to give you". You don't get that visual appealing look of food in the winter.
And also there's a biological aspect in the summer. Your body is trying to reduce the heat that it generates. You know, on a hot day, you lose your appetite a little bit. That's because your body is starting to tone down the processes that are generating internal heat. So digestion, when you eat food, your body generates an internal heat as it processes that food. So if it reduces your appetite, you don't eat so much, you don't generate an internal heat so much, your body is just that touch cooler.
Clever, huh? Really, really clever, our bodies are so bloody amazing. So, yeah, I hope that answers your question. I hope that gives some kind of explanation as to why it's easier to feel like you're eating more healthily in summer.
Right, I'm done for today. Have a lovely, lovely week. I don't know what I'm going to talk about yet next week, but I'm sure something will spring to mind as the days go on. I kind of take my thoughts from things that happened in the days through the week so, yeah, we'll wait and see what happens and we'll see what I end up talking about. But until then, have a really, really, really lovely week.
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Have a good week. Speak next week. Bye bye.