If you are reading this, chances are you are one of the many Britons that have already had one or two attempts at dieting. Truth be told, we’ve all been there.
From shifting those last few pounds to dropping that magic half a stone, we are a nation of serial dieters. In fact, two-thirds of us are permanently on a diet.
As a registered nutritional therapist, I see a fair share of individuals wanting to lose weight and have even been there myself (yup, you are reading that last bit correctly, even as a professional I’m not immune).
This blog focuses on the one “rule” that has worked for a large number of my clients and myself to avoid dieting and the good news is it’s not a magic potion or an unaffordable diet programme.
If you read the first bit thoroughly, you may be wondering why I want to share this diet dodging trick with you, after all, I’m a nutritional therapist so I should be making big money from slimming you all down, right? Luckily, this is wrong. As a registered nutritional therapist, I help individuals that genuinely need to work on their health. From digestive issues to hormone health and some more complex conditions, nutritional therapy can be used to assist with the journey of returning to feeling your best. You can read more about it here.
Weight loss lets just say isn’t worth forking out such a high fee for.
In my opinion, dieting isn’t healthy.
Yes the majority of us could do with a bit less weight around the middle but the constant yoyo-ing and food-related denial/ deprivation rarely leaves us feeling on top of our game. And that’s assuming that those lbs lost stay off.
Given that the UK diet industry is worth over £2 billion and we have approximately 65 million people in the country, each of us is spending a fair amount on diet “stuff”.
Yet with one easy switch, the loss of lbs won’t translate to fewer £££s.
The more I assess various diets, the more I realise that they are just lesser or greater variations of this one rule, with a few extreme exceptions of course.
Clean eating, paleo, vegan, Dukan, the zone and even the low-carb movement all share one common theme.
Luckily you won’t need a new book/ count calories/ invest in products or diet guidelines.
The solution that helped my clients and I is simple: prioritise whole foods.
Our modern dietary habits have become too focused on processed as opposed to whole foods, leaving us without many essential nutrients. Whole foods are the very things that supply these missing vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Nutrients are kind of a big deal for overall health not just for weight loss so you may notice a few additional positive side effects such as more energy.
The evidence isn’t just anecdotal when it comes to eating this way either. The Blue Zones project which assesses populations around the world that live the longest, for example, noted a predominantly whole food based diet in these healthy groups.
EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), a large study which has been following over half a million people across 23 European countries since 1993 also backs up this notion, highlighting better health, a lower BMI and lower rates of annual weight gain in those that eat a whole food based diet.
There is another good reason: our bodies don’t derive calories from whole foods the same way as we do from processed foods.
As an example, the average 100g bar of milk chocolate has a similar calorie content to 100g of almonds, both clocking up in the region of 600 calories. Yet when it comes to the almonds we only absorb give or take 200 calories. Needless to say, we get the full 600 calorie hit from the chocolate.
Whole foods, especially plant-based ones, aren’t that easy to digest and more often than not contain a good dose of fibre too. Couple this with the fact that we probably don’t chew foods well enough and you can see how calorie absorption would be more difficult.
The chocolate, on the other hand, is a doddle since most of the “digestion” has already been done for us during processing. The cocoa beans have been crushed up, the sugar taken out of sugar cane or beat so the calories are readily accessible.
BANT (The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) have come up with a genius representation of a whole food based diet that makes getting our heads around this super easy. Their ideal plate looks like this:
If you are looking at this for the first time, you may have just had a bit of a “what the ….” moment, so let me break it down for you.
Simply switch half of what you eat in a day to a variety of non-starchy vegetables plus have some protein and a few starches at each meal.
Prioritise whole foods over processed ones. See the word prioritise. This doesn’t mean you can’t have cake ever again, it just means that the majority of what you eat should come from unprocessed sources.
So that’s it, the “secret” to achieving a slimmer body and better health is simply down to whole foods in the right proportions.
If this notion is still scary, start small. Start by adding in more and more vegetables, eventually aiming for 3 different kinds at each meal. Get more of the good stuff first and be kind to yourself along the way. Remember, this isn’t a diet, this is eating for health and the slimmer body is just a happy byproduct.
Switching to whole foods is something that can be achieved without much guidance but in case you need an example of what a personalised version of it looks like, the One Week Tweak is a great place to start.