I think just about everybody, at some time or another, has been ‘on a diet’ in an effort to lose those unwanted extra pounds. The problem with the concept of being ‘on a diet’ is that it’s seen as something to be endured; even the expression ‘losing’ weight has negative connotations if you think about it. Most people think that, in order to lose weight, they will need to give up the foods that they love or think that they love. Sometimes food is all about perception; how many times, as a child, were you told you could have a sweet, if you were good, as a ‘treat’? In more recent times, children who behave while mummy and daddy are shopping will be taken to McDonalds ‘as a treat’. What this means is that our minds are trained, from a young age, to associate foods that are bad for us with pleasure and a sense of reward for good behaviour. Although, as an adult, we can rationalise this, the ideas that are embedded in our minds as children can be quite difficult to shift.
If you can shift your mental attitudes towards food you will find that it’s much easier to arrive at a weight that you feel comfortable with without feeling that you are depriving yourself in some way. For example, what do you tell yourself when you are feeling a bit peckish? Many of us say ‘God, I’m starving!’. That thought will register in your mind and your body will react accordingly. Whereas before you were just slightly peckish and felt that you could use something to eat within the next hour or so, when you say ‘I’m starving’ your stomach will start to grumble and you’ll feel like you need to eat immediately and eat a lot – try it and you’ll see.
We will also react in different ways depending on how food is presented to us; look at the pictures below and see which one is more appealing to you?
Colourful, Delicious Baby poo in a stale bun
If you just look at the food without the captions and you are a die-hard burger addict I am sure that you will pick the second picture every time but doesn’t the idea of baby poo in a bun put you off just a little? Be honest now.
If you still fancy the idea of the burger then it maybe that you are just addicted; some scientists believe that sugar is more addictive than cocaine and take away burgers contain a lot of sugar. Yes, I know burgers are meant to be savoury and not sweet but many of them contain around 3 teaspoons of sugar and that’s without the fizzy drinks that you might have to go with it or the nuggets and dips (up to 4 teaspoons of sugar). You might think that’s not a lot but then think about other things you eat that you know are sweet – chocolate, cakes, biscuits etc. Add to that the other foods that have ‘hidden’ sugar, such as bread, breakfast cereals, sauces in jars etc. etc. and you realise that you are consuming far more sugar than you realise. The fact that it’s so addictive means that the more you eat, the more you want; you then end up in a weight gaining vicious circle.
Once you are eating less sugar, you should find that you have more energy and generally feel a good deal healthier. Sugar will give you a quick burst of energy but it doesn’t last very long and you often feel far worse than you did before once the rush has worn off. Try a simple experiment – one day 1 start your day with a bowl of high sugar cereal and see how you feel at about 10.30 (assuming you eat breakfast at about 7.30) and then on day 2 start your day with a small handful of almonds and some fruit. You should find that, on day 1, you are starting to feel hungry at around 10.30 and that you’re starting to lose energy whereas, on day 2, you are not hungry again until lunchtime, you have more energy and your mind is clearer. Give it a try and see how you get on
Approximately 80% of the 600,000 packaged foods you can buy in the US have added calorific sweeteners (this includes bread, burgers, things you wouldn’t add sugar to if you were making them from scratch). Daily fructose consumption has doubled in the past 30 years in the US, a pattern also observable (though not identical) here, in Canada, Malaysia, India, right across the developed and developing world. World sugar consumption has tripled in the past 50 years, while the population has only doubled; it makes sense of the obesity pandemic. [Source: Robert Lustig: Sugar, the bitter truth