Seriously, back then when I used to “do” diets I swore by Rosemary Conley. I cut out butter on my bread and ate low fat.
There was a very strong “fat is bad” and “carbs are good” message going around. So I cut down on the chocolate and chose jelly beans instead. Lots of them. I ate them by the bag full. After all they contained no fat, only sugar and that was a carbohydrate which meant it was good.
I swigged copious amounts of alcohol too and whilst I knew it probably wasn’t all that healthy (not in the quantities I was drinking anyway) it had no fat so that sort of meant it was ok too.
I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel that great at the time. I lurched from one sugar or alcohol fuelled high to slumps of such epic proportions you needed a shovel to dig me out.
There are two points to this story (probably a few more than that but they don’t paint me in a good light). One is that sometimes, even through the best of intentions, the science isn’t right. And secondly, we need to be selective and think through the choices we make, not because some report or scientist or government tells us to but based on what that choice does for us.
It’s a tricky world and there is a lot of conflicting information about what is good and bad to eat.
According to the NHS website a healthy diet consists of: 1/3 fruit and veg; 1/3 bread, rice, pasta, potato; approx. 1/6 each for dairy/milk and meat/fish/eggs/beans and finally approx. 1/10 for sugar and fat.
But is that right? I have to say that doesn’t work for me and I’m not convinced that it is necessarily right for others too. The problem is that we’ve been running down the path of “fat-bad; carbs-good” for so long that it’s hard to stop and turn around and run the other way.
Until recently I pretty much kept to the NHS guidelines I outlined above. However if you’ve read my earlier post about food you’ll know that because of The Fat Burn Revolution programme that I’m involved in at the moment I was exploring eating less of the starchy, processed carbs.
I did this with some trepidation but there were a couple of things that I read about recently that made me think that maybe these decisions were healthy ones after all.
First there was an article in the British Medical Journal by Dr Aseem Malhotra about saturated fat not being the baddie that it has long been purported to be and how carbohydrates may well play a significant part in heart disease. I’m simplifying the message quite considerably here but you can read about it here. (edited link from original post as that became obsolete).
The second was news that the Swedish government are the first western nation to revise their national nutritional guidelines to reduce carbohydrates and increase fat (see this link for more info).
Now I’m not saying either of these are necessarily right (and I’m not suggesting that you go and eat a pound of butter or anything) but they support what I’m trying to do and they gave me a different but authoritative viewpoint. I felt happier cutting down on the bread, pasta and potatoes after reading these but also knew that I’d need to get some extra energy from somewhere. So I’m eating more beans, chickpeas and lentils and increasing my fat intake with avocados and coconut oil.
It’s too early to say if eating like this is better for me. But this is what I’ve noticed so far:
1. When I eat like this quite strictly my energy levels soar. I need less sleep and I wake up raring to go.
2. On sunday night, after a heavy roast (with potatoes and yorkshire pudding) I sleep deeply and wake up tired.
3. The more carbohydrate I eat the hungrier I seem to be and I eat more in volume.
4. I don’t like avocado that much (but I’m working on it).
I don’t know whether this is the “right” way to eat. I can only go by what and how I feel because history has proven to me that the doctors and scientists don’t have all the answers.
So what do you think? How do you eat and how do you feel? I’d love to know…