An Apple A Day…

An Apple A Day…

Might well keep the Doctor away. So long as it is ‘an’ apple rather than a dozen apples a day! What a strange thing for him to say you might think. Where on earth is he heading with this… Quite simply I have been thinking about weight loss / gain, particularly as many of us are sitting, more or less house bound at present, and experiencing an irresistible desire to put things in our mouths.  And particularly have been reflecting on the often sighted defence of “there is nothing wrong with my diet. I eat [clean / healthy / fresh] so I really don’t understand why I’m getting fatter”; cue next trip to fruit bowl or “snack” from food mountain in fridge.

Ultimately the food we eat (on most days) needs to serve two purposes:

  1. We need to ingest total daily calories which are equal to the calories our body burns in total. Yes, the often-maligned simple: calories in / calories out theory. A calorie deficit (burn more than you eat) and you WILL lose weight. Other way around, a calorie surplus (consume more than you burn) and you WILL gain body fat and weigh more. This is an absolute biological certainty. But you need to go one step deeper…
  • Remember that not all calories are equal, or at least not equal in terms of their nutritional value. In order to function correctly, our bodies require sufficient quantities of Macro (protein / fat / carbohydrate) nutrients as well as Micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients. Getting this wrong (repeatedly), and eventually you win yourself a case of malnutrition. Which would be somewhat annoying; to have a body to die for and actually be dying as a consequence of getting it!  When it comes to nutritional balance life can become a little more complicated, if we let it. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact the simpler you keep things the better. 

Before I move on, I want to underline the fact that so called “clean” or worse still “healthy” foods can fall foul of either of the above two Golden Principles. Admittedly not as easily as a super binge in MacDonalds, but they are not magic food either!

The issue (for some people) with so called “clean” / “healthy” foods is that they can become used as way to ‘game’ your diet. The process looks a little like this: Fine I won’t eat refined sugar and chocolate, but I will find the sweetest “clean” foods I can (apple anyone?) and then because they are “clean” and “healthy” I can eat an unlimited quantity… It’s not really binging because they are a “clean” “healthy” foods. Four apples, 300g of raisins, a bunch of grapes and two pears later you can almost feel your gums recessing! And then for the second Golden Principle, they screw their eyes up REALLY tight and whisper to a passing Unicorn that ANY “clean” food contains ALL Macro and Micronutrients required. So basically, they can pick the ones they dislike the least and job done. “Healthy Eating” on an angelic “clean” diet which earns them a nutritional halo.

I have bad news on several levels:

  1. I don’t care who told you, but I’m telling you that Unicorns do not exist. 
  2. Portion control, or more specifically managing calories in (Principal 1) matters REGARDLESS of how clean or dirty something is to eat. 
  3. OK, if you are trying to eat “clean” you are probably closer to achieving Principle 2, but you are not necessarily there unless you take steps to eat a broad balanced diet. 

The tedious boring truth is that ultimately the above two Principles are all we really need to focus on if we want to achieve our desired “ideal” weight (whatever that is… But probably the subject of a future blog). Eating “clean” does not automatically achieve these Principles. And in fact, and the reason for this post, they can sometimes actually deflect our best efforts as we subconsciously try to find the ‘easy solution’ and cheat. 

If it’s that simple (just TWO Principles and no fad dieting) why are there so many overweight people walking around, often unhappy, who claim “they have tried everything” and they “just can’t shed the weight”? They may well have tried every fad diet under the sun, but they will not have applied the above two principles above CONSISTENTLY and OVER TIME. And when they say that they “can’t shed the weight” I rather think what they mean is “in such a way that it stays off”.

Again, the tedious boring truth to losing weight permanently, is applying the above two principles. But not as a restrictive diet (there is ABSOLUTELY no point in a restrictive diet unless you wish to compound your weight issues with a more complex eating disorder and malnutrition). Rather the above two principles need to underpin a series of small incremental changes that become lifestyle changes. 

Again, the tedious boring truth to losing weight permanently, is applying the above two principles. But not as a restrictive diet (there is ABSOLUTELY no point in a restrictive diet unless you wish to compound your weight issues with a more complex eating disorder and malnutrition). Rather the above two principles need to underpin a series of small incremental changes that become lifestyle changes. 

Here is the bad news, (yes worse than debunking the Unicorn fantasy), unless you actively monitor and record what you eat it is highly likely that you will be breaking one or both of the above Principles. Of course, you will know (even without a food diary) if you are falling on the wrong side of those golden principles, won’t you? You will know every time you step on the scales.

The BIG difference is having a food diary (for a period of time at least) and always coming back to the two golden principles, you are ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED to be in control of your weight (be that to gain or lose). 

So there you are. Now you know. But you probably secretly knew that anyway (not about Unicorns, the other bit…). But if you agree that the above is correct (which it is!) then the next question has to be what tools do you need to implement this? 

In the meantime enjoy your Apple (singular).

Cheerio 🙂

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