Have you ever wondered why there are so many diets? And more importantly, why they don’t work? Well, maybe they do – for someone else… OK, I am going to tackle these questions here and hopefully clear some air for you. To be honest, until recently, I found all this confusing.
Well, we all know about the food pyramid which represents the current nutritionists’ advice how to eat to stay healthy. It implies that we should eat minimal amounts of fat, small amounts of protein, larger amounts of fruit and vegies, but most of our food intake should consist of breads, pasta, rice, cereal etc (grains).
Furthermore, the whole society is paranoid about fat. Everything is low or no fat; trim beef, lean pork, diet mince, skinless chicken breast, low fat milk, cheese and yoghurt, reduced fat cream. You get the drift. Food is even branded differently to distinguish it from the “un-healthy” food. Some examples: “Weight-Watchers”, “Trim&Terrific”, “Light Start”.
But people overall are not getting slimmer. The statistics actually show that more and more of us are getting fat or even obese. And the scary part is that this phenomenon now includes kids! So, it begs to ask: “Is the food pyramid working?” Looking at this over the last 30 year period, it appears that the less fat in our diets, the more fat on our bodies. Something is not right here with this logic…
There are some doctors that would argue about the validity of the food guide pyramid. For instance, Drs Richard & Rachael Heller advise in their book “The Carbohydrates Addicts Diet“, that in order to stay slim and fit, you need to eat large amounts of protein, fat is also ok, and only small amounts of carbohydrates. Since fruit and veqies are mainly carbs, you have to limit their consumption.
Dr Robert C. Atkins, in his book “The New Diet Revolution“, would go even further and almost totally eliminate carbs from the diet and substitute them with fat. This effectively puts the current pyramid upside down!
Now, if you don’t find this confusing yet, then wait, there is more.
Dr Barry Sears, a Nobel Prize winner for his research into eicasanoids and diet advisor to some top athletes in US, is recommending to eat equal amounts of carbs, protein and fat in each and every meal. Harvey Diamond, in his book “Fit For Life“, however, is saying that you can’t mix carbs and protein in the same meal. This is due to the fact that stomach secretes different juices in order to digest each food type. Followers of the Kensington diet would agree with this theory. (Kensington was the dietitian of the late Princess Diana.)
There is also a large number of other diets, including, but not limited to, vegeterian, vegan, frutarian, raw and any combination of the above. Furthermore, proponents of each diet are claiming very high success rates with their clients/patients – in the range of 80-90%.
As you can see, even the experts cannot agree on how we should eat. So don’t blame yourself for being confused – there is just too much conflicting information.
We humans are, fortunately or unfortunately, not created equal. We are not exact clones of each other – that’s what makes us human. There are athletes, office workers, mums, dads, kids, grandparents and the list goes on. There is no other person in the world like you. Not even your identical twin. Only you have your own genetic make-up. Your lifestyle is different from other people. You like different activities. You like different foods, etc. What most diets lack, is actually taking those differences into account. And it is precisely because of these differences that we have different dietary needs.
That’s why one diet will not work for everyone. A good diet is just like a good suit – one size does not fit all! It has to be custom made to the individual. Whatever the method that has worked for one person does not mean that the same method will work for you.
For most of the doctors/dieticians 80% is good enough. The remainder can be dismissed as genetics. You can write a bestseller with those figures. One example is “The Zone” by Barry Sears. But always remember, diet needs to be suited to the individual, not the other way around.