Why New Year’s diets are mostly bollocks

“Have this pill and you can detox from your Christmas indulgence”

“New year, new restricted eating regime”

“Burn off extra calories with this ridiculous quick fix”

“Drink this tea and poop out all your fat”

GIVE ME A BREAK!! I can’t bear all the weight-loss crap that comes out in January. I’m not saying a fresh start isn’t needed (believe me, I’m putting down the red wine for a while, at least until I get rid of the stained teeth look), New Years is a great time to re-evaluate and reboot,  but the idea that a quick fix, crash diet or a silver bullet will help you become the best version of yourself is a scam. Step away from the pills. Put down the 6-pack electrocution machine. Let’s get real, here’s my low down on what bollocks to avoid and what you might consider instead.

Detox diets & supplements 

The idea that your body needs to rid itself of a build-up of toxins in the body from booze and rich foods is a clever marketing tool – it makes sense to us that overindulgence leaves us feeling sluggish therefore there must be leftover toxins in our livers or kidneys. Honestly though it’s B.S.

Our bodies are constantly bombarded with chemicals, toxins and other bad guys. Reducing the exposure to these toxins is of course beneficial to us, however not always possible or practical.  To survive, our bodies have evolved to defend against and remove unwanted substances. Our skin, lymphatic system, kidneys and liver combine to form an incredible intrinsic NATURAL detoxification system. You and I are detoxing all the flipping time.

As well as detox diets, there’s some pretty dodgy ‘detox’ pills out there too.  Although there has been some research into the effects of Green Tea supplements and stimulating thermogenesis (helping you ‘burn fat’ if you will) you must be careful. People have died taking these high dose supplements because they cannot metabolise the catechins in them. So, yeh… not ideal (and don’t even get me started on ‘skinny teas’ – poo your pants to get thin? WTF?!)

Now I’m not saying I’m against all supplements – quite the opposite – I have a cupboard full myself. BUT they are meant as an addition to your diet – they supplement it. You can’t cheat a bad diet with a couple of pills and powders. What you can do is add more nutritionally dense foods, plants & phytonutrients and balance your blood sugar levels by making sure you’ve got enough quality protein and fat in EVERY meal. Help your gut out with more fibre and plenty of water.  This will give your bodies detox system a helping hand but also by removing some of the nasties it has to contend with (I’m looking at you, processed crap) your detox system can focus on the job it needs to do ALL THE FREAKING TIME and believe me, it’s job isn’t to wade through crap food and drink you give it.

Calorie Counting

“A calorie is a calorie – so eat that 500kcal cake and burn it off in the gym yo?!”

This simplistic idea that it doesn’t matter where you get the calories from and the concept that weight loss only happens when you burn more calories than you consume is so out of the ark outdated and needs to stop.

Ok, ok so I’m not saying energy balance doesn’t matter and technically speaking in laboratory conditions, if you were to burn 100calories of broccoli compared to 100calories of a fizzy drink then sure, the energy expenditure would be the same. But our bodies are NOT sterile labs, they are amazing biochemical, dynamic systems. The foods we eat all take different metabolic pathways and different foods and macronutrients have a major effect on the hormones and brain centers that control hunger and eating behaviour.

Calorie counting doesn’t work for so many reasons – the most simplistic is that everybody needs a different amount of calories depending on many variables (weight, activity, age etc) but also day to day we need a different amount too. How you can begin to predict how many calories you personally need each day is boggling, then to stick to counting rigidly every hour is just plain joyless. People have been using calorie counting as a method of weight loss for decades, and guess what? The world is getting fatter.

The worst thing about counting dem calories is the danger of malnutrition. Ever chosen a packet of ‘healthy’ crisps over an avocado because there’s too many calories in the avo? Diet coke over a handful of nuts? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which one is going to be more beneficial to you overall. And guess what, if you’re not nourishing your body with the right nutrients it’s going to keep asking for them – hungry all day er’day. Miserable.

What’s more, new research is appearing which is pointing to our gut bacteria and it’s effect on weight. Very basically, your gut bacteria can affect how your food is digested, how fat is stored and whether you feel hungry or full. If your microbiome looks like the Gobi Desert then your much likely to gain weight or be obese than if it looks like the Amazon Rainforest. Treat your gut buddies well by eating high-fibre foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Now, this isn’t to say that calories don’t count at all. Of course, if you were to massively over-eat or under-eat every hour of every day then weight gain/loss will happen. All I’m saying is it is more complex and there are better ways to live your day to day healthy life than constantly adding numbers on your plate.

Finally, food isn’t just energy for our bodies! It does SO. MUCH. MORE – from repair, to supplying the building blocks for all the reactions that need to keep us alive and well. Food is INFORMATION. It tells your body about the environment it is in and what to do. It gives your body the tools it needs for the daily ongoing maintenance it does so well. Give it shitty tools then you get shoddy workmanship and you feel and look like crap. Give it what it needs and marvel at the beautiful mechanics working.

You need to earn your food / should be punished for being bad 

There are slogans and social media posts all over the shop saying how you should reward yourself with food because you’ve run for 20mins. Even the most influential sports brands have gross quotes like ‘No ache, No cake’. It is utter shite and ridiculously offensive.

We shouldn’t exercise in order to eat – it should be the other way round. Exercise isn’t punishment. Believe me, when you find the right type AND you’re eating well it’s pure JOY.

Go forth, eat well and enjoy moving.

Final note…

If you must do anything this January then educate yourself so you don’t get hooked in by the utter tripe on the net. Here are a few books I can highly recommend to get you started.

Mark Hyman – WTF should I eat? A great intro to many food myths but bewar – much of it is to do with American farming and food products

Amelia Freer – Nourish & Glow 10 day plan – I’m such a fangirl of this amazing lady and this book is SO MUCH MORE than just an eating plan.

Laura Thomas – Just Eat it – I’ve just started looking into intuitive eating and love Laura’s podcast and posts so I’ve go this one on order for when it comes out on 10th Jan – if you need to work on your relationship with food and your body then I reckon this may be the dogs danglies (in a good way.

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