I have openly talked about my past struggles with food.
Throughout my 20’s I battled with a crippling eating disorder.
It was a sad, painful, and miserable existence, which I am not going to get in to now…
But what I will say about my experience is that it is why I am so passionate about what I do – giving people their lives back! Because there is a life beyond diets – a much happier one at that.
It also means that I completely understand where my clients are coming from.
Yes, I am now back in control. Yes, I now live a healthy lifestyle.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
I know and understand the sad reality of attaching emotion to food.
Of using it to try and control external influences and blunt internal pain.
This means that I would never expect my clients to just adopt my current habits.
I know that it is just not that simple. It is often a long journey that involves digging deep, learning to love and take care of yourself. One that requires understanding the reasons for your behaviours so you can develop the tools to replace them.
Which is one of the issues I have with ‘How to lose a stone in 21 days’.
Michael Mosely and his family clearly live a disciplined way of life, good for them!
Flaunting that in front of the programme’s participants and demanding they just follow suit is insane.
We all know what we should be doing. We all know we need to be eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg, reducing overly processed foods and getting plenty of exercise.
So why don’t we all just do it?
I will tell you why – not one of us is a blank slate. We all have experiences, beliefs and emotions that ultimately control the choices we make. Getting to grips with these is the starting point, not a detox or a fad, extreme calorie-controlled diet.
This brings me on to my BIGGEST ISSUE with the programme.
My dieting history means that I know how eating disorders are triggered.
This show masquerades as a useful way to “get our health back on track”, to help people lose their “lockdown belly”! (Since when has it been OK to talk about our bodies in such a shameful and derogatory manner, by the way?)
How is promoting a crash diet, which it essentially is, a healthy approach?
It even contradicts the NHS 12 week weight loss plan which recommends 1,900 calories for men and 1,400 for women.
Such an overt focus on calorie counting, restriction and controlling behaviours (weighing food, ignoring hunger, destroying processed items) is dangerous for anyone with or vulnerable to an eating disorder. These approaches are simply not OK and most of us know it deep down. But anyone susceptible will convince themselves that it is acceptable – especially because Channel 4 and Michael Mosely say so! This is exactly how eating disorders take hold.
The title itself is like a red flag to a bull!
I know, I have been there.
Had this programme been aired when I was in recovery, I dread to think of the consequences.
It takes considerable time and lots of strength to be able to rise above the constant media messages that promote diet culture.
Protecting yourself from such harmful influences is difficult enough. Unfollowing them on social media takes courage.
But what hope do we have of ignoring a show that is aired on Channel 4 with a team of qualified professionals? It makes it seem legit.
And to top it off, there isn’t just one show – there is a series of them!
Scarily, eating disorders amongst young children is on the rise and it is believed that social media is a catalyst.
Family influence is also a known risk factor in developing an eating disorder which is why it was so heartbreaking to see a young mum, a self-confessed emotional eater, display unhealthy behaviours in front of her young boys. I talk more about that here.
At the end of the day, the research and observational science are pretty clear – such drastic measures to lose weight aren’t sustainable in the long term and are damaging to a person’s emotional and physical health.
Diets just don’t work.
By promoting diet culture, Channel 4 is potentially damaging the health of a population coming out of a worldwide pandemic rather than getting it back on track!
A much better approach would be to focus on how people can establish life long habits that give them back control.
Let them be heard, make them feel valued, don’t give them a ‘one size fits all approach’.
On the surface of it, this programme is antiquated and impractical at best.
But it has a much more sinister undertone that could ruin people’s lives forever!
Please don’t fall for it – if it seems shiny and too good to be true, it usually is!