This week saw the second episode of the controversial ‘Lose a stone in 21 days’ being aired.
Well, where do I start?
The first thing that struck me about this episode is just how much scaremongering was going on!
There was so much talk about inflammatory diseases, diabetes, sleep apnea etc….it really was quite frightening.
But what I found most frightening is how things were not explained very well at all. Now, I am no doctor but I do know that there are 2 types of diabetes – something that was massively overlooked.
People with Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, it is almost like not having a key. We do not know the cause of this.
People with Type 2 diabetes do not respond to insulin as they should and eventually do not produce enough. It is like having a broken key. We do know the cause of this – a lifestyle factors such as excess weight and inactivity.
People do not develop Type 2 diabetes overnight as a result of eating too many carb or bananas, as the programme insinuates!
It develops over time as a result of poor lifestyle choices that lead to someone becoming overweight.
It is more about calories as a whole than carbohydrates or sugars themselves. Demonising these two foods is just not helpful nor is it evidence-based.
The major issue that is affecting the health of so many is the overconsumption of processed foods. These are full of refined sugars that are high in calories and low in nutritional value.
So to blame it all on a poor, nutritious banana that is full of fibre, potassium and NATURAL sugar just seems very skewed.
Even if you do develop Type 2 diabetes, bananas can absolutely be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet plan.
So can sweets and chocolate ….
Which brings me on to the next issue with the programme.
One of the participants is a mother with 2 young boys who had been a yo-yo dieter for many years. She clearly has an emotional attachment with food and her weight gain. And she loves chocolate. But as part of this 21 day plan, chocolate is forbidden.
She talks about how she is going to try not to eat it despite being faced with lots of it at her parents’ house and with her children.
I have discussed on many occasions how restricting foods is a recipe for disaster and can often lead to a binge and restrict cycle. You will inevitably end up having the foods you love again but will feel guilty, think you have ruined everything and most likely overeat!
And then restrict again.
A much more sustainable approach would be to allow yourself the food you love. As all my clients report, doing so actually leads to them experiencing fewer cravings and eating less.
But what was even more disturbing, and probably the most upsetting part of the programme, was watching her interaction with her son.
They made chocolate cookies and she would not allow herself one.
‘Is mummy allowed this?’ she asked, in a scarily jovial manner.
‘No,’ her son replied very earnestly.
‘Does mummy want this?’ she then said.
‘Yes!’ he said with a smile.
That is just so, so sad.
I hate to say it, but what message is she giving her children? That diets are OK and you have to restrict food to lose weight. It also gives negative connotations to the cookies they clearly all love as a family. This, more often than not, leads to adults who have a poor relationship with food, body image and self-esteem.
We are our children’s best role model. We need to show them a healthy relationship with food unless we want them to fall in to the same diet trap … for more on that, you can read my blog here.
Towards the end of the programme we saw another man who was starting to obsess about food, He was physically struggling on just 800 calories a day and was craving more food and spoke about cleaning every last bit of his plate.
But he would not listen to these cues as he was expected to continue with the diet!
This is so inherently wrong. Living by diet rules like this takes away our innate ability to listen to when we are hungry and when we are full.
This, in turn, leads to weight gain over time as people lose the ability to self regulate. They start to distrust their own bodies and look for more rules to live by. It is a dangerous cycle and often ends up seeping in to other areas of life as confidence dips and self esteem disappears.
I kid you not, this is just how destructive diet culture can be and yet so many of us fail to see it.
But once you do, you can’t unsee it – as my clients will tell you.
I could go on and on about this programme and Michael Mosely’s biased approach. He is clearly someone who found losing a stone and managing push ups at age 63 quite easy.
Most people do not.
They need someone who understands the real issues that face many people who have gained weight and struggle to lose it. The emotional and physical barriers, the worries, the fears, the loss of identity.
Only then will they make permanent change.