Category Archives: Conventional Wisdom

The Empire Strikes Back: Does the “Jenny Craig” diet work?

Does the “Jenny Craig” diet work?  Let’s ask Carrie Fisher

August last year and we shared an article about Carrie Fisher who had lost three and a half stone on the Jenny Craig diet…..the piece was simple and to the point: it wouldn’t last.  It couldn’t last because the diet was based on conventional wisdom: eat less (much less) of the same food that made you overweight in the first place and exercise more.  This morning this picture appeared in our paper:

carrie-fischerWell, may be it’s an unfortunate angle but for many of us this will strike a deep chord.. the fact is, diets don’t work.  And to all those diet groups out there like Jenny Craig who pedal “small portions” of biscuits and pasta and low-fat, high sugar “food” we say again…get real!  This is what made you fat in the first place, carefully manufactured “food” designed to de-sensitise you taste-buds and knock out your natural ability to tell when you have had enough.

And when the diet ends (as any one who has ever embarked on a restricted calorie diet knows it inevitably will), tell us…what’s changed?

To tackle weight issues once and for all you have to clean up your diet.  Anyone who tells you any different is being economical with the truth.  Period.

Some of us labour under the illusion that we are broken.  Wrapped up in our stories we forget the first rule of life: which is that we are all alive now  and really just how much of an very big adventure it is!

For many our experience of life is being compromised by the poor quality “food” we eat and the devastating impact it has on our mind, body and soul.  It can numb us and makes us less then our real Selves.

The answer?  Stop using food to avoid life.  Stop inventing reasons why you can’t do it too!  Therapists and counsellors will sit with you for hours turning over your childhood to come up with valid reasons to make you less than.  Don’t fall for it.  Keep it simple, keep it real.  Change the food you eat.  Learn what you can and can’t eat in order to find your natural weight (and we’ll give you a clue..paleo…) and stick with it, for life.  In this way you have practical tools: a compass and guide to focus on to get you out of the place you find yourself and better still you’re doing it for yourself!  Keep walking forward, don’t look back.  Why does it work?  Because you are eating real food combined with satisfying healthy fat that will keep you feeling well and content.

In the meantime, we wish Carrie well and invite you to share your thoughts on conventional dietary wisdom and the affect it has had on your life.

How Do I Stop Feeling Hungry?

Hungry WomanHow do I stop feeling hungry?  Hunger is a strong desire, a craving, a need for food and describes the discomfort, weakness or pain caused by a prolonged absence or lack of food such as you will experience on a calorie controlled diet.

Hunger is also the biggest problem to sustained weight loss.  Most people can put up with it for a few weeks even months but ask anyone who has tried a conventional diet long-term and they will all agree: over time, it is impossible to endure hunger and the associated feeling of deprivation.  Not only does hunger make it virtually impossible to stick to a calorie restricted diet, throw in a large dose of exercise and 9.9 times out of ten, hunger will always win out! Worse still, give in to hunger at this point and you will find the problem goes into over drive and becomes one of over eating.  You have let yourself get too hungry and everything else goes out the window!  Been there?

Key here is the point that if you want to lose the weight and keep it off you must avoid feeling hungry.  You must keep your appetite satisfied and chose foods that will truly satisfy your hunger.  (Clue: think paleo/primal eating).  Experience shows that if you let your appetite grow and get to the point of feeling very hungry (ravenous) you are more likely to reach for carbohydrates (for sugar for starch) than to sit tight in quiet anticipation of your next meal!

So the best food group for appetite control is protein.  Eat a meal rich in protein foods and you will experience greater satisfaction over a longer period of time than a meal rich in carbohydrates.  And you will find that you eat less over time but without experiencing hunger!  It is worth taking a moment to understand the effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss.

There is no doubt that we do feel full after a carbohydrate meal but how many of us have experienced intense hunger an hour later?  It is a food’s ability to satisfy hunger over a longer period of time that counts.  This is key.  This is what our forefathers knew though of course they did not have access to the junk food and highly processed foods that pre-occupy us today.  Carbohydrates cause other difficulties for example they also disrupt our blood sugar.  Fast sugar releasing carbohydrates – that is doughnuts, milkshakes, white bread, pasta and the like cause a spike in blood sugar that prompts surges of insulin that can affect blood sugar levels driving them down: this complex hormonal response will trigger hunger and strong cravings particularly for those fast releasing carbs.  It’s a vicious circle and one to avoid!

Fat satisfies our hunger, period.  Try it and see.  It tastes good and gives texture to our meals.  However it’s true value lies in the fact that it has no effect on insulin secretion.  Let ‘s say that again.  Fat’s true value as an appetite suppressant is that it doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion and thereby avoids all the problems with plummeting blood sugar levels outlined above.  In addition, fat stimulates the secretion of the hormone cholecystokinin which slows down the rate at which the stomach empties of food and therefore helps to promote feelings of fullness for longer.  It is also impossible to over eat fat, your body doesn’t let you..don’t believe us? Try it and see.

Check out the results of this eating experiment on overweight men in 2008.  This study concludes that high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets reduce hunger and lower food intake significantly more than a high-protein, medium carohydrate non-ketogenic diet.

To manage our hunger our meals must be based on protein and fat.  Carbohydrates are not necessary in our diet but can be useful to add variety and texture to our meals.  In this way we avoid becoming hungry and we avoid situations where our ravenous hunger drives us to make poor food choices.  And this is how I stop feeling hungry.  The rest is up to you!

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