Want to lose weight?
Just eat more celery and less meat pies!
While most people should recognise this as ridiculous advice, is it really any different to the message of just eat more veggies and less “junk”? As in, if losing weight were that simple, surely the millions of people who have tried to lose weight would have been successful by now. In addition, the current common wisdom around what is required to control body weight is mistaken (weight loss is not a simple equation of eat less and move more), which helps explain why no one is able to do it.
If we were machines and could just program our food for the day, then just doing what is suggested by this “common wisdom”, might actually be possible – but we are not machines, we are complex organisms with complex emotional and physiological needs and desires. You can’t simply instruct someone on how to eat to meaningfully* lose weight – oh wait, that’s what most weight loss programs try to do – it’s no wonder they don’t work!
*meaningfully, meaning in a way that benefits the individual mentally and physically over their life-time
So why isn’t it as simple as just eat more veggies and less “junk”?
Factors that influence food choices:
- How hungry you are
- Awareness of how hungry you are
- How long since you last ate
- The type of food you late ate
- The type of food that appeals to your taste buds
- The type of food available
- History of dieting
- Past or current food restriction
- Emotional state
- How tired you are
- How much sleep you’re getting
- How much stress you’re under
- Your hormones and metabolic factors
- Any medications you may be on
- Where you’re next meal is coming from
- A sense of when and what you’re going to be eating next
- How active you’ve been
- What you’ve got on for the rest of your day
- What the other people you’re eating with will eat
- What other people are telling you you should or should not be eating
I’m sure there’s many more, so feel free to add more in the facebook comments.
Eating celery over meat pies, or less extreme, advice to eat more veggies and less highly processed food does not take into account or address any of these factors, in fact, placing the emphasis on the food could exacerbate a number of them. Now, I am not for a second staying eating more veggies is not a worthwhile pursuit, or would not benefit health. Instead, I am wanting to highlight that very often, well meaning dietary advice falls way short of the mark and only serves to perpetuate our culture’s unhelpful and often very damaging diet and weight loss industries.
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