Why do we hang onto beliefs even when facts prove them wrong? I’m not talking about the existence of god or not, though I firmly feel that if some atheists were given proof-positive that god existed they’d STILL be atheists.
Why? Because our beliefs matter a heck of a lot to us. They are who we are. They are our identity. When they’re questioned, it can cause real problems. As the lovely Bad Science doctor and author Ben Goldacre has pointed out time and time again, facts don’t refute personal beliefs – they make people hang onto them even more. Why and what has this to do with dieting, but especially Paleo high-protein/high fat dieting? Quite a lot!
Everything you’ve been told is wrong!
It’s come as something of a shock to learn that my government seems to have been lying to me. Okay so to some, that will sound silly. Of course governments lie to us, d’oh! But I’m not talking about politicians lying. We know most do and it’s why, though I’m a very political animal, I could never contemplate going into politics. I’m a very truthful person. I have to be with this useless-for-poker face.
No I speak of governments lying. Government departments. Specifically the public health side. For me it’s been something of a revelation that governments, or perhaps I should more accurately say states, tell lies. Especially so about diet.
Eggs dangerous? But no warnings on alcohol, sugar and tobacco!
Here’s but one tiny example… back in 1972 the UK government warned us that eggs were dangerous! In 1972 the official advice about eating eggs was to eat no more than two a week. Because they were dangerous! (This idiotic advice wasn’t reversed until 2009!)
This was before any warnings were put on cigarette packets, no warning about how many units of alcohol to drink a week and no warnings about sugar in your diet – and there are still none today about sugar which has been given a free pass at every juncture of government’s dictates about food and its relation to our health. A lie, mistaken or just neglectful of facts?
Telling us sweet little lies
Our governments definitely lie to us about sugar. They tell us fat is the baddie and sugar is ignored. But low-fat foods contain tons of sugar. They have to or they’d be unpalatable. Why aren’t we told the truth about this? Surely by now sufficient evidence has amassed to make the case and stop blaming fat for, well, making us fat? Calories from sugar do us far more harm than calories from fat.
But the sugar lobby terrifies governments. It bullies governments. It even bullied the World Health Organisation into keeping from us how bad added sugar is in our diets. (Source: The Men Who Made Us Thin, broadcast Thursday August 15, 2013, BBC2).
A government that is bullied by big business then lies to its citizens means we can no longer trust it. And that’s dangerous. We need to have authorities into which we can place our trust.
I’m no tinfoil-hat wearing fan of conspiracy theories. But it’s impossible not to draw the conclusion that came screaming of The Men Who Made Us Thin last week that the food lobby in behaving exactly as Big Tobacco once did and the alcohol industry still does has more influence over our government than health professionals who invariably have far smaller budgets. As is so often the case, it call comes down to money.
Exercise is not the answer
Equally hard is trying to get across the idea that exercise is not the answer to a weight problem. And people who are overweight are not necessarily lazy nor stupid. They’ve probably listened to bad advice and are beating themselves up over their size when there’s really no need to. And you can’t blame them for listening to the advice they’ve been given since most of us mostly do listen to what those we presume to know better tell us.
The Men Who Made Us Thin offered ample evidence last week of how and why exercise is not the answer to a weight problem and yet, having been sold this for so long, not least by public health departments, people are incredibly reluctant to let go of the idea.
The work of two personal trainers recently came across my radar. Sam Feltham ate 5,000 calories a day without gaining weight to prove that what you eat is what counts, not punishing, gruelling, exercise. Exercise, argues Feltham, is pointless in the face of eating fake food.
And Oliver Selway has argued on his magnificent and highly instructive website and book Instinctive Fitness that we were never meant to do hundreds of boring repetitions in the gym, doing exercise till it hurts, getting out of breath and restricting ourselves to very low calorie diets.
A better way to fitness and health
You can eat well, enjoy your food and enjoy life without punishing yourself with exercise you hate. And you can lose weight this way and keep it off. If you keep following the government’s advice about eating a low fat, low calorie diet and taking lots of exercise, ever likely you’ll end up feeling a fat failure and hating yourself for it.
This stupid dietary advice doesn’t work for the vast majority of people because it’s impossible to stick to. Blaming the individual for failing might work well for a government far too keen to deliver consumers to big business interests but it won’t work for you and you don’t have to go on listening to rotten, vested-interest advice.
You could do as I have done. Try something that works for a change! I’ve now taken nearly two stone off in six months from following a mostly Paleo/high protein diet, not counting calories and barely taking any exercise at all. Much like how our ancestors lived. Imagine how they’d laugh at us doing crunches, situps, spinning, weights, repetitions and boring, pointlessly punishing runs!
No paid-for plugs
I say again that NO ONE has asked me to plug their products, books, blogs or websites here nor offered me money for doing so. Everyone I’ve ever mentioned I do so because I’ve given very careful consideration to what they are saying and whether it makes sense to me. Nor do I ever offer anyone copy approval before I hit publish. It’s important for me to keep banging on about this because there are so many vested interests in the whole low fat/high exercise tosh that’s pumped out daily I want my readers to know no such interest exists here.
As Humphrey Bogart used to say, I stick my neck out for nobody.