So I feel I should address a TV programme and article that went out this week in the UK in which Guardian newspaper journalist Jacques Peretti says not only do diets fail but they’re not meant to work. The business model is based on failure. A product is sold which is predicated on not working. If it worked, there’d be no diet industry.
I made much the same point myself a few days ago and that was before I saw the pre-publicity for this programme called The Men Who Made Us Thin – except that they didn’t. They made and continue to make fat fat profits on selling us a thin ideal. Peretti also covered this in his previous short TV series The Men Who Made Us Fat.
Admitting how the diet industry relies on failure a former WeightWatchers finance director told Peretti in his latest film that their business model was based on an 84% failure rate. That’s how they made their billions. “They just keep coming back!” he beamed, as if he’d discovered how to spin household dust into pure gold. Perhaps he had. So why do I stick with it, knowing diets don’t work?
Dieting makes you crazy
An experiment carried out in America shortly after the Second World War ended tried to find out what happened to healthy men who volunteered to be fed for six months on a “starvation” diet of 1500 calories. I’ve put the word starvation into quotes there because 1500 calories is the top end of what most women try to eat when they’re on a diet. I’ve never thought of 1500 calories as starvation.
That said, men do need more calories and these men were made to carry out physical exercises. The research was carried out to try and see how semi-starved Europe would manage with post-War reconstruction. How had its people coped with so many of them starving or half starving? The results showed being starved makes you crazy, even a diet of 1500 calories. Many of the men became reclusive, anti-social, acting so bizarrely that in one case a man chopped off several of his fingers!
Dieting makes you fat
Once the men were let out of their calorie-controlled cage they ate and they ate and they ate. They didn’t just go back to their pre-diet weights. They went way over them. The diets had turned men of ordinary weight into overweight men.
We’ve known for some time that dieting makes you fat and that the diet industry is hugely relieved that it does! All calorie-controlled diets require some kind of restriction, deprivation. And basically that causes the brain to go into starvation mode. It thinks the body is starving so it does everything it can to make you eat. Eventually, you crack. Messages from our brain are the most powerful of all. Best way not to get overweight is never to diet.
So why am I still dieting?
Course for us lifelong dieters, that isn’t an option. But why am I still dieting? Fervently hoping I’ll be among that tiny percentage that not only takes weight off but keeps it off? Because I have no choice. If I don’t lose weight, I will almost certainly develop Diabetes. I’ve been diagnosed as pre-Diabetic and that’s far enough.
I’m also persisting with this because while I think having a health incentive to lose weight is a better one than vanity or trying to get a bloke, I do genuinely believe Paleo is different. Paleo doesn’t require calorie counting nor deprivation. Paleo is human, a kind diet, a lovely diet. A delicious diet.
I’ve been scattering recipes throughout this blog and I am going to put them all in one place when I do my book. It will include at least one chapter of vegetarian recipes and meal plans as I’ve been asked by several people if Paleo is suitable for vegetarians. It is. It’s suitable for everyone. And it’s a great way to eat whether you’re trying to lose weight or not.
But while you’re all waiting for me to write my book, for now here’s a lovely recipe I’ve use to substitute mashed potatoes. I call it Faux Pink Mash or Pink Paleo Mash. It’s perfect for vegetarians as an accompaniment to a rich vegetable casserole, say, or a mushroom and nut stroganoff.
You will need:-
One large leek cut into slices
One medium cauliflower broken into florets
One large carrot peeled and chopped into small slices
Spoonful of dijon mustard
120 grams/4 ounces strongly-flavoured hard cheese, grated.
knob of butter
freshly-grinded black pepper
Gently boil the leek, cauliflower and carrot in water for about ten minutes or until tender. Drain. Dry in the pan to remove as much water as possible then place the vegetables into a bowl and add the butter, black pepper, dijon and cheese. Mash it up. Can use an electric whisk if you like.
It tends to be a bit squishy and wetter than mashed potatoes (which is why I don’t add cream though you can if you want). But I’ve found that if you place the mash into a tupperware dish and put it in the ‘fridge overnight or until you want to use it, it does seem to become much drier. You can then warm up the mash in a microwave but it’ll taste a lot better if you heat it up in the oven with some dollops of butter dotted around the top, same as you would for shepherd’s, cottage or a fish pie for which this would make a great potato topping substitute. Takes about 30 minutes to warm through at 175C/375F (or two minutes in the microwave) and it will keep in the ‘fridge for a week or you can freeze it for three months.
You could add an egg to the mash then bag and pipe it out in small amounts onto a greaseproof-papered baking tray to make faux Duchess potatoes. I haven’t tried that yet. Sounds great though doesn’t it?
More next week. Enjoy your weekend.