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Diets, Metabolism And Why I Need A GPS

Jean Shaw© - All Rights reserved


This afternoon I gave a talk on the benefits of having a Circle of Friends and the audience were lucky I turned up. I don’t mention that for egotistical reasons, but simply because I am geographically challenged.

Driving anywhere outside my comfort zone is usually off my agenda. However, having invested in one of those GPS things where a voice speaks as an arrow on a map points you in the right direction, I made an exception and amazingly found my way there and back safely.

I was asked to arrive about 12.30 p.m. so I could have lunch before I spoke. As it was half term, I took my autistic son with me, and he was delighted to try the various sandwiches, cakes and nibbles.

As we sat there enjoying the buffet lunch, I realised my friend, who’d invited me to give the presentation, was drinking what I thought to be a pink milk shake. However, when questioned, it transpired it was a meal replacement drink, and my friend was on yet another “diet”.

He was required to drink two of the replacement meal shakes every day, and these he said, contained all the daily minerals, vitamins and nutrients he needed within only 500 calories. He also confessed they tasted awful, and he really missed the texture of actually eating something. However, he was looking forward to next week when he could have biscuits instead of one of the drinks.

This particular diet is not cheap, so naturally I wondered why he would pay a lot of money to do something, which clearly made him miserable. The answer it seems is it works, or at least it works in the short term.

Apparently my friend has been on this particular diet before, and lost three stone in the same amount of months, which I have to admit, is pretty impressive. However, the fact he’s going on it again means just one thing – he didn’t keep the weight off, and there lies the problem with all diets. As soon as you stop dieting and start to eat normally the weight piles back on again and often even more.

Why is that?
Well, the main reason is your metabolism has this amazing ability to adjust itself according to how many calories you consume. As it doesn’t know how many calories you will devour in the future, it burns calories based on what you’ve had during the previous few days as it assumes you’ll continue to do the same.

Based on my friend’s diet, his metabolism will assume he only needs 500 calories each day, so as soon as he increases that amount he will gain weight. It’s a vicious circle and one, which anyone who has ever been on a low calorie diet has faced.

That’s why there are so many yo-yo dieters around, and why the diet manufacturers and promoters rub their hands with glee. Dieting is a big and profitable business, and if you think about it realistically, they don’t really want you to succeed.

As long as people are overweight they have a captive market, which translates to money. It’s the old find a starving crowd and give them what they want touch, except in this case the crowd isn’t starving.

As you can tell I’m personally not a fan of diets as self-denial sets you up for failure. Everyone I have ever met who has been on one has been miserable. They’ve thought about food all the time, what they can or can’t eat, and although they may have lost weight initially, it invariably came off in the wrong places. Many a woman has been devastated by the loss of her bust, which is often where a few of those extra pounds are carried.

Of course, that’s not where my male friend has his excess weight but he admitted he didn’t like his shape. However, everyone has his or her own unique framework and losing weight won’t necessarily turn him into his ideal body image. What he needs to do is learn to be happy with his body, eat healthily and take regular exercise.

Undoubtedly my friend will continue with his meal replacements, and he will of course lose weight for as long as he is allowed to remain on it. His challenge then will be keeping it off and somehow I can’t see him succeeding.

Just as I was geographically challenged, he will be food challenged, so if there’s anyone out there who can design one of those GPS things where a voice speaks as an arrow points in the right direction for sensible healthy eating and exercise, please get in touch!