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Archive for the ‘The Secret’ Category

A Stroll Down Diet Lane

It may seem like a new diet is introduced to the masses every other day, but many of today’s fads are simply reheated versions of oldies.

I recently came cross a brief timeline of fad diets (dates and names only) compiled by The American Dietetic Association.

It’s quite interesting to see that many current bestsellers originally popped up decades ago!

The first documented low-carbohydrate diet, for instance, appeared in Jean Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste back in 1825.

The no-frills (and no-nonsense) counting of calories was first written about in in Lulu Hunt Peters’ 1917 book, Diet and Health, with Key to the Calories.

Food combining — the completely baseless concept that mixing carbohydrates and protein in the same meal results in weight gain — originated in the 1930s.

The ever-popular grapefruit diet? It first appeared in the 1950s.

Then there are the truly bizarre fad diets.

My favorites?

There’s Horace Fletcher’s 1903 low-protein diet plan which urged dieters to chew food 32 times — not 31 or 33! — before swallowing.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became known as “The Great Masticator”.

In 1925, the Cigarrette Diet came along, in which tobacco companies happily advertised the appetite-suppressing powers of their “magic” cancer sticks.

One popular tagline? “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”  Yeah — especially if your lungs have a death wish!

1961 brought along Dr. Herman Taller’s — don’t laugh — “Calories Don’t Count Diet”.

According to the good doctor, all you had to do was eat as much as protein as you wanted (he claimed these calories literally “didn’t count”) and immediately follow that meal with one of his special vegetable oil pills.  Sounds like a combination of Gary Taubes’ carbphobia and Kevin Trudeau’s shamelessness.

The Sleeping Beauty Diet, which promoted heavily sedating patients so they slept for several days and therefore did not consume any calories, emerged from some sicko’s mind in 1970.

The ridiculousness is far from over.

Just last year, Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret claimed two keys to weight loss were ridding yourself of the belief that food makes you fat and taping a piece of paper with your ideal weight on it over your scale’s display screen, in order to allow “the universe” to create a new reality for you.

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You Ask, I Answer: Low Calorie Diets

What would you say is the minimum substantial amount of total calories you should eat to lose weight?

Are 800 calorie diets really that bad?

I was told that if you eat below 600 calories, your body goes into starvation mode.

But if you stay from 600-1000, then you’re guaranteed weight loss?

I just want to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it.

I recall you saying that’s the wrong way to go but then why do so many dietitians and weight management centers recommend this ?

– Janie (last name unknown)

New York, NY

Low calorie diets (those going below the minimum daily recommended intake of 1,200 calories) are a terrible idea.

I take issue with the entire concept of a “diet.”

If you go on one, you will inevitably go off it. And then what?

Most likely, old habits return — along with the weight you initially set out to lose.

What I recommend is a metamorphosis towards improved dietary patterns and relationships with food.

I want to point out that this should always be looked at as a work in progress, and a process that isn’t consistently moving in one direction.

An emotional setback or particularly stressful time, for instance, might have you reverting to old dietary patterns or seeking out high-calorie, sugar-laden comfort foods.

Not surprisingly, in a society where we are basically told that if we do not get what we want in 7 days or less we might as well resign ourselves to the fact that we are failures, this thinking doesn’t exactly dominate the mainstream media.

Instead, people are told that in order to lose weight, they must:

Believe that food does not make them fat (The Secret)
Not eat brown rice and chicken in the same meal (Suzanne Somers)
Get a colonic every 2 days (Kevin Trudeau)
Drink a hideous mix of maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (Hollywood fast).

And so on and so forth.

If any dietitian, weight center, or book recommends that you eat less than 1,200 calories a day, RUN – do not walk – away.

Going below this figure poses several problems.

From a weight loss perspective, metabolism slows down (especially since the thyroid gland slows down production of thyroxine, a hormone that plays a major role in metabolism), lean mass is lost, and muscle tissue is broken down in order to create glucose.

So, when you return to your normal caloric intake, you will undoubtedly gain weight because your body is no longer as efficient at burning calories.

Going below 1,200 calories is also problematic from a health perspective.

With such low caloric intakes, it is extremely difficult to obtain necessary nutrients from food, including fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Sure, there are always supplements, but healthy compounds like polyphenols, lignans, and certain antioxidants are exclusively found in foods, not pills.

What always strikes me as odd is that many times I see people who normally consume 2,500 calories start a 1,200 calorie diet overnight.

Completely unnecessary.

If that person were to simply slash 500 calories each day, they can enjoy 2,000 calories on a daily basis and kick-start weight loss.

You mention not knowing “what you are doing wrong.”

I am assuming you are having a difficult time losing weight.

I do not know your individual circumstances, but by reducing your caloric intake (say, by 300 calories each day) and increasing your physical activity, you should begin seeing slow, steady results.

If this is not the case, I recommend having your thyroid checked by an endocrinologist.

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You Ask, I Answer: Low Calorie Diets

What would you say is the minimum substantial amount of total calories you should eat to lose weight?

Are 800 calorie diets really that bad?

I was told that if you eat below 600 calories, your body goes into starvation mode.

But if you stay from 600-1000, then you’re guaranteed weight loss?

I just want to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it.

I recall you saying that’s the wrong way to go but then why do so many dietitians and weight management centers recommend this ?

– Janie (last name unknown)

New York, NY

Low calorie diets (those going below the minimum daily recommended intake of 1,200 calories) are a terrible idea.

I take issue with the entire concept of a “diet.”

If you go on one, you will inevitably go off it. And then what?

Most likely, old habits return — along with the weight you initially set out to lose.

What I recommend is a metamorphosis towards improved dietary patterns and relationships with food.

I want to point out that this should always be looked at as a work in progress, and a process that isn’t consistently moving in one direction.

An emotional setback or particularly stressful time, for instance, might have you reverting to old dietary patterns or seeking out high-calorie, sugar-laden comfort foods.

Not surprisingly, in a society where we are basically told that if we do not get what we want in 7 days or less we might as well resign ourselves to the fact that we are failures, this thinking doesn’t exactly dominate the mainstream media.

Instead, people are told that in order to lose weight, they must:

Believe that food does not make them fat (The Secret)
Not eat brown rice and chicken in the same meal (Suzanne Somers)
Get a colonic every 2 days (Kevin Trudeau)
Drink a hideous mix of maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (Hollywood fast).

And so on and so forth.

If any dietitian, weight center, or book recommends that you eat less than 1,200 calories a day, RUN – do not walk – away.

Going below this figure poses several problems.

From a weight loss perspective, metabolism slows down (especially since the thyroid gland slows down production of thyroxine, a hormone that plays a major role in metabolism), lean mass is lost, and muscle tissue is broken down in order to create glucose.

So, when you return to your normal caloric intake, you will undoubtedly gain weight because your body is no longer as efficient at burning calories.

Going below 1,200 calories is also problematic from a health perspective.

With such low caloric intakes, it is extremely difficult to obtain necessary nutrients from food, including fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Sure, there are always supplements, but healthy compounds like polyphenols, lignans, and certain antioxidants are exclusively found in foods, not pills.

What always strikes me as odd is that many times I see people who normally consume 2,500 calories start a 1,200 calorie diet overnight.

Completely unnecessary.

If that person were to simply slash 500 calories each day, they can enjoy 2,000 calories on a daily basis and kick-start weight loss.

You mention not knowing “what you are doing wrong.”

I am assuming you are having a difficult time losing weight.

I do not know your individual circumstances, but by reducing your caloric intake (say, by 300 calories each day) and increasing your physical activity, you should begin seeing slow, steady results.

If this is not the case, I recommend having your thyroid checked by an endocrinologist.

Share

Say What?: The (Completely Ridiculous) Secret

If you haven’t read it, I am sure you’ve heard about it. The Secret — a book revealing the “ancient secret” that, surprise, optimism and believing in yourself are more likely to get you the life you want than negativity and anger — has been topping best-selling lists all over the globe.

Thanks to its overproduced wannabe Da Vinci Code feel, it is initially thought-provoking and inspiring (largely due to its glossy marketing until you realize, “Well, yeah, of course I’m more likely to be successful if I believe in myself and utilize opportunities rather than think I’m doomed for failure and give up on myself.”

In essence, “The Secret” is to make the masses believe you hold the key to their happiness, and ask them to pay for your “wisdom”.

Anyway, I recently came across the following passage in the book version of The Secret that had me completely flabbergasted.

The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight.

Why this is under “self-help” and not “science fiction” beats me.

The author goes on to write:

Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can. You most likely know of someone who is thin and eats like a horse, and they proudly declare, “I can eat whatever I want and I am always the perfect weight.” And so the Genie of the Universe says, “Your wish is my command.”

The Genie of The Universe??

Wait, there’s more!

Write out your perfect weight and place it over the readout of your scale. If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.

I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after reading that. In fact, I read it five times to make sure I was reading this correctly. Then, I just got very angry.

Apart from the disturbing notion that you should shield your eyes from overweight people (gee, because being overweight isn’t hard enough), this book completely discredits nutrition.

I certainly hope the millions of people who have bought into “the secret” aren’t fooling themselves into thinking they can eat whatever they want as long as they truly BELIEVE they can fit into their Size 2 jeans next month.

No matter how hard you wish, a Starbucks chocolate chip cookie will always add 400 calories to your day (that’s more than a medium order of Fries at McDonald’s, by the way). And, no, it is not possible to not give a second thought to what goes into your mouth and expect to be a walking image of perfect health.

I don’t know what’s worse – the implied “blame the victim” subtext (if you gained weight after eating pizza every night it’s because you just don’t truly believe in yourself) or the fact that the author, Rhonda Byrne, is making millions spreading such delusional concepts.

PS: Here is a great deconstruction of this massively popular book.

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