One of the things that I’ve noticed while I’ve been on this getting fitter and healthier thing is the amount of conflicting studies and advice out there.
Someone said to me once “well, it’s simple isn’t it? Calories in should be less than calories out. That’s all there is to it”. I don’t remain convinced that’s all there is to it. They say that men burn 2500 calories per day and women 2000. Says who? Based on what? It’s an average – right? So, if you have a slow metabolism (for whatever reason) surely you’ll burn less than that? And if you’re overweight, the chances are that you’ll burn more calories on a daily basis by virtue of the excess pounds.
Then there’s the whole makeup of your diet. I’m not talking about “diet” in the “diet to lose weight” sense but in the sense of the composition of your food intake. There are studies that say:
keep the carbohydrates low, your body will burn more fat
don’t cut your carbs – you need them to function on a daily basis
keep your protein intake high when exercising hard to prevent muscle loss
too much protein is bad for you
drink lots of water and stay hydrated
there is such a thing as over-hydration – make sure you don’t drink too much
keep away from processed foods
keep your sugar intake down (most people actually seem to agree on these two, unless you ask any company which is actively involved in processing foods which contain lots of sugar and other chemicals)
keep away from saturated fat
you need saturated fats in moderation
And don’t get me started on the fad diets. I gave up on “diets” in my teens when I realised what a pile of crap most of them are. I know that they work for some people but, in my case, until I changed my relationship with food, nothing was going to have an effect in the long term and until I was truly happy with myself and comfortable in my own skin, there was little point in changing the outside of me.
The internet is a wonderful place for research. The only problem is trying to separate the truth from fiction. There are reports of studies for pretty much anything but to get to the truth of those studies, you have to find out who’s been funding them. For instance, would you trust any study that says sugar is good for you if you found out it had been funded by a sugar producing giant? Or a study which “proved” there was no harm from GMO foods if you found out it was funded by one of the agri-giants? (actually I wouldn’t trust any study that said GMO food was good for you but that’s another story).
Grass fed, corn fed, organic, non-GMO, additive free, preservative free : it’s so difficult to make informed choices about what to buy and what to eat.
Nowadays I try to eat as balanced a diet as I can. I try and find ways of incorporating the vegetables that I don’t like into my recipes in a way that gives me the benefit without the taste being obvious.
I avoid processed foods (I’ve noticed they have an adverse effect on my digestion), refined grains and flours (same thing) and my tastebuds are gradually changing so that the things that I used to think were irresistible (like freshly toasted white bread) are no longer so appealing. I do my best to avoid fast food (recent articles on what my previously-favourite burgers consist of was enough to sicken me to the point that I’ll never go near another burger chain) and I continue to try and educate myself with as much impartial advice as I can find. Which isn’t easy.
Chocolate however is a whole other ballgame. That particular addiction of mine is proving one of the most difficult to kick. But I’ll get there. Eventually.