What happens when experts stick to their strengths (and the risks when they don’t)

A very wise dietitian once said to me – exercise experts and nutrition experts – like dentists and gynaecologists – they’re both brilliant but you wouldn’t want them swapping ends! How true a statement!

Social media has got the world talking about nutrition like never before. Generally as a population though we’re getting fatter. And even those of us getting thinner might be doing it with a confused look on our faces.

Everyone has the right to an opinion but when an opinion based on poorly interpreted evidence or no evidence whatsoever is banded around the internet as fact, those of us who know a little more than that get frustrated.

#LoseWeightforLove
continues on BBC 1 this evening – an example of where the fitness expert (Rick Shakes) and the nutrition expert (me!) stuck to their strengths but worked closely together to ensure a well- balanced, proportioned diet to support daily exercise routines and protection of lean muscle mass. The behavioural and clinical psychologists on the show worked on their specialist elements from rewiring the brain to be able to stomach vegetables to understanding and tackling issues behind low self -esteem.

To coincide with the show I felt inspired to share some requests – with the hope of enlightening some and as a form of therapy for myself! I feel very strongly whether ‘expert’ or ‘follower’ we are all so much better off if we play to our strengths.

Lets stop demonising nutrients

When we’re guided to avoid a certain food or worse still an entire food group – what do we ultimately replace it with and is it helpful or detrimental to our health?

Diet and nutrition survey data shows quite clearly that irrespective of our weight some of us are lacking key nutrients involved in all sorts of fancy metabolic pathways in the body – magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, iron, the list goes on. When whole food groups are off the table (quite literally!) the diet is likely to suffer. For example you can drink green smoothies and avoid carbs but you will struggle to meet your fibre needs with the green stuff alone. Combinations of healthy protein, wholegrain carbs and plenty of crunch are a dream for your metabolism but not necessarily for journalists looking for catchy headlines.

Lets stop glorifying coconut oil

Bottom line coconut oil is a saturated fat. High amounts of saturated fat are linked to heart disease because they increase cholesterol. Of course heart disease is multi factorial and not caused by a single dodgy reading but the sat fat and cholesterol link is rock solid. The proportion of fat in the diet is key, maximum 20g of our quota should come from saturated fat. A tablespoon of coconut oil is 12g saturated fat. Whilst I think we can let granny put butter on her toast, if you’re regularly trading unsaturated oils such as olive or sunflower for coconut oil or other saturated fats remember debated lack of harm is not the same as proven health benefit. Only extra virgin olive oil turns nasty at high temperatures so definitely don’t cook with that, otherwise you’re fine and the balance swinging more towards unsaturated fat is better for health full stop.

Whilst on the subject of saturated fat…

Lets understand dairy

Despite being high in saturated fat, dairy foods may be an exception as the matrix of other minerals these foods contain such as calcium and magnesium appear to support fat excretion and lower blood pressure (amongst other things), hence their cardiovascular protective qualities. Before you all whip out the cheese board though, portion size still reigns – a 30g portion of cheese contains about a third of your saturated fat quota for the day and contributes around 125 kcals. You can chase a babybel down a hill daily if you want to (good exercise too) – but if you’ve managed all your trivial pursuit segments in a single sitting that’s a little too much! As for yogurt, that aisle is worthy of another blog entirely!

Lets stop ‘cleaning’ everything

I read on a fitness blog recently that I should only eat clean carbs – rice, sweet potato and quinoa of course. The poor old King Edward is grumbling along with me as it’s left on the shelf. Sweet potato might release a little slower but when do you ever eat a plain potato on its own? The makeup of the whole meal is far more important. And as for quinoa – yes a valuable source of all the essential amino acids but I’m not sure it deserves monarch status. Pasta apparently isn’t clean – it’s 100% wheat – maybe that’s why it’s evil…which leads me onto…

Lets stop promoting everything #free

It’s gluten free – so what – so is this table I’m leaning on and I don’t think that’s very healthy for me to eat! Gluten free is an essential way of life for some for medical reasons – but it is not synonymous with what is proven to be healthier.

Lets stop treating everyone like an athlete

Yes portion size of macronutrients needs to be considered but the vast majority of people looking to lose weight and sustain it don’t need to cycle their nutrients. The brain needs a steady supply of carbohydrate (~130g per day) – saving your carb quota for a big lunch by having slightly less at breakfast is one thing but zipping your mouth shut at 6pm for fear of carbs heading to your hips at 6.01pm is just ridiculous. For more carb myths check out my blog via honestmum.com
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What to believe I hear you cry…

I’m crying with you trust me. When experts appear on the surface to contradict each other what hope do we have. The National Obesity Forum this week seem to have had their own agenda going on and have been strongly revoked by the experts. Read more here

According to Mr Obesity Forum the guidelines don’t work. That’s why we’re all getting fatter?! Of course they don’t work – most people don’t follow the damn guidelines!

At present we appear to have a biological incapability to cope with our toxic obesogenic environment – that’s the main issue but science is working on it… and whilst it does enjoy the show!

 

Image courtesy of BBC/ GERAINT WARRINGTON/RENEGADE PICTURES

 

 

 

 

 

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