To diet; or not to diet – what do you think?

There are many people who believe wholeheartedly in dieting; then there are those people who do not.  As a nutritionist I am not against it, but I will not prescribe any form of strict dieting unless there is a medical reason for it.

Throughout the years many people jumped on the bandwagon and wrote books on all kinds of diets – Paleo, Atkins, Banting, to name a few.  The only problem with diets like these, I believe, is that they restrict / cut out certain food groups and up the intake of other food groups (for example in Banting you cut out carbohydrates but eat a lot more protein).

I was listening to Dr. Mike on YouTube not so long ago, where he actually went on one of these quick, crash diets himself.  What he said, in a nutshell, is that if you want to lose weight quickly, then going on a crash diet can work.  He even went on a Banting diet – after a month, he said, he did lose weight.  However, his cholesterol levels were sky high (due to the huge amounts of protein that he had to consume).  Although he had more energy, he said that he craved a lot of other food, because he wasn’t getting all the necessary nutrients in.

So, here’s my take on it:  when I struggled with my sinuses and weight as a teenager, I cut down on the carbohydrates.  It wasn’t until I found out that I was wheat intolerant, that I changed the type of carbohydrates I ate.  For example, when I buy pasta, I always look for a product that is made from semolina (durum wheat semolina).  The semolina is a finer wheat, as the hard-outer shell is removed, which makes it easier to digest.

As I have mentioned before, I am not against the idea of dieting, it is the type of diet that people go on, that I don’t agree with.  As a nutritionist I believe that people must get as many of the necessary vitamins and minerals in from the food they consume.  Unfortunately, due to all the pesticides, antibiotics, gmo’s, and so forth, that are used in food stuffs today, unless it is free range or organic, we don’t necessarily get all the nutrients in.  Thus, we can take supplements for that (and again I am not advising anyone to rely solely on supplements)!

I must also add that I agree with Dr. Mike.  I had patients who came to see me after their doctor told them to quit Banting asap.  Why?  Not only were their cholesterol levels high (something not found in their family, and they were under 55 years), their livers couldn’t digest all the protein-acid that built up because they ate a lot of meat, and the one patient (under the age of 40), were diagnosed as pre-diabetic (not something that run in their family)! Another patient also had to re-introduce carbohydrates in his diet, as his body was “eating” his muscles. The thing is, your digestive tract cannot digest protein (therefore extract the necessary nutrients from it) without the help of carbohydrates. Protein can only be digested if you eat carbohydrates as well, as the enzymes necessary to do the job, is only find when carbohydrates and protein are eaten together! When you cut out carbohydrates from you meals, protein-acid builds up. As in the case with the two patients, the liver becomes “intoxicated” from all this acid – not healthy at all!

To sum it all up:  above is just my take of diets.  I believe the best “diet” is to eat everything in moderation (except if you are allergic or intolerant of course).  The Mediterranean lifestyle is a good example of a balanced eating plan, as is Weight Watchers and Weigh Less.  Eating from all the food groups not only provides your body with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs, but it will also help your body to maintain the right pH-levels.  In the “good old days” there wasn’t something like dieting:  people ate what was available, they ate in moderation, but the secret to their success?  They were active!!

So, have your pizza, have a burger, have that chocolate cake and milkshakes. But do it in moderation! Try to cook your meals more often than eating ready-made meals or takeaways (these are often not healthy at all because they contain extra salt and hidden sugar). And don’t forget; put on your takkies and get moving!

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