Friday, 1 March 2013

Struggling to lose weight? It's not surprising...

Time to take a look at diet and weight.... neigh, not horse stuff again, I've nagged on enough about that on Hastings Battleaxe.
     Lets appeal for some truth, clarity and honesty.
     Since New Year, I have been trying to lose weight - with some success. I've reduced my food intake, cut out most rubbish and taken more exercise. I've lost around eight pounds, which can't be bad. I have excellent will-power when I set my mind to it, but can flag if I don't get the necessary results - like most people, I guess. I'm a bit overweight, but not massively so - I like to catch myself in good time.
     I have been faithfully entering the food I consume and the exercise I take on the Myfitness Pal app - which I must say, is absolutely fantastic - it lists just about every sort of food and every form of exercise known to humanity.  According to my totals, I should be losing over a pound a week, but I am not - so what is going wrong?
     The other week I was reading an article in the Guardian about the deceptive nature of the calorie values of the recommended portion sizes printed on food packets. They give you a misleading idea of what you are eating, because the suggested portions are so tiny. I thought pooh pooh, am too sensible to be caught out like that, but then decided to weigh my portion of breakfast muesli. I am a creature of habit, and eat the same breakfast for around a whole year, before suddenly tiring of the brand in question, and changing.  This year, it is Dorset Really Nutty. The recommended portion size is 45 grams. Unhelpfully, the packet only gives the calorie value of this size serving lumped together with semi-skimmed milk, as 229 calories.
     Today, I weighed out a 45 gram portion in my usual cereal bowl. Here it is in the photograph - a measly disc of muesli barely covering the bottom of the bowl. Of course my usual portion is not this small. I weighed my usual amount - a whopping 75 grams, with a calorie value of  342 calories with milk.
      Many food packets are incredibly unhelpful.
      Lets take Pringles as an example - one of my favourite naughty treats. A tube weighs 175 grams. We are told the calorific value of 100 grams, and of 30 grams, which apparently is a 'portion'.
     However they don't say how many chips are in an average tube, or in 30g. I limit myself to only five chips. To work out the calorie value of this amount, I either have to weigh my portion, or count the number of Pringles in the tube, followed by some long division sums, for which I need a calculator. Is the average person in the street going to bother with any of this? I don't think so.
     Here's a packet of pasta shapes.  On the packet (500g) it states that an uncooked 90 gram serving has 321 calories, while 100 grams has 357 calories.  I need a small serving of 50 grams, which corresponds to two tablespoons of cooked pasta..... and off we go again. Bring on the scales and the calculator, yawn, bore.
     Let's have a glass of wine. Now, am I thinking ml or fluid ounces? How much does this glass hold? How full is it? Is this variety of wine more or less fattening?
     Then we have the well-known low-fat but high sugar business....the so-called 'diet' foods that have more calories than normal stuff....
     Look at low rent women's magazines - the Bella, Closer, variety.  Z list celebrity women apparently come in 3 sizes: 'worryingly thin', 'celebrating her ample curves' with an occasional 'healthy size 10' thrown in for good measure. The pictured 'healthy size 10' woman varies in size depending on the nature of the article. If it is about 'worryingly thin' getting bigger, the woman will be a scraggy size 8. If the direction of travel is 'ample curves' to slimmer, the apparently size 10 woman will clearly be size 12 to 14.
    Given all this, is it any wonder that most woman are thoroughly confused about the relationship between what they eat and their size? That we aren't clear about what we are actually eating? That we don't know what a 'healthy weight' actually looks like? That many people just give up?

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