Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #142: “I’m Sorry…” Confessions of a Former Weight Loss Consultant


Recently, I came across a blog at HuffPost Women with a title that piqued my interest. The title was “An Open Apology to All of My Weight Loss Clients.” The apology was originally posted on Your Fairy Angel, the website of Iris Higgins, a “certified hypnotherapist, past life regression specialist, and women’s health coach.” Her mission now: “helping women to rediscover the magic in their lives.” That sounds pretty good to me.

Ms Higgins opens her confession with, “I worked at a popular weight loss company for three years…” She continues, “I’m sorry that I put you on a 1,200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy.” Now she really had my attention. I personally eat a 1,200 calorie a day diet, and I weigh probably twice what she and most of her past and present clients do, and I’m very healthy (besides being a type 2 diabetic for 27 years). Is she going to tell her former clients that that is an unhealthy practice? Well, she does, but as my readers know, a calorie is not just a calorie.

 As we’ve said often here, all calories are not alike. The body metabolizes the calories of different foods differently, according to their macronutrient composition. A carbohydrate calorie is not processed (digested and used) the same as a protein calorie or a fat calorie. If you are not clear on this yet, watch this new video or read my earlier expositions on the subject. A list of my columns can be seen in the upper right hand corner of my blogs.

Higgins’ confession, though, is sincere, if also motivated to promote her current occupational endeavors. That’s okay, and I agree with her premise: “that you’ve been played.” “And that’s why I’m sorry,” she says, “because I’ve been played for years…” “And it wasn’t just the company [her employer] feeding them [lies] to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients.”

She sold her clients food that helped them “lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure,” she wrote. “You became a repeat client, and we kept you in the game.” Hmmm… Sounds like what I described in #141 here and what Jacques Peretti wrote in The Guardian here (thanks Beth Mazur at Weight Maven) and that the BBC has chronicled in their compelling new series beginning here, also brought to my attention by Beth.

Ms Higgins’ main thrust is that most of her clients were not really overweight. This is one of the main points that Peretti makes: obesity was redefined by the World Health Organization some years ago with the result that many of her clients obsessed over losing a few pounds to satisfy their mothers or some other societal pressure to conform to an artificially created norm of what is considered a “healthy” weight. Amen to that! BMI be damned, I say.

Anyway, my main disappointment with this blog by Ms Higgins came when she failed to recognize the cause for the eating patterns and yo-yo weight swings of her clients. “When,” she asks, “did we become ‘professional dieters.’”? “I’m sorry because I get it now,” she says (wrongly). “If you’re trying to starve your body because you’re eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back” (my emphasis).

Calories are not the problem, I say. The macronutrient composition of the diet is. What your body does with the calories that you eat – burn them or store them – is the issue. The quality of the calories you eat is the issue; by this I mean the degree of processing and the nutrient density. And the quantity of low-quality processed carbohydrate “foods” that we eat is the problem. Avoiding these processed and manufactured “foods” is the solution. And here, at the end of her “confession,” is where Ms Higgins finally gets in right. She concludes, “Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.”  That’s really good advice.

Of course, if you’re seriously overweight (obese or morbidly obese), and you have health issues (hypertension, ‘high cholesterol,’ elevated triglycerides or low HDL, or just creaky knees, to name just a few), you can lose weight naturally by following Ms Higgins’ advice, tweaked only to eat many fewer carbohydrates, moderate protein and high fat. By changing only the type of foods you eat, you will lose weight without stress and without hunger. The LCHF Way of Eating will achieve all of the health benefits listed above at a minimum, as well as mitigate or ameliorate other health issues. Real food, unprocessed and unmanufactured, is higher in bio-available nutrient value than the refined “foods” that dominate the boxes and bags on supermarket shelves. And they have no added sugars, and many fewer “natural sugars” or carbohydrates that break down in digestion to simple “sugars,” primarily glucose and fructose.

As I say here often, pick up a loaf of bread in a cellophane wrapper in any supermarket and read the label. I’ll wager that the 3rd ingredient in any loaf, after flour and water, is some form of sugar (sucrose, HFCS, molasses, barley malt, etc.). I challenge you. Check out your favorite “high fiber” or “whole grain” loaf. You’ll see I’m right. Then, start reading labels.

I make no brief for or against hypnotherapy, past life regression analysis or rediscovering the magic in your life. They may indeed be good pursuits. But if you need to lose weight (only if you really need to), you might try a LCHF WOE. It’s a no-hunger way to eat 1,200 nutrient dense calories a day and be healthy. The rest of the energy your body needs will come from your fat stores. Don’t get played!

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