What’s eating you about eating?

Could there be anything more personal to us than what we eat?

The above image is  approximately 10,000 calories of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and Texas toast available at the CowTown Diner in Fort Worth, Texas. It may inspire you to make a reservation, hop in the car and feast like a Cowboy King or it might cause you to seek out the comfort of a tasty carrot.  We all have our likes and dislikes and that is just fine.  What we like to eat is as personal and individual to us as our fingerprints.

I have created and led many different seminars on nutrition for general participants as well as part of the ongoing teacher’s training program at Balance Your Body Yoga.  Each time I teach one of these seminars it amazes me how much the basics of nutritional health are a mystery to most people and also how most of us want to be healthier in our eating habits.  What this tells me is that people have a thirst for information that can guide them into healthy ways of eating.  However, couple that thirst with a lack of knowledge of a scientific perspective on nutrition and you have a person who can be lead astray by the diet industry.

I have come across quite a lot of misinformation, bogus claims and outright lies in my ongoing research into nutrition.  The internet age is wonderful in that it can put a vast amount of facts and research at our fingertips, but is is less than wonderful in that there are no filters on the information.  Outright fabrication can stand next to scientific fact and they are both gleaming bright on one website or another.  How can we in the midst of an information overload tell the good from the bad.

That’s why I decided to create an overview of some of the diets and eating plans I have run across in my internet forays.  My goal is to give you, the reader, an insight into just what these eating regimes involve, what kind of scientific basis they have for their statements and how effective or practical these diets are to the average person.

I am starting this entry in honor of a seminar I love to teach.  If you are interested, please check out our Nutrition Seminars we are offer several times a year..  We created these seminars to give our participants a helping hand in understanding nutrition and how to choose a way of eating that is healthy for their personal lifestyle.  You really owe it to yourself to attend one of our lectures if you are at all interested in nutritional health, wanting to improve how you eat or are trying to lose weight or improve your exercise performance with diet.  

Here is the first of my closer looks at popular diets, starting with:

The Grapefruit Diet
 

What does this diet want you to do? 

Most versions of the Grapefruit Diet involve a small variety of foods that are eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and at bedtime. Grapefruit Dieters are encouraged to drink black coffee and plenty of water throughout the day.

Sample Meal Plan:
Breakfast
2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, black coffee, 1/2 grapefruit or 8 ounces grapefruit juice
Lunch
Salad with salad dressing, unlimited meat, and 1/2 grapefruit or 8 ounces grapefruit juice
Dinner
Red or green vegetables (except starchy ones such as peas, beans, corn, sweet potatoes) or salad, unlimited meat or fish, and 1/2 grapefruit or 8 ounces grapefruit juice
Bedtime snack
8 ounces skim milk

You are allowed all the butter and salad dressing you desire and  you can prepare your foods in any method, including fried. The grapefruit juice must be unsweetened. Any food or beverage not on the diet is not allowed. Snacking is only permitted after dinner. You are suppoed to drink 64 ounces of water daily and eat all of the approved foods.

How does this diet work?

Well, it limits your food intake to about 800 – 1000 calories per day.  If you reduce your calories to just 1000 per day you are definitely going to lose weight.  However, its claim of some special Grapefruit enzyme helping you burn fat is not proven in any scientific literature.  Now their is nothing wrong with grapefruit.  It is a very nutritious, low calorie fruit loaded with vitamin C and fiber.  It is just not some sort of nature’s ‘fat burning magic bullet’ in a peel like the diet claims that it is.

How is the diet harmful?

The diet is so restrictive it is not sustainable so it isn’t going to help you change your habits or behaviors that are causing you trouble with your weight in the first place.  It also has such a limited variety of foods that most will get bored with the monotony of it.  The weight loss created will typically be gained back again quickly, so the diet will not enhance a permanent change.  Yo-Yo dieting of this nature can actually cause additional weight gain because with any extreme calories restriction, the body loses muscle mass.  When we come off of such a diet the body responds as if in starvation and quickly works to regain the weight – usually in the form of body fat.  In the end, the ratio of body fat to muscle rises and total body metabolism drops.  That is a recipe for increasing a weight problem, not eliminating one.

How does this diet score on the Jbyrd diet scale? (10 being the best and 1 being the worst)

It scores a 2 on the scale of 1 to 10.  The only reason it does not get a 1 is because at least it has grapefruit. What we are looking for is a well-balanced, sensible, calorie-controlled diet, that includes a regular dose of physical activity — a scientifically proven way to burn fat and lose weight.   The Grapefruit Diet fails on this level.

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