Why diets don’t work, problem 3: Hormone hell

Hardcore crash dieters are probably familiar with this phenomenon. They diet stringently, purging all unnecessary calories, for a few days. Maybe even a week. Then, suddenly, appetite becomes overwhelming and the dieters lose control. They binge on whatever they can get their hands on: a bucket of chicken, an econo-size bag of cookies, or what the hell, a block of Crisco. They feel like the biggest, most out of control pig in the world, and indeed they have temporarily lost control of their eating behaviour.

Why diets don’t work, problem 2: Muscle munching

When people drastically reduce their calories, as in most crash diets, the body first turns to muscle breakdown to make up the difference. The same thing happens in most cases of caloric reduction where exercise is not performed in conjunction with dieting. In other words, if you diet without exercising, or if you diet too stringently, your body eats through its muscle tissue.

Why diets don’t work: introduction

In terms of cultural history, there has never before been a society like ours in North America. We sit in the midst of plenty, yet we obsess about starving ourselves. Our supermarket shelves groan under the weight of every conceivable kind of food, yet it is considered grossly self-indulgent to consume too much of it. Our cravings are not proudly declared, but furtive, embarrassed: we cram a fudge brownie or two on the sly, we make midnight runs to the convenience store for Oreos, we secretly fantasize about cheesecake. All the while we lament our lack of willpower, our inability to stay “on a diet”, our ballooning midsections. We say that we hate the Celebrity Model Du Jour for being so skinny, but privately we know we would walk over broken glass to spend even an hour in a slender body, because that is what our culture values. With these contradictory messages it’s easy to see why so many people have very complicated feelings around food, fat, and dieting.

The worst part is, the damn diets don’t even work! How is that for wasted effort?

Diets 101 part 2: Learning the basics

Think of a good diet as simply assembling blocks of Lego. These blocks are macronutrients, portion size, overall caloric intake, and meal frequency.

Dieting 101: Introduction and spotting the scams

Lowcarb diets, no-carb diets, low-fat diets, Atkins, Protein Power, cabbage soup diets, grapefruit diets, Paleolithic diets… can’t a girl just get some plain old eating any more? How to separate the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the fat.

Basic nutrition

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”

The basics of how to eat nutritiously. Meet your friends, the macronutrients!