I’ve been thinking more and more lately about healthy eating, diets and weight loss, the information overload we are all exposed to and the continual exploitation by the media of people’s worries, fears and insecurities.
Watching a late night repeat of a Biggest Loser winner who had put most of his weight back on and has now lost it again reminded me of all the things I dislike so intensely about that programme and others in a similar vein (the USA version of Obese a Year to Save my Life being another), namely that anyone can lose weight in a severely restricted, controlled environment – in fact it would be hard NOT to lose weight when you have to completely suspend your real life and your decisions about food and exercise are completely taken away from you. The hard part is always losing weight or maintaining the loss whilst living a normal life, making everyday family decisions over food and dealing with normal life stress.
My complaint has always been that programmes like this and magazines publishing some z-list celebrity weight loss story only ever tell half a story and an airbrushed, edited, highly selective story at that. They simply don’t provide people with the real knowledge to make healthy choices and healthy decisions. So, what happens? People expect to lose weight overnight and are disappointed and demoralised when they don’t and those that do, often lose the weight on a restrictive diet and are surprised that it all goes back on again when they resort to their old eating habits.
The mass of information is just so confusing for most people that it’s all too complicated and difficult so they simply put off making a decision to change anything. I was sent a link yesterday about protein and the benefits of eating grass-fed meat and whilst I agree wholeheartedly that this is something we should all aspire to for both our own health and also for animal welfare reasons, it seems to be that for most people the first step should be to just improve the quality of their diets; cutting out processed junk and eating clean, healthy, seasonal (yes I think this is going to be a part of my campaign from now on), home cooked food. Food that doesn’t come in acres of plastic or cardboard, food grown locally and in season – why do we want to eat tasteless bland imported strawberries in December anyway – and food that is prepared and cooked in our own kitchens.
It seems to me that that sort of information just adds to the confusion and pressure that people are under; they don’t know where to start or they assume that to do the right thing means that their food bill will be astronomical so its far easier to stay doing what they do. I am so fed up at the conflicting advice the medical, scientific and fitness community pass out to the general public all wrapped up with a bow and entitled that ‘this really works’ whilst never admitting just how much they are paid for their book or by the pharmaceutical company. The absence of unbiased, easy to understand advice that the general public can comprehend means something has to fill the void and in the current climate, sadly its celebrity endorsed products.
I would really like to see better nutrition, health and well-being taught in schools – not as some lefty liberal right on hippie thing but properly taught. It’s all very well making sure our children can add up, spell and read but its unproductive if we aren’t teaching them how to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. As for fitness – as someone who completely HATED gym, games, PE or whatever you want to call it and who has produced two children who share my loathing for compulsory team sports, there has to be better way. There are simply thousands of physical activities that children can do so why on earth do we persist in the believe that the only ones that matter are Football, Rugby, Netball, Hockey or Track events? If we opened our childrens eyes to the all the amazing things they can do and actively encouraged them to take part surely we would have a) more olympic hopefuls and b) more world beating sports teams but more importantly we might just instill a life long love of exercise, fitness and healthy living.