Last week I blogged about my need to lose weight and ‘reduce my wok’. I was hoping to put it off for a while – perhaps indefinitely – but this was not to be. My wife decided that the time had come for us both to lose some weight, so the matter was settled.
No sooner had we started on our weight loss mission than we came across a useful documentary on the subject – a Horizon special: ‘What’s the right diet for you?’
I promise that this is not going to become a blog where I frequently ramble on about dieting, but there was an aspect of the Horizon programme that I felt needed comment – an aspect which surely stepped across the line into psychological torture.
On the whole I thought the programme was very good: interesting, informative and, on the whole, based on what appeared to be good science; all apart from this one aspect that is.
The programme took a large group of very overweight people. This already made me feel better because by comparison with some I already felt positively waif-like.
Through a battery of tests, exercises and questionnaires they split the group into three different types of eaters, which they christened ‘feasters’, ‘constant cravers’ and ’emotional eaters’, with each group requiring a different type of diet. You can find out more about what that means and take the test to find out what type of eater you are here.
In case you are wondering, I come out about 50/50 between feaster and constant craver, so no wonder I have problems!
Anyway, so far so good.
The dieters were then sent off into the world to try to lose weight, but in subsequent programmes they were brought back and offered advice and subjected to further experiments to help identify how they could stick to their diets and why some people struggled more than others.
It was one of these tests that I had a problem with.
The test in question was to assess the value of eating breakfast.
It is a frequently repeated truism that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and that those who eat it are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t. Recently, however, I have heard this called into doubt and heard of tests showing that the only difference is that those who eat breakfast tend to consume more calories to the sum of whatever they had for breakfast.
Horizon decided to test the theory as follows. They split their dieters into two groups: one group was given a hearty cooked breakfast, the other was just given a glass of water.
Sometime later both groups were shown pictures of various foods and asked to rate them according to how much they wanted to eat them.
The group who had eaten breakfast chose significantly less fatty, calorific food than those who hadn’t, leading the researchers to conclude that those who ate breakfast would be better able to resist these poor choices during the rest of the day.
Fair enough, except for one important fact: those given the water were in the same room at the same time as those given the breakfasts.
They could see the breakfasts being eaten; they could smell the bacon. No wonder they all craved fatty calorific foods! I’m surprised the UN wasn’t called in over such a heinous contravention of the Geneva Convention.
This now causes me to question all of the research – what other crazy stuff was going on?
Nonetheless, my diet has started well – I managed to lose 4lbs in my first week, much to my wife’s chagrin as she is better behaved but lost less. I have to point out, however, that as an overall percentage of my body weight, it may not be as impressive as it sounds.
I promise to shut up about dieting now.