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Big Fat Lies
It isn’t often that you can say that a book can change your life.
And when the book is called Big Fat Lies, How the Industry is making you Sick, Fat and Poor by David Gillespie – I really wasn’t expecting much more than a simple discourse on the diet industry.
I mean I know what I am supposed to eat, and how to keep the weight off? Surely I do? I am an intelligent woman who has been taught good nutrition, I am well read and I know my own mind. Unfortunately, I am also a woman who is quite secretive about food, who comfort eats and most certainly is not in control of what and how she eats. I find it impossible to get through watching a programme on TV without wandering into the kitchen in the ads to find biscuits or, the Holy Grail, chocolate. I have a habit of running the milk out so I can just ‘pop down the road for a minute’ and eat two chocolate bars on the way home. I miss breakfast (and I so know I shouldn’t) and often eat a frantic lunch of whatever I can get at about 2pm; way after a headache has already started.
The weight was always pretty easy to keep off, but something happened in my 40’s – and I am pretty sure it is when my nuttiness about sweet things really took off – and now my dress size has slowly crept up from the 12 I was for my 30s to a 16. I think I had pretty much fooled myself into thinking I am OK with my size, as I know I will never be the size 10 I was when I married. But as the size 16 ticked by I realized that there was no stopping the weight. I was just going to keep getting bigger. I am really fine if you put me on a diet, I can follow it to the letter, but leave me on my own, in an unguarded pantry, and I just can't control myself. Sigh. I was intrigued to see if this book was going to have any thing different to say about food and dieting. There are so many diets around: Lemon Detox, Atkins, Food Combining, Low fat, Low Carb, High protein, Low GI, Raw Food, Vegan, etc. etc. I even found a diet called the Hallelujah Diet from the 70s where people ate what the bible told them – and I do know there are a number of current variations of this!
Because I am so committed to the cause, I decided I would try and eat as the book recommends. Gillespie maintains that a lot of the information that we have had over the years is fundamentally flawed. The reasons for this are complicated, and the science behind it too much to go into in a review, but basically he believes the following points. He believes that diets don’t work, exercise DOESN’T help you lose weight and that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. These are completely opposing ideas to what many of us have been bought up with.
The main enemy, in his eyes, is sugar.
He believes that without sugar messing up our internal eating clock (as it were), we would eat what our bodies need, when our bodies need it. Removing sugar is one hell of a tall order, but I decided if I was going to do this, I had to do it properly. The supermarket becomes one big minefield with just about everything being made more palatable with a sprinkling of sugar. Peanut butter has sugar in it, biscuits, chocolate, wine - good lord the list is endless. David Gillespie says “If I asked you to go to the supermarket and make me a list of food that did not have sugar in it, you would need a postage stamp to write on and you would still have room for the Lord’s Prayer.” I like the man’s sense of humour – and it comes through nicely in his writing.
What he says is basically you can only eat around the outside of the supermarket – fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat. No fruit juice (that is cheating – no-one eats 8 oranges in a sitting and juice is all fructose), no wine, no sweets, no baking and most of all no chocolate. I thought it was going to be the worst 4 weeks of my life. In fact it pretty nearly was. My body was so used to the amount of sugar it was consuming, that I got a headache on the very first day that continued unabated for pretty much 4 weeks. I thought I was going to go spare.
By the end of week 5 things got a whole heap better. I stopped stalking the house for sugary things, I only now eat 3 times a day, and this is plenty. I even eat smaller meals when I do eat. I have butter on my bread; I eat cottage cream and cheese (which I never used to eat thinking they would make me fat). I have porridge in the morning with full cream milk. Not a lot of it – just enough. I only use olive oil, and good old-fashioned beef rendered fat to fry things. And I eat masses and masses of vegetable and fruit.
The thing I have noticed is that I am a lot thirstier. I think I always was, it was just that it was easily confused with a sweet tooth. Now I have a drink of water and the craving (which it isn’t really) just goes away. He also believes (as I always have) that drinking 8 glasses of water a day is a complete myth. Drink when you feel thirsty.
I have suffered from migraines and headaches all my life and have had none since week four (I am now week eight). I am sleeping well, and able to concentrate better. And the by-product of it all is that I have dropped 7 kgs and I am still going. I haven’t felt like I am on a ‘diet’ because I am not. Is it hard to maintain? Yes in the sense that there is no stepping off this for me. Sugar is just not good for me AT ALL. I am better without it. I have found a way around most things (I take my own popcorn to the movies and I drink gin with diet tonic now). It simply means we eat a lot of meat and vegetables and just about NO processed foods at all. It feels a lot like what we ate when I was a kid.
If any of this resonates with you, then you need to read the book – I even got my smart husband to read the book (my brain started to hurt a little with all the technical information) and it made sense to his very logical brain. Big Fat Lies: How the diet industry is making you Sick, Fat and Poor by David Gillespie is published by Penguin books. It is available now and is just $37.
By Anya Brighouse
6 July 2012