So yesterday the NHS announced it will be referring overweight britains to subsidised Weight Watchers, Slimming World or Rosemary Conley diet clubs-aaaaarrrrggggghhhh! This has been the Personal Trainers version of the who killed Tina in corrie scandal this week. We’ve all been ranting about it on social media, in the gym and anywhere else we can force people to listen.
I’m going to try very hard not to go into a complete rant about this but unfortunately it’s stuff like this that really gets my back up. And this topic could take several blogs for me to hit every point that irritates me about it.
We as a nation have been rapidly getting fatter since the 1980’s with 2 thirds of men and just over half of women classed as obese. Worryingly our children are also now climbing the obesity ladder setting them up for a life of inevitable type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer……….need I go on.
So over the years the government has scratched its head over what is possibly causing this and how they can fix it. Is it our lack of activity now so much of our lives are spent sat at desks, TV’s, games consoles? We drive everywhere, can have our weekly shop delivered and basically have no reason to leave the house unless we choose to.
So the government has decided that sending the overweights to a group meeting where you are taught that all food has a points/calorie etc. value (that doesn’t necessarily stack up against it actual nutritional value) and as long as you stay inside this allocated points value all will be well, doesn’t matter if you used it up on curly wurlys as long as the points add up that’s fine.
Starting with Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers ex-financial director himself stated that they have a 16% success rate and the other 84% is where they make their money as people keep paying to go back! 16%!!!!! So essentially the whole business model is based on failure, if it had a 90% success rate it would go bankrupt as people would have no reason to spend their money there time and time again..
And whilst they are giving you your allocated point’s value they are promoting their own branded products, classing them as actual food! Now call me strange (you won’t be the first) but I like to think of my food as something that has grown, lived etc. and is therefore recognisable as a food product.
So by example here is an ingredients list for a weight watchers Shepherd’s Pie ready meal. I have highlighted in red the various forms of sugar used, I could go into the other chemicals in there but I will save that for another day, another chemistry lesson.
Reconstituted Potato (51%, Water, Potato Flake, Preservative – Sodium Metabisulphite), Water, Beef (11%), Onions, Carrots (6%), Concentrated Tomato Puree, Peas (2%), Diced Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Firming Agent – Calcium Chloride), Modified Tapioca Starch, Concentrated Beef Stock (Beef Stock, Water, Maltodextrin, Salt, Palm Fat, Vegetable Concentrates (Onions, Carrots, Celery, Celeriac), Tomato Concentrate, Chicory Fibre, Yeast Extract, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Herb and Spice Extracts, Spice), Worcester Sauce (Barley Malt Vinegar, Water, Treacle, Soya Sauce (Water, Soya Beans, Wheat, Salt), Brown Sugar, Salt, Lemon Juice, Colour – Plain Caramel, Anchovy Paste (from Fish), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Oil of Cloves, Tamarind, Garlic Extract, Chilli Pepper, Spirit Vinegar), Flavourings (contain Milk), Cream Powder (Cream Solids, Skimmed Milk Powder), Salt, Yeast Extract (contains Barley), Colour – Plain Caramel, Parsley, Spice Extract, Black Pepper,
Contains Gluten, Wheat, Barley, Milk, Soya, Fish, Celery, Celeriac, Sulphur Dioxide
A whole 11% beef-mmmm wait I thought Shepherd’s Pie was lamb but that’s the least of this dishes problems! You would need a chemistry degree to understand that lot.
When I make shepherd’s pie (ok when the lovely Mr A makes it as he does most of the cooking) it contains –
Lamb mince, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, stock and some butter, salt and pepper to taste. No chemistry lesson required?
So the NHS is advising us in the battle against the bulge to favour a company that promotes a myriad of chemicals over your local butcher and green grocer?
One first view Slimming World appears to get it right, breakfasts include eggs, bacon, fruit…..
But then they suggest as one of your “free foods” i.e. eat as many as you like, Muller Light Yoghurts.
Here is the ingredients list of said offending yoghurt (honestly I do find them offensive!)
Yogurt (Milk) Water Fructose Modified Maize Starch Lime Juice from Concentrate (0.5%) Coconut Milk Powder (0.5%) Gelatine Flavourings Stabiliser: Pectins Sweetener: Aspartame Acidity Regulators: Citric Acid Sodium Citrate
Aspartame!!!! Aspartame!!! Seriously, anybody who listens to me talk about diet foods will know that I hate this substance with a passion – potentially a whole blog on its own –which I’m sure you’re now looking forward to. Aspartame is addictive and been linked to several side effects including
Migraines, seizures, dizziness, numbness, muscle spasm, rashes, depression, fatigue, tachycardia, anxiety, heart palpitations, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, joint pain, insomnia, vision problems and wait for it you’re going to love this last one…………………..weight gain! It is basically a poison, and it is currently in most of our labelled diet/low fat foods which is why I always tell people to go full fat every time. There have been several campaigns over the years to have it banned but unfortunately I think the failure to do so proves the power of big business over what is right and wrong…….
So almost slimming world but not quite, I can’t agree with a company that will willingly promote poison.
Rosemary Conley – Now I have to admit back in the day she was a bit of an icon, I remember doing her hip and thigh video with my mum in the living room. I imagine the sight of me and my mum shuffling along the floor on our bums would look quite comical and yes that was an actual exercise!
Her approach on the weight loss club is to combine a weigh in meeting followed by an aerobic exercise class. Bravo someone spotted that exercise was a missing link in the other two. If I were forced at gun point to join one of these groups it would be this one, purely for the fact that she promotes exercise and there are no chemicals in her branded ready meals. Although they do all contain sugar so I haven’t given them the green light.
However, once again it focuses on counting calories rather than considering the nutritional content of the food we are eating.
And this is where the problem lies. We are constantly surrounding by these marketing messages, low fat, low calorie, must be healthy for you because the packet says so-the clue that it’s not is probably the fact it’s in a packet. With this NHS scheme I think they have missed the point. We aren’t getting fatter because we don’t know how to count calories- I have a client who can tell me the calorie content of most foods (you know who you are) and still she struggles to lose weight! We have forgotten to consider what is in our food, and how this makes us feel, how this affects our bodies, how it helps it function, restore and repair.
I say this time and time again to my clients, if you know exactly where your food came from and what’s in it you can’t go wrong-no one ever had a weight problem over eating broccoli. And before I am accused of being part of the problem encouraging you to sit down and read at your lap top for large lengths of time I will leave it at that………………………..for now.