Anyone here read the Diet-Blog? I am normally VERY skeptical of web sites covering anything-diet, I must say, but this one is not only extremely popular, but quite level-headed as well. Lots and lots of valuable info on new foods, diet plans, fitness issues, lose-weight-fast scams, body image, diet pills, fast food, and more. In short, everything you could ever want to know about all that.
I caught up with editor Jim Foster recently for a "brain dump" over here at DiabetesMine.com. Jim claims he's not an expert -- rather just an "Average Joe" trying to stay reasonably fit and healthy -- who calls on the collective knowledge of his editorial team. Still, he's garnered quite some kudos for his work at the Diet-Blog, "filtering the best of diet news and advice Ã¢€” and combining it with real-world application and opinion." Have a look at what he has to say:
Nutrition is individualistic. What works for me may not work for you. As a simple rule of thumb, I believe we should favor whole foods over highly processed foods. We have weight problems because we eat too much -- but in our defense -- we are surrounded by an abundant food supply mostly comprised of foods that are very easy to overeat!
Give us a sense of your approach to carbs: good carbs, bad carbs, low carbs, no carbs?
Carbohydrate-based foods are cheap. Next time your are eating at a "large-portioned" restaurant -- look at what fills your plate. Highly refined carbs are easy to overeat and often lack the satiety of certain fats and proteins. Recent data has shown that sweetened soft drinks contribute 10% of all calories in the American diet.
So, having said this, I feel we tend to eat too many refined carbs and sugars. However, nutritional advice for the last few decades has focused exclusively on fat. Someone forgot to mention that we also need to moderate carbohydrate intake.
As for heavily restricting carbs, I believe there is a place for it in certain situations. And rather than being a target for derision -- a controlled-carb approach needs to be offered as an option -- particularly to those with any blood sugar issues.
I have my own experiences with this: I struggled with hypoglycemia for years. A nutritionist advised that I needed to be snacking and grazing more throughout the day. The suggested snacks were all carbohydrate-based foods. My symptoms persisted until I began to include a strong protein component in my snacks. Now the glucose wasn't hitting my body in a rush, and it helped to balance out the wild blood sugar swings.
The "eatwell plate" you featured from the UK food authorities seems to recommend a very large proportion of carbs. Are you on board with that?
I'm not out to antagonize public health authorities - however I feel we as consumers don't need any encouragement to eat more carbs. If anything we need more education on the different kinds of carbohydrates - and the impact on satiety.
Do you have a party line on exercise? Which type and how much is best?
Again -- whatever works for you. I believe exercise is essential for good physical and mental health, although I suspect at times we tend to overstate the effect of exercise on weight loss. We also tend to focus on a narrow style of exercising (think 60 minutes on a treadmill, or a "bodybuilder-type" workout consisting of 3 sets of 8-10 reps performed slowly). There is an astonishing variation of exercise technique out there. Mixing it up a little can help keep the boredom away. See HERE.
I don't know about sorting out the big fat liesÃ¢€¦ :-) but there is plenty of murky misinformation out there. The advertising budget of a single food manufacturer probably impacts more people than any well-meaning government or NGO initiative. As consumers we need to constantly challenge the beliefs that we have about food and weight. In terms of products and diets, myself and the other writers just try to present both the pros and cons and leave it up to the reader to discuss and decide. That's why blogging is such a great platform for these sorts of issues. It's an ongoing conversation. Many times I or one of the writers have made a misstep with one of our posts, and the readers will quickly put it right by chiming in with their point-of-view in the comments section.
You talk a lot about body image on the blog. What's your basic philosophy on that?
Turn on the TV: what sort of people do you see? Mostly very thin ones. Look at the statistics: what do you see? Over 65% of Americans are overweight. We have a strange paradox at work here. Popular culture is obsessed with being slim and yet most of us are anything but. That would imply that there are an awful lot of people who feel they fail to live up to the kind of physical image that society prescribes.
When self-esteem plunges we become victim to all kinds of dangerous behaviors, from semi-starvation diets to dodgy diet pills. The more we focus on trying to look a certain way, the less satisfied we become.
I advocate pursuit of wholeness and health. Constantly chasing the ever-changing standards of physical beauty is a no-win situation. Let's go after a strong, healthy, and functional body instead -- you never know -- you may find that a side-effect of that goal is a body that you can look at in the mirror without shame.
Is guilt a big issue? Do your readers share their struggles?
Some of the comments that hit the blog from young women are very sobering indeed. There is a powerful culture of self-hate out there, particularly among teens. Then there is the obsession with food. Whenever we follow a regimented eating plan, guilt and obsession are never far away. Rather than seeing some comfort foods as evil, find a way to incorporate those foods into our (overall healthy) diet -- typically by eating small portions very slowly.
If you could only recommend one or two books to help people with diabetes eat right, which would it be?
So many books -- so little time! A few favorites: Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating and Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I know these aren't specifically about diabetes, but they address some of the issues we have with modern food consumption.
Thank you, Jim, for this good sober reality check.