I had been looking forward to viewing Jacques Peretti’s BBC2 TV documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, as I appreciated how, in his previous series The Men Who Made Us Fat he examined the historical links between the agrichemical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries and scientific research establishment going back >50 years. He interviewed many of the major nutrition scientists including giants such as John Yudkin who helped to demonstrate the relationship between sugar consumption, increases in tryglycerides, diabetes and weight gain. He also teased out the reasons for fructose becoming such a ubiquitous ingredient in many foodstuffs.
In the documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, despite interviewing and documenting hugely important and interesting giants of the slimming and weight loss industry, including founders of Slim Fast and Weight Watchers, physicians including the now deceased Dr Robert Atkins and Dr Pierre Dukan, Peretti stuck to his often-repeated conclusion / verdict about the Diet Industry – that it is a con, doomed to failure.
According to Peretti, and he presented innacurately presented statistics to attempt to prove his thesis, dieters are destined to fail. People will initially lose weight if they engage in a program limiting their caloric intake. When, however their weight falls to their normal weight, or if they perceive themselves to be in ‘starvation’ mode, they will eat more to compensate and thereby gain weight. There was a very interesting research study from the 1940s with hundreds of dieters confined to a type of institution, their diet strictly controlled and their metabolisms monitored. They began to suffer psychologically and perceived themselves to be starving that some of them even attempted suicide.
However, Peretti argued that all diets are a con trick; that most people are destined to re-gain the weight they lost – and more – and that the diet is at fault. In a discussion with Daniel Abraham – Founder of Slim Fast and still going strong at age 90, Abraham hit this argument on the head, refuting Peretti’s charge that diets are a con and destined to fail, but stating that it is people’s motivation, their attitudes, their continuing to weigh themselves with scales and attempt to self-monitor their behaviour which will dictate success or failure, not a ‘diet’ substance of regimen per se.
I have lost >50 lbs – >3.5 stone – over the past 2 years. I hadn’t realized how much I weighed as I hadn’t weighed myself over several decades. Granted, my clothes size had gone from size 14 to 18, even 20; it was only when I got on a set of scales and realized what I weighed that I determined to lose weight.
I haven’t used any commercial regime or formula; I analyzed what I had been eating, decided to cut out cakes, muffins and sweets, limit my bread intake to 2 slices of wholemeal toast per day, halve my wine to 1/2 small glass per day and only have 1/2 glass of orange / mango juice in the morning. Other changes involved poached rather than fried egg in the morning. However, overall, I eat normally, still have vegetables, some potatoes, butter on my toast, but gone are the cakes, muffins and sandwiches I used to eat.
It took about 20 years to gain this weight, and it has been very slow to come off, perhaps 1-2 lbs per month; but the result is fantastic. I am now a size 14 and I really like what I see in the mirror.
Like many people, I have experienced diets and weight loss throughout my life and had been subjected to nasty comments during my adolescent and very sporty early life. I am obviously a highly disciplined individual and capable of deferring the transient pleasure of some naughty dessert or other calorific food by forward thinking that I will be upset when I next weigh myself and gain 1-2 lbs. And that I will have to spend weeks getting back to where I was before. So I don’t do it.
But I would never blame failing to lose weight on a faulty recipe or regimen – but on my own lack of control, will power and gluttony.