“These assumptions become the source of our perceived opinion of ‘healthiness’, intensifying concepts that hardly have a share in sustainable weight management strategies.”
The term ‘diet’ is ambiguous. Meaning, it can’t be attributed to a specific form of caloric intake and represents a host of different, yet similar, nutritional interventions. The similarity coexists with the beliefs that form the basis of all the diets in the market. This similarity is rather hidden, unlike the more evident presence of assumptions about the usefulness of a diet, leading to an opinionated understanding of the working of dietary interventions. A good example will be the fixation with specific foods that individually cause weight loss or weight gain. It’s a common practice that accounts for the majority of nonsensical advice there is to be found in most Indian households.
A recently published lifestyle article in the newspaper sums up my observation of nutritional advice in India, as it describes a real-life scenario where a 15-year-old loses 37 kilos in 9 months after following a ‘special immunity strengthening diet’ structured by his mom. Spoiler alert; be prepared to receive dietary advice from an excited fifteen-year-old with no background in nutrition whatsoever. Although the story presents a plot worth a TV show, it successfully manages to provide its readers with hokum dietary practice and some cliched tips. With the everlasting presence of unreasonable restrictions and the obsession with removing the so-called ‘fat-causing components’ of a meal, this article leaves no stones unturned. These assumptions become the source of our perceived opinion of ‘healthiness’, intensifying concepts that hardly have a share in sustainable weight management strategies.
Personal experiences are what people attribute to statistically significant results, which leads to opinionated and not evidence-based advice. We Indians call it ‘Nuskhas’ and share a rather unhealthy relationship with them. Almost halfway through the article when I was about to quit reading, a “Nuskha” took me by surprise; It is an advice to all to start detesting bad things and register that into your subconscious. I felt a tickle in my subconscious and realised that after three years of training as a sports scientist I still haven’t registered anything close to this advice in any of the three types of consciousness that are present as described by ‘Sigmund Freud’.
“Society’s obsession with these made-up classifications is fascinating, standing right behind the even more amusing subject of the spread of such beliefs travelling through the minds of billions.”
A repeated lie becomes the truth?
The only thing you should be registering is the overlooked concept of moderation. Most people believe and in most cases are reminded quite concerningly that the complete removal of some parts of their diet is essential to discover a healthier means of living. Essentially mistaking consumption of a single meal or ingredient as the culprit and not the net calories consumed. This ‘eliminate culture’ advocates from the sporting world to the obnoxiously fake “genetically gifted” celebrities that transform bodies at will. Oblivious to calorie manipulation, these naive faces of brands and products mistake their enthusiasm for fitness as a ticket to a gullible journey of life with an everlasting health, forgetting that it takes more than few weeks of sweaty gym trips to understand nutrition. It’s an amalgamation of pieces of information from various sources with a pinch of their imagination of a healthy lifestyle, but rarely it comes close to reality and yet appears more realistic than the far more plausible rationale from a peer-reviewed article.
For example, my favourite is the good food-bad food conundrum. Society’s obsession with these made-up classifications is fascinating, standing right behind the even more amusing subject of the spread of such beliefs travelling through the minds of billions. Much like the game of Chinese whispers, the idea of bad foods has journeyed numerous intellects and has found a different meaning well suited to the perception of the person processing the information. In other words, what we have today is a distorted and tainted version of what could have been a practical piece of advice from someone worthy of providing it. A repeated lie has indeed become the truth.
“A life filled with irrational constraints is depressing and radiates nothing but a pattern of life undesirable.”
Diet we need to follow!
To start with, having an understanding of calorie manipulation is a must. To say that your regular calorie intake has led to fat loss means that your body’s expenditure surpasses its regular consumption of calories. This here underpins all the “fat loss” diets. It also signifies the following, let’s say, a ketogenic meal plan will not result in loss of fat unless the net calories consumed are in a deficit. It’s the consumption of calories that matters and not the popular diet itself. Call it what you may, a diet’s eventual fate is determined by its calorie distribution and not by the fancy name attributed to it.
By tracking calories, an idea of a person’s regular intake can be established, which can then be compared alongside their maintenance calories to figure out the long term effect of any dietary pattern. This approach is foolproof and works on numbers determined by a decent formula, giving a hint of achievable weight management goals and not far-sighted improbable ones that are nothing but a selling point ( lose 20 kgs in three months).
Harris-Benedict calculator, which is one google search away, does the majority of work by providing a detailed description of your daily calorie needs. Your job is to track calories using a calorie calculator and see where your daily consumption of food lies. The idea is to keep an open mind when dealing with any aspect of weight management, giving considerable attention to not only the visual but the psychological side of it.
A life filled with irrational constraints is depressing and radiates nothing but a pattern of life undesirable. If you are of the kind that detests living a life full of flavours and finds restrictions fun, good for you. But if you are nothing of that sort and still wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you might find the idea of moderation more desirable. So, stop being hard on yourself and live life like it is supposed to be lived.
“Sarthak Kapoor is a third-year sport and exercise science student from Cardiff Metropolitan University who has started a brand with a fellow sports physiologist, that focuses on educating the locals about the importance of evidence-based practice in the sporting and health sector.”