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Archives: 2008 September

September 2008

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Every day I’m lucky enough to speak face to face with a great variety of women and men about their health and diet problems, and each story is always fascinating in it’s own way.

One issue that seems to keep coming up is the problem of age and weight loss. As someone who is now definitely middle aged, I know as well as anyone how our bodies change and how frustrating it can be! What worked fine in our twenties suddenly seems to make us pile on the pounds later in life. A classic complaint I hear is from women who lost several stone on Weight Watchers or a similar calorie counting scheme a couple of decades ago, but now find that it just won’t work to shift their middle-aged spread.

Now, I do know two scientific certainties about age: both our metabolic rate and our levels of human growth hormone decrease. When you restrict calories in your youth, the higher metabolic rate combined with the active human growth hormone means that you can lose those extra pounds by just eating a little less. But for us oldies, the reduction in calories needs to be very dramatic to have much impact – our bodies sensibly adjust their metabolic rate to make the most of the reduced calories.

You might have some success if you team eating less with a very rigorous exercise routine, but of course age also makes this more difficult as our mobility and flexibility decrease. So shifting the emphasis from restricting calories to eating in a different way altogether is the one way to ensure a really bright, long future. I’ve been Going Lower as I get older – and I’ve never felt so young.

26 September 2008

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As the wife of a GP, I know that most GPs know very little about diet and nutrition. This isn’t a criticism, just a fact of life – I’m sure that most GPs would admit that their training simply doesn’t cover biochemistry to any great level of detail in relation to food. General medical training is by necessity broad, and biochemisty is a very specialist field.

What’s surprising is that we don’t see more biochemists involved in the obesity debate. All sorts of specialists from nutritionists and dieticians, to epidemiologists and nurses speak out publicly, but their training rarely involves studying biochemistry to the level truly required to understand how our bodies process carbs, proteins and fats.

Why all the emphasis on biochemists? Well, when I first started looking at the issue of weight control in depth, I found them to be the only people that could answer my difficult questions on how our bodies react to different food groups. Biochemists showed me that when the body takes in too much glucose it will turn that glucose into saturated fats, and that the foods that turn to glucose easily are starch and sugar. The ones I spoke to found it obvious that the levels of starch and sugar in our diet are directly impacting on obesity.

Basing the Go Lower programme on the advice of true experts seemed a basic principle to me. But when it comes to weight loss, it can seem revolutionary!

24 September 2008

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Despite what you might have heard, meat is definitely good for us. Poor old flesh gets a regular kicking; we’re often told that eating meat will kill us in the end, and probably destroy the planet too. Is there any truth in these rather extreme allegations?

I regard them as very unfair. Meat, as part of a balanced, healthy diet, has much to commend it. It’s rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3) and a natural source of essential amino acids. The key message is, buy good quality meat rather than cheap meat products.

As for claims that meat-eating is contributing to climate change, if you eat meat produced locally, the environmental impact is kept to the minimum. Since meat has natural satiety benefits – that is, it gives the eater a feeling of satisfaction – we tend to eat less of it. Again, with positive implications for the environment.

And let’s not forget that the meat industry is an integral part of the dairy industry. Our steaks, mince and chops are by-products of milk, cream, butter and cheese production.

As with most things, meat eating is all about balance , quality and consideration. But it can be a great move, both for your body and your conscience.

22 September 2008

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Last week, the President of the British Obesity Surgery Society John Baxter criticized what he saw as the ‘rationing’ of expensive obesity surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) on the NHS. It’s a controversial procedure that inspires highly emotional responses. On the one hand we hear a UCL doctor hailing it as the ‘only means to healthy weight loss’; on the other we read stories from patients claiming that it ruined their lives.

The public sense of outrage when Fern Britten confessed to having had stomach surgery was very interesting. It seems that people felt so ‘betrayed’ because it was another blow to those trying to find a healthy, effective weight loss diet. Having seen Britton as an inspiring example that good nutrition gets good results, they wondered whether they should just give up the struggle and sign up to go under the knife.

It must be a tempting idea when you’re obsessively counting calories and trimming fat with little discernible result. It makes me only more aware of the importance of helping people discover a way of eating that feels natural and that works. If your diet doesn’t working, you haven’t run out of options. You just haven’t found the right diet.

19 September 2008

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Let me tell you what happened to me last week. I was invited to attend a
debate on saturated fats. As it was co-sponsored by the government and
Unilever, my hopes were high. I was looking forward to hearing the
arguments – both pro and anti – thrashed out, not least because the
invitation intimated that the discussion would be science-led.

How disappointing! Only one speaker actually presented any published
science. The rest of them trotted out the usual folklore and unfounded
hearsay that I’ve heard so often before.

The speaker who gave the scientific presentation suggested there wasn’t
sufficient good evidence to prove that saturated fats are bad for us.
But this proposition was never properly addressed.

It’s frustrating to be asked to an event that you expect to be
even-handed and enlightening, only to be met with the same old same old.

And let me leave you with one thought. If, as most people believe,
Darwin is right and we have evolved to survive, why on earth would we
have developed to eat these ‘killer’ fats?

It doesn’t make any sense to me. Does it to you?

17 September 2008

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Photo courtesy of Kaitlin M - Flickr

Photo courtesy of Kaitlin M - Flickr

I’m delighted to announce that the Go Lower programme has just got a little rounder – in a way that will help our customers to become leaner, even more effectively.

Let me explain! We’re always looking for feedback about how Go Lower can be improved, and after one year of providing food and support to customers we have learnt a lot. Our main finding was that the best results come from when people commit to us and we commit to them in a truly holistic fashion. This means seeing Go Lower as a complete life change, not just a change in diet.

For example, we’ve learnt that it helps for us to give some extra special support at the very beginning of the diet, when newcomers to Go Lower need to break from old patterns and habits: so we’ve created the Detox period to get things off to a flying start.  We’re also even more aware of the impact of changing minds and attitudes as well as nutrition, so we’re emphasizing our ongoing, practical and personal support and advice on the diet, to ensure it is truly sustainable.

As ever, leave a comment below with any stories, experiences or feedback of your own to help us help you Go Lower!

15 September 2008

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It’s one of the biggest dieting clichés there is: an anxious woman checking the labels of every packet and tin as she goes round the supermarket, determined to keep her calorie count below a certain magic number.

But life by numbers isn’t much fun.

Only today I had a phone call with a lovely lady who asked the simple question ‘How many calories will I consume a day on the Go Lower Diet?’ She was a little surprised when I asked her why this mattered. Because, obviously, she responded, she was on a low calorie diet. I gently pointed out that she wanted to try Go Lower because this wasn’t working. Why would I encourage her to keep doing the same thing?

Since the early 80s we have been told to count calories. But even though on average we eat less calories today and don’t do much less exercise, we are bigger than ever before.

Many scientific studies (you can see one example here) show that our weight is affected by the sort of calories we consume, not just the amount. To lose weight, we must look at the nature of the food we eat, not just the energy content. It’s one of the basic principles underpinning Go Lower.

It can be so difficult to overcome assumptions about diet that have been drilled into us for years. But admit it: don’t you sometimes long to see food as food again, not a guilt-inducing figure on the back of a jar?

12 September 2008

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Thanks to Richard Dawkins’ recent creationist-bashing Channel 4 series, evolution has been a hot topic over the

past few weeks. I enjoyed the programme, and I’d love to see one similarly debunking unscientific diet myths in favour of the evolution of eating.

We are physically designed to be hunter gatherers, surviving on a low carb, high protein diet which is low in grains, starch and sugar. A few weeks ago the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article which show

ed that this diet, that we evolved to eat, is still good for us. Hardly surprising, surely?

Well, in some ways it is. Because for most of us this doesn’t seem like our natural diet any more; we’re used to carbohydrates taking up most space on our plate. However, in evolutionary terms, we’ve only been relying on settled agriculture and mass production of grain for the blink of an eye. OK, so relying on carbohydrates for our energy wasn’t so bad in previous decades, when we worked the energy off with manual labour. But in a post industrial society it quite obviously leads to the obesity and ill health so many struggle with today.

So going back to our roots will help us ensure a healthy future: evolved eating, in other words.

11 September 2008

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In my daily conversations and reading about weight loss, one thing continues to intrigue me. No-one bats an eyelid at a ‘low-fat diet’ – but why is low carb still considered so controversial?

During the summer this piece of research was published showing the long term effects of three types of diet. Low Fat, Mediterranean and Low Carb. The report was looking at a whole heap of factors and yet again , notwithstanding the expectations of the health industry, low carb comes out best . It is only one of many studies proving that the diet is not harmful, and is effective. But out of those three diets, low carb is probably the one people know least about or are least confident in.

A low carb, high protein diet is based around the ways our bodies have evolved to best process food – the hunter-gatherer principle – and therefore should seem the most logical and natural thing in the world. But as in all areas of our life, propaganda and advertising can influence us on a very strong emotional level. Decades’ worth of images of smiling skinny women munching on nothing but carrots and rice cakes convince us this is the only way to stay slim, even when the reality makes us miserable.

Why do you think people remain strangely resistant to the idea of low carb eating?

9 September 2008

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Hi and welcome to HannahSutter.com! As the founder of Go Lower, I’ll be using the blog to update you on all the latest developments with the programme, along with details of my own daily thoughts and discoveries I feel are worth sharing.

It’ll also be full of informal discussion on the industry and musings on the latest news. Hopefully you’ll feel like you can get involved in the topics that arise, so please join in and share any thoughts, stories, experiences and opinions of your own.

I look forward to starting a great conversation!

Hannah.

9 September 2008

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