As a 23 year old near-millennial female living in Britain, I have grown up being exposed to all the diets under the sun- Atkins, liquid and juice-only diets, the Grapefruit Diet (which I tried for two weeks when I was 16 and I swear to Zeus I’ve never had gas so bad in my life), and all these fad diets that indeed, promote short-term weight loss goals, but are ultimately way too restrictive to be healthy, and as soon as you stop them, you gain any sort of weight you lost in the first place.
Yeah, yeah C, we’ve heard it all before, don’t follow fad diets, we know that Atkins isn’t good for you, we’re not stupid.
I can literally feel the eye-rolls through my computer screen already.
Nope. I do not think you’re stupid or naive, but in a world where we are exposed to even more than my young self in the 90’s could ever have imagined possible, it is getting increasingly easier to be swept up amongst new trends and fashions – because yes, even diets and nutritional habits come and go in trends.
For example, in the 50’s and 60’s, it was all about the curves. Hourglasses were in and being too thin was frowned upon. And remember in the early 2000’s when being skinnier than a Frube, with no boobs or an ass to sit on was trendy? Now Instagram and other social medias are all about getting ‘dat booty‘ and more and more women are getting involved with weightlifting as a means of exercise, in order to achieve this desired look that apparently every man in the world loves now.
I’m not going to be a hypocrite and tell you not to follow these people on social media. I have been weightlifting for a year now, and while I am totally guilty for having started doing it for aesthetic purposes, trying to cheat my Asian heritage and grow a bum that’s always been flat as a frisbee, I have come to grow and love the strength I have, which in turn gives me confidence that I’ve never had before. Who wouldn’t like to see themselves being able to squat 56kg when they started huffing and puffing with 20kg squats?
However… and here begins my lil rant… Recently, when I’ve been food shopping, I’ve been drawn towards these brands in supermarkets such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers, and the labels on their packages, what with their low-fat, low-everything promise, have made me wonder whether I should be following one of these ‘plans’.
That’s right, Weight Watchers and Slimming World are not diets (ew, what a filthy word) but plans.
I took some time and did some research -because anything to avoid having to study right?- and these plans do indeed, through point systems and guidance, promote sustainable weight loss and healthy eating.
With Weight Watchers, there are no foods on a ‘forbidden’ list that people must stay away from because they’re bad and you’ll get fat and how dare you even want to have a tiny bit of chocolate?! The plan encourages snacks and treats once in a while, and leaders of groups are able to give good nutritional advice, with some groups even allowing people to bring their kids into meetings…. educating the next generation on how to be healthy and not eat crisps for dinner? Yes please.
Slimming world and Weight Watchers both offer branded foods to make it easier for followers of the plan to be able to stick to their daily points allowance, and, I’ve tried a Slimming World soup. It had chorizo in it and it was indeed very tasty.
Finally in the 21st century we have perfect a perfect diet plan and a way to be healthy and not worry about our weight or what we’re putting in our bodies?! Yay, hallelujah and let’s all have a dance!
I don’t want to s*** on anyone’s parade, but is this really what we’re doing with our time now?
These plans cost money to be a part of. What about students or older people out there that can’t afford to do that? Hell, there were some weeks when I was a student during which I couldn’t afford some meals, let alone fork out a weekly fee to have someone tell me what to eat.
And the weekly meetings, you have to be weighed. I get that this is essential for tracking progress, but please, standing in front of a whole room of people getting weighed? The others may not see your weight, but the person weighing you does. Nah mate.
And this whole points thing. Sorry, but food is food. Yes, take into account the nutritional information that you’re given, but counting points is tedious, and can become obsessive. Forgetting to log a day’s points may be discouraging or make you feel bad, and God forbid going over your allowance, like how could you after everything you’ve put into your progress?!
Also, the major flaw in the points system is that it is 100% possible to use all your allowance points on food that isn’t nutritious, and so why have the points there in the first place?
And on we come to my biggest irk.
These ‘Syns’ that Slimming World have. Sounds an awful lot like ‘sin’ doesn’t it? And obviously you’re only allowed a certain amount of Syns a day… as if I don’t feel bad enough already when I have a cheeky wee indulgence let alone have to log it as a Syn? It’s this pattern of thinking, that you have to stay away from ‘bad‘ foods that lay the groundwork for vulnerable people to develop eating disorders.
I’m not saying these plans are directly responsible for the growing number of young men and women developing disordered thoughts towards food, but the trick is not to tell people what they need to refrain from eating or how many points a food is worth. It’s too close to the whole obsession of calorie counting for comfort.
If healthy food, healthy habits and balanced diets were promoted in schools and enforced in homes by parents, we’d be well on our way to helping the younger generation to become health conscious without becoming obsessed and frantic over numbers.
Intuitive eating and listening to your body is what’s important, not counting points and ‘Syns’.