Two weeks ago I shared with you my story and my somewhat oscillating relationship with my weight. I thought I’d feel vulnerable and silly, but I felt empowered by all the feedback I received. Guys, we all have this questions at the backs of our minds, regardless whether we’re a XS, a M or a XL size. We all want to feel good and look good and be happy with ourselves. It is ironic that we’re our biggest enemies in the process of attaining all this, decent number of kilos included.
No more blah blah, let’s debunk together all the lies we tell ourselves. First of all, I would advise you to read this article on nutrition and get an overview on my food philosophy. If you do want to lose weight, you need to approach the change lightly, with an open mind and with an open heart. Not as a challenge, not as a chore, not as a thing you need to conquer. This will set you for failure. You need to think long term, you need to consider your overall energy and mood first and then the number of kilos. But, I’m not gonna be one of these zen-mindful-spiritual people and give you a bunch of bullshit about inner beauty, it is about losing your extra kilos, of course. But please, please!, think of this as a side-effect, not as the end-game alone. One by one, here we go: Read More
I believe, without doubt, that most of us have had some weight-related questions or issues at some point in our lives. The relation between weight and other aspects is clear: health, self-esteem, relationship building, group dynamics. Weight has an impact even on our professional lives: overweight candidates are judged less competent than fit candidates. A halo effect and a recruitment bias. So yes, weight is front and center in our modern world. I’ve explored the relation between body image, external stimuli, perception and weight loss before. Us women are the harshest judges of weight in relation to beauty and we are also judged negatively by both men and other women for being overweight. I was a twiggy kid, grew up into a lanky adolescent and enter the adulthood as a skinny young woman. Some people complimented my figure, others raised their concerns and some were simply making fun. But I wasn’t meant to go through life with a slender body, not at all! I had a few challenges and road bumps. The first one was when I moved to the US and I put on weight. A lot of weight, enough said. I was in my early twenties, so I was able to quickly shove it off when I came back to Europe and to a normal diet. The second milestone was when I moved to Belgium. I discovered the Belgian beers, the fritjes, the bricky burger eaten at 3 in the morning to try to drench the alcohol vapors in fat. I was a (poor) Eastern European student, so I was not able to afford good foods, I ate a lot of crap. I cared more about partying and classes than I cared about what I ate. I lived in a student dorm and I shared a kitchen and a fridge with an entire floor. All kind of excuses associated with that stage of life. The road to FAT-Ville also continued after I graduated, got a well-paid job and wasn’t poor anymore. I wanted to compensate and I started eating a lot. Good foods, all cooked by me, but LOTS. And I put on weight again. 10 kilos, to be precise. That’s when I started being heavily interested in nutrition and it’s impact on our bodies, and not only in recipes and cooking amazing dishes. I went through different stages, questioning, reading, doing research…the works. That was 7 years ago. I realized that we are our biggest enemies in the process of losing weight. All our preconceived ideas about losing weight. All the crap we tell ourselves.
“Eat a piece of broccoli every Tuesday at 4:32 PM- you’ll lose ten kilos in month and live to be 100 years old“. How many times have you read similar statements online or even in print magazines? I say “even” because I think, maybe a bit unwary, that print should still offer a certain level of guarantee or quality. We are being flooded with reports, break-throughs, scientific discoveries, all kinds of findings coming from the elusively famous “British scientists”. One can find these articles in a variety of places, from social media, different platforms, blogs and even academic forums. So much stuff, so much contradictory stuff. Fat is bad, wait!, fat is actually not that bad, afterall. Coconut oil is everything! Blueberries are life! Your level of cholesterol is driven by what you eat, so put down that piece of bacon! Also, bacon gives you cancer! Flax-seeds are full of Omega-3! Goji berries will make you immortal! Adopt a Mediterranean diet and you’ll never have heart problems! Gluten is killing! Lactose is the devil! Probiotics will save your life! And on and on and on!
Now, let’s be honest and think about how much time we spend reading these or, for that matter, any other articles. The title and a quick diagonal? The title and the first few sentences? Most of the times we only skim through an article and we (almost) never bother to verify the facts presented. We simply take all info at face value. I find it rather naive that we trust the so-called journalists and we make big choices- from the food we eat to the votes we cast- based on what is, most of the time, bluff info. Pseudo-science is everywhere, these days anyone with a WiFi can pretend to be a learned scholar, add a pretty picture, praise the next-big-thing, covert hoards of well-intended people and call it a day. Say hello to the modern internet-health-charlatan, the one that drinks beers with your long-lost Nigerian cousin who insists he wires you your one million dollars inheritance. And even when this info comes from what should be more trustworthy sources, we find ourselves at a loss. Do you remember this study , lead by Professor Peter Rogers from the University of Bristol? Yes, this infamous study claims that, essentially, people who consume diet drinks could be more likely to lose weight than those who drink water. What comes out? The study is sponsored by International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), whose members include Coca-Cola & Pepsi.co. The funding from these biased actors didn’t appear in the paper for “lack of space”, argued the officials from Bristol University, when challenged. Click here if you’re curious to go into the details. I have a few academics in my close circle and family, and I can tell you the resorts of academic research and scientific publication are not always crystal-clear; they can be money-driven and dubious, to say the least.
So what to do in this grimm situation, when fact and fiction mingle into pseudo-science?
Image from South Park Studio
Human nutrition is such a complex topic and I’m not even gonna pretend to be a big expert. Yes, I have taken several nutrition classes, I’m devouring any book on this matter, I research articles about this vast topic (scientific articles, guys, not the buzz-feed type) and the more I learn, the more I’m hungry for more. I am deeply passionate about food, the way people eat and the improvements we can make in this area. Because I’m food-obsessed, I always combine the more scientific view on nutrition with good, well-grounded cooking tips because food should be about pleasure and joy!
There will be much exploration on this topic here, but for now, I would like to summarize my personal views in six easy-to-grasp points. Read More