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5 December 2020

Ruth Mave: One-hit wonder diets not the answer

Monday 24 February 2020 | Published in Editorials

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Ruth Mave: One-hit wonder diets not the answer
It would be easy to say we can't help it, we are born this way and it's not just the cans of bully beef, cans of Coke and Mother energy drink that are causing us to be in the top three most obese nations in the world. 20022308

OPINION: From eating kangaroos to eating cookies, Google offers 59 million diet solutions – but none is the real answer to our obesity problem.

To diet or not to diet, that is the question.

The diet advice pathway is confusing: to find the best, most efficient solution for reducing weight, improving cardiovascular systems, fitness and immunity.

Search online for “diet” and in 0.36 secs you will get 59 million results.

It’s mind boggling, from the fruitarian diet (those who only eat fruit), vegetarian (only eat veges), lacto-vegetarianism (eat dairy and veges), pescetarian (eat fish), Body for Life, Jenny Craig, pollotarian (eats poultry), low-fat, low-protein, low sodium, kangatarian (yip, a vegetarian who also eats kangaroos, go figure).

There’s intermittent fasting, organic, paleolithic diet (caveman food); prison loaf (hmmm), cookie diet (I like this one!) and to top it all off, the inedia or breatharian diet – a diet in which no food is consumed, based on the belief that food is not necessary for human subsistence. Aaahah, now that’s just silly.

The latest study suggests non-communicable diseases in Pacific people are genetically-influenced.

I remember years ago when they said Pacific islanders had a “lazy gene” to help them survive the feast and famine of cyclones devasting crops and food sources. That was a great excuse for the spare tyre growing around my belly.

Now they say genetics show urate crystals that cause gout are also used to fight malaria, so our body’s weapon against malaria 3000 years ago becomes our modern-day burden in our joints.

Yes, we could find there is a genetic variant but to what extent and percentage does it take hold over us?

It would be easy to say we can’t help it, we are born this way and it’s not just the cans of bully beef, cans of Coke and Mother energy drink that are causing us to be in the top three most obese nations in the world.

Fifty years ago we became an independent nation and the film clips of those times show a very robust, active and healthy population, walking, swimming, riding, bicycles.

No one was large or obese like we are now – why is that? How can we have the same genetic make-up then, and be healthy, but not now?

I believe it’s due to our dramatic change in lifestyle. It’s not a “lazy gene” it’s a lazy lifestyle. We are less active, our food is less nutritious or fresh, and more processed and frozen.

And it’s full of sugar that has become a modern-day addiction with a stranglehold over us, especially our children.

You’ve heard of the Subway diet, made famous by Jared Fogle who lost 111kg by changing his high calorie fast food diet to Subway sandwiches? What’s not often mentioned is he chose to walk there and back several blocks to eat. Therein lies the secret to his success.

On Google there may be 59 million ways to diet, but regular, consistent activity will do more to enhance the health of your organs, blood, brain and reduce fat than just taking on a one-hit wonder diet.

Walking is easy, we can all do it, we don’t need fancy machines and boot camp sergeants screaming at us to go, go, go!

Walk to the bus stop, get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way to work.

Walk up the stairs, walk to the beach, walk along the beach. Walking is kinder on your joints. Walking will get your blood pumping.

Choose a diet you can do every day for the rest of your life, and also walk every day for the rest of your life, and you will live a healthy, happy, longer life.