Which foods are the real culprits when it comes to weight gain? According to the NHS guidance The Eat Well Plate, foods we should be eating in the smallest quantities are those high in fat and sugar. Foods we should be eating more of are fruit and vegetables and starchy foods i.e. bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, what we know as “carbs”. However, several of my friends and family are on a low carb diet and are successfully losing weight. Some years ago, I had Ayurvedic treatment (Indian herbalism) for a digestive complaint and I had to avoid potatoes. An unintentional outcome of this was that I lost weight.
The Atkins diet is a higher protein/higher fat/low carb approach to weight loss and management. The theory is that by eating fewer carbs, your body will burn fat instead for energy. Eating fewer carbs also releases less insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar levels and promotes fat storage. Eating more fat, which keeps you fuller for longer in the absence of carbs, is not supposed to have a detrimental effect providing you are strict about carbs. Therein lies the problem.
Like the saying ‘a dog is not just for Christmas’, weight management is for life! I need an eating plan that’s sustainable and allows me to flex the rules sometimes without keeping me up half the night with guilt. If I cheat on Atkins, will I have this peace of mind?
As you approach your target weight on Atkins, you gradually add carbs back to your diet according to your tolerance for them. Even then, a treat could be as modest as a single slice of pizza. No, no….not for me! I want to enjoy a whole pizza or any other food in the NHS “eat only small amounts of” section and then follow the healthy eating plan rigidly for the next week to make up for it.
Most of the time, I eat ‘good’ carbs that keep me fuller for longer like wholemeal pasta, bread and chappatis (unleavened Indian flatbread) and breakfast cereals such as branflakes or porridge. I do indulge on rare occasions in ‘less good’ carbs such as potatoes, white rice and white flour products. These approaches keep my blood glucose levels more constant and reduce the cravings that lead to raiding the biscuit or cake tin (‘bad, bad carbs’) or eating more than I need!
In summary, I am an advocate of the NHS recommended healthy diet. The catchphrase “Everything in moderation” comes to mind (perhaps some in more moderation than others!) and as I said before, that includes portion size!