Is diet and exercise enough to stop us gaining weight? This is the question that Dr Berit Heitmann, obesity researcher from the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, presented to us at a talk she recently gave in Sydney. And her short answer? No.
Having looked at all the studies to date including two Cochrane reviews she found that on average these diet/exercise interventions helped people to eat more healthy food and do more activity but had little or no effect on weight. So what else could it be?
“This year I’m going to lose weight.” It would have to be one of the top New Year’s resolutions – and it should be banned! Just the thought that tomorrow you can’t have dessert, chocolate or whatever happens to be your particular weakness is sure to ruin any New Year celebration. And if you are anything like me, thinking you are not allowed something only makes you want it more!
I call it the DIG cycle. You Deprive yourself of the ‘naughty’ foods which leads to obsessing so much about them that you finally Indulge. Even as the first forbidden mouthful passes your lips, Guilt sets in and you resolve to Deprive yourself again.
So how can we lose or control our weight without becoming caught in the DIG cycle? Here are my top ten tips…
If you’ve decided to cut back on bread in an attempt to control weight, think again. Wholegrains were one of a handful of winning foods in a new study looking at long term weight control. The researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate more wholegrains actually gained less weight over four years.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine this study of over 120,000 people found that people who ate more unprocessed foods, specifically wholegrains, nuts, yoghurt (reduced or full fat), fruit and vegetables gained the least weight over a four year period.
These people didn’t just keep on eating the same amount over the four years; they actually increased the number of serves of these foods they ate each day. More food means more kilojoules so why didn’t they gain weight? These foods are all high fibre (apart from yoghurt) nutrient rich foods which provide long lasting satiety. They keep blood sugars stable without the rapid spikes that experts now think contribute to weight problems. If you eat lots of these foods chances are you won’t feel quite so desperate to munch on crisps or slurp on a soft drink.