We all know about them and have either been ourselves or know someone that has (and probably someone who’s lost 10 stone doing the diet).
There was one, I did myself for many years on and off and before I got married, I lost 1 ½ stone following it and felt great. But here’s the problem. Slimming clubs are about weight and not health. For some women it works well, they lose weight and feel fantastic. But for others it’s not that simple (me being one of them).
And don’t even get me started on the people that keep going back because ‘it worked for them before’…..because it clearly didn’t because you’re having to go back after putting the weight back on, so it’s not a long term sustainable change.
Ok, so this is turning into a bit of a rant, so let’s get to the point!
Because the principle of the diet is all about weight loss and not focused on health , as women it can really affect your hormonal health. It definitely did mine……and here’s why!
Reasons they are not good for hormone health
1. They focus on low-fat
Your hormones need fat. The healthy types (think nuts and seeds, avocado, coconut oil, oily fish). Not only do they help your body to burn fat, but they also improve your brain function, focus and mood and reduce inflammation in the body. Slimming clubs encourage the low-fat options which not only don’t support hormone balance but are also full of other things such as sugar, sweeteners and preservatives to replace what is taken out and these also disrupt your hormonal health.
2. They are carb obsessed
On the plan that I followed, you are free to eat as many carbs as you like. The thing is that carbs affect your blood sugar levels and when you eat them your insulin levels shoot up. And when you’re a carb junkie (like I was), being given permission to eat them means a free for all! You fill up on them and not on foods that are nutrient dense. Carbs are also addictive, and when you stop following the other guidelines in the plan, the weight will pile back on because your body stores excess carbs as fat. It can also put you at risk of insulin resistance as you are yo-yo dieting.
3. Thinking of food as good or bad
As a dieter you probably already have a bad relationship with food, and thinking about foods as good or bad just makes you feel deprived when you can’t have the ‘bad stuff’. And makes you crave it more! It’s so important to learn to think differently about food. To learn how it supports and nourishes your body and that healthy foods can be delicious and enjoyable and are not a deprivation.
4. Cheating after weigh in
It’s weigh-in night, and you’ve been really ‘good’ and lost 2-3lbs, which is cause for celebration so you treat yourself to a Chinese (family size bar of chocolate/cream bun/cake?). Or maybe you’ve gained and so you treat yourself to the same to cheer yourself up. This is wrong on so many levels, but seeing food as a treat rather than something to support your body, using food as a reward creates a negative cycle and a damaged emotional relationship with the food. Trust me, I’m not judging because I’ve been there! But the kind of foods that you choose are damaging to your hormonal health and affect your dopamine levels as the more you have of them the more you crave, and it starts a vicious cycle.
5. Becoming obsessed with food
Whether it’s counting calories, points or syns, you become obsessive (and dare I say, a bit boring?). You plan your meals in details and know exactly how much you have left for treats (or wine!) and you analyse it constantly. You’re constantly thinking about the next meal, talking about what you’re eating and worrying about any social occasions you have coming up when you’ll have to go off plan.
6. Too many processed foods and artificial sweeteners
A lot of the free foods and low calorie foods that are encouraged on these plans are highly processed and full of sweeteners and artificial ingredients (just read look at the ingredient list on most of them). These foods not only don’t give your body the nutritional support it needs but the chemicals and substances in them can impair your health and hormone balance.
What to do instead
– Focus on eating real, whole foods rich in protein, healthy fats and phytonutrients, that support your body and your hormones.
– Cut out vegetable oils and margarines and swap for healthy fats such as coconut, olive oil and grass-fed butter
– Omega-3’s from oily fish and avocados
– Drink more water and herbal teas and less caffeine, which raises your cortisol levels
– Eat nutrient rich phytonutrients with every meal, from fruits, vegetables and other plant based foods
– Eliminate white refined carbs and replace with nutrient rich complex carbs in sweet potatoe, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice
– Cut back on sugar, sweeteners and processed foods
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