Is Your Diet A Crime?

Feb 19, 2013 No Comments by

No. But trying hard to lose weight and still failing can make you feel like a victim. Let our crack team solve the mystery of your stuck scale.

In the quest for a learner you, your waistline is represented by two entities: the diet and exercise programme that firms up your body and our anti-pudge police who investigate why they’re not working. Before you seal your fridge shut with crime-scene tape, take a look at your case file. Our team has found seven clues – including dirty spoons in the sink, an overflowing recycling bin and a worn, grimy snooze button – that could reveal what’s really sabotaging your diet. Our experts uncover the sneaky preps in your own home – and show you how to put them away for life. Dun dun.

Your Diet Plan

Your Diet Plan

1. The Case Of The 10000 Spoon

You’ve been cooking at home like Nigella on crack to cut back on kilojoules, but passing up restaurant fare still hasn’t helped you melt away the kilos. Where’s the problem? Could be in your sink. Next time you wash the dishes, do a quick inventory: are your plates and bowls as big as servings platters? See lots of knives and spoons?

Send It To The Lab : Those Incredible Hulk-size cups, bowls and plates? Researchers tell us they just encourage bigger portions. As for the knives and spoons, they often go hand in hand with spready and creamy: mayo, peanut butter, ice cream. It takes a fork to dig in to healthier stuff like crunchy salads, steamed fresh vegetables and chewy lean meats.

Solved : Scale down your dishes and silverware – look for plates that are no more than 25cm in diameter (slightly bigger than your hand with fingers spread out), and limit yourself to teaspoons and dessert forks. “Using smaller utensils forces you to take smaller bites, making the meal last longer an diving you time to feel full,” says dietician. And get creative: swap a mega soup bowl for a mug, a ramekin or anything less than 12.5cm in diameter. For an even quicker fix, try this: wrap a rubber band around the handles of all your spoons and knives as a reminder to reflect on what you’re about to shovel in. A recent study showed that merely weighing the pros and cons of your next meal or snack before you chow down is strongly linked to weight-loss success. If you’re lapping up dessert instead of steel-cut oats, proceed with caution (and use a baby spoon).

2. The Case Of The Slimy Veggie Drawer

There’s something rotten in your kitchen, and if you sniff your way to the fridge, you’ll discover what: lots of withered, unidentifiable green corpses in the veggie drawer.

Send It To The Lab : A drawer full of slimy, mouldy broccoli and carrots means you haven’t been following one of the golden rules of weight loss: eat your veggies. A 2008 study in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease showed that women who ate five daily servings of fresh produce and stayed away from fast food were more likely to lose weight and keep it off than those who didn’t.

Solved : Make it easier to live up to your good intentions by being realistic when you shop. “Even though you might want to buy a bunch of interesting new veggies to kick off a diet, they can be so overwhelming that you don’t eat any,” says sports nutritionist. “Stick to one new vegetable at a time and buy others you know you like and will eat.”

To keep them from going to waste, get into the habit of prepping produce as soon as it enters your kitchen. “Biscuits are a lot easier to grab, so remove the roadblocks to healthy eating”. “Wash, dry thoroughly and cut fruit and veggies, then store them in plain sight. Make them scream your name when you open that fridge door.” If you’re still a serial celery slayer, keep your produce on ice. Frozen spinach is nearly as good for you as the fresh stuff and has a much longer shelf life. “It’s already cut and clean”. Defrost it in the microwave and add it to scrambled eggs with 28g of low-fat cheese for a super-quick low-kilojoule breakfast.

3. The Case Of The Telltale Hangover

There’s a barstool with your name on it and the barman offers you “the regular” as soon as you sit down.

Send It To The Lab : Happy hour is tough on your waistline. Besides all the extra kilojoules in a drink, when the snack menu shows up, your defences will be way down.

“Because alcohol is technically a toxin, your body will likely process it before any other source of energy”. “An average drink has between 12 and 14g of alcohol. That’s 350 to 400kJ the body must burn before it metabolises anything else.” Which means you may not be burning the fat in those potato wedges. Gulp.

Solved : Limiting after-work drinks to one day to week. A few tricks to help you stay on track: before heading out, tell yourself you can go only if you hit the gym first; if spending an hour on the elliptical doesn’t make you lose the urge, having to shower and primp again might. Plan to eat lower-kilojoule foods that day and have a healthy snack (say, veggies and hummus) beforehand to help you resist greasy bar food. When you do raise a glass, make sure it’s filled with white wine (420 to 500kJ per glass) or a light beer, such as Castle Lite.

4. The Case Of The Grimy Snooze Button

Your alarm clock’s fingerprint-covered snooze button and battered appearance point to a meager sleep schedule.

Send It To The Lab : Fat cells have their own accounting system, and a sleep deficit can screw up your bottom line as much as a koeksister surplus. A 2008 study in the journal Sleep showed that people who got less than seven hours of shut-eye a night gained 88 percent more weight over six years than those who got more. The reason: too little pillow time makes your metabolism idle, leaving you sapped of of energy and more likely to pay a visit to the vending machine. It could also mean you’re skipping morning workouts……

Solved : Even if getting eight hours a night is impossible, snub the snooze. Dragging yourself out of bed at a consistent time and crawling through the day is better than trying to sneak in extra Zs or guzzling Red Bull. Instead, when you need to reboot, drag yourself to the gym. “Exercise can start to reset your clock”. “It increase oxygen in the blood and circulation, which makes you feel more awake.” With an a.m. workout, you’ll have the energy to get through the nine to five, you’ll avoid a sweet run and you’ll be off the fitness hook at day’s end – meaning you can hit the sheets earlier. If you’re a habitual snooze abuser, try policing yourself: for each time you push the back-to-Neverland button, make your bedtime the next night 10 minutes earlier.

5. The Case Of The Usual Suspects

You’re a PI’s dream: easy to tail. You routine never changes, you meal don’t vary and your shopping list is so predictable you might as well as laminate it.

Send It To The Lab : When your body receives and uses the same amount of fuel every day, weight loss stalls. “As you lose weight your resting metabolic rate goes down in proportion to the kilos you’ve dropped”. “So following the exact menu and exercise that helped you get to where you are will ultimately cause you to plateau.” And odds are, if you eat the same foods, you’re missing out on the essential nutrients that variety brings to your diet. The tail that leads from missing nutrients to cake cravings. According to one study, a deficiency of folate or magnesium (found in green leafy veg and beans) can lead to depression, which causes the body to release stress hormones. The result : moodiness and carbcravings. “Food fatigue spells diet disaster”. “If you have oats every day, you’re bound to rebel by bingeing on other tastes and textures – usually fattening ones. Little tweaks every day can stop a big derailment later.”

Solved : When you’re cracking down on kilojoules, make every one count. Research shows that filling up on nutrient-dense foods will keep you from dipping into the snack bowl. Start with small changes, like swapping refined grains for whole-grains. Then try to have one new food at every meal – trade chicken for tuna or tofu – until you’ve revamped your old menu. Venture into the ethnic or vegetarian websites such as or sign up for a cooking class.

6. The Case Of The Stuffed Recycling Bin

Your kids have a chart full of gold stars for loyally supporting their school’s recycling project.

Send It To The Lab : A pile of recycling indicates that much of what you’re eating comes in boxes and cans, meaning it’s not fresh, whole food. “One of the biggest signs of unhealthy eating is an unused kitchen”. “It means we’re resorting to convenience food loaded with fat and salt. Get back to cooking and you’ll have way more control over what you’re putting in your mouth.”

Solved : Low-kilojoule frozen entrees may not be as innocent as you think. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that we eat up to 550 more kilojoules when the main dish is advertised as healthy. The “healthy” label made study participants underestimate the kilojoule content – and that “light” dinner was interpreted as a free pass for Death By Chocolate to round is off.

To take your weight loss office, spend a month gradually erasing processed, packaged fare from your freezer and cupboard. (If you must have an emergency no-time-to-cook back-up meal, make sure it has fewer than four grams of fat per 400kJ and sodium south of 800mg.) Each week, spend more time shopping the perimeter of your supermarket – that’s where you’ll find the produce, fresh lean meats and low-fat dairy – and less in the centre aisles, where the packaged stuff lurks. Fresh foods are also a better source of fiber, which staves off hunger pangs. (And according to research, getting less than the recommended 20 to 25g a day of fibre raises your risk of being overweight by up to 80 percent.)

7. The Case Of the Trashed Seat

Your car looks as if vandals broke into it, so criminally high is the mound of drive-through receipts blanketing the floor.

Send It To The Lab : A messy car means you’re spending a lot of time behind the wheel – and using your dashboard as a buffet table. A study found that drivers whose commutes exceed 15 minutes each way are 64 percent more likely to be overweight. And eating fast food and multitasking while dining are two behaviours linked to being overweight.

Solved : Fast-food joints are everywhere – but it’s way easier to cruise past them if you’re not hungry. “Have a snack before you get in the car”. Try a 400kJ cup of yoghurt. And stash healthy snacks, like small packs of almonds or biltong, in your cubbyhole.

If you must eat a meal en route, try to choose a place that provides kilojoule info about their meals, stick to small portions and try to avoid anything fried. And stay out of the drive-through: standing at the counter will give you a few extra minutes to study the menu and choose the lesser evil, like a grilled chicken burger over the fried kind.

Health And Nutrition
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