The weight loss industry is big business. In 2021, it is estimated that a whopping 70.3% of Australian adults aged 18 and over are either overweight or obese. With the Global Pandemic (COVID-19) now in its third year with no end in sight, that figure is bound to continue to rise. The reasons for this may be complex but it doesn’t change the fact that we are human and weight gain is usually caused by… well… known causes. One cause which won’t surprise you at all is that people are eating the wrong foods, getting the wrong advice and with it moving further and further away from being an instinctive human. We are receiving the wrong information at the wrong times and yet still expect to get results. If this is you, you can stop feeling bad about not losing weight. We are not taught how to get back to basics – to learn how our bodies fundamentally work, to tune into our hunger cues or understand what predispositions we have for disease or weight gain. Instead we are influenced by big business as we seek answers from external sources – like the weight loss industry.
The weight loss industry is vast and has probably had its claws in you at one point in your life. It’s natural – if you want to lose weight, you look for help. This industry includes companies that offer goods and services such as weight loss counseling / advice and companies offering food and beverage specifically designed for weight loss. This includes diet meal provisions, on-line weight loss programs, personal weight loss counseling, diet shakes, bars, powders and supplements, group weight loss counseling and services. According to IBIS World there are 578 businesses in Australia operating under this category (two of the top with the largest market share are Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers) and the industry in Australia is worth just shy of half a billion dollars!
There are companies our there that are doing the right thing but the fact remains that we have a weight loss industry that is super successful yet we have a population that is seriously overweight. To the average human, this clearly shows us that something is wrong. Right? Right.
For the 2018 financial year, just over half (51.3%) of Australians consumed the recommended daily serve of fruit (2 or more serves) but only 1 in 13 (7.5%) of adults met the recommended guideline for serves of vegetables (5 serves). Only 1 in 20 (5.4%) of adults met both the recommended fruit and vegetable recommendation. Just 5%!
What is going wrong? Here are my thoughts:
- We are being influenced by big business to consume the wrong foods, replace wholefoods with shakes and bars or skip the food altogether and take drugs. We are made to believe that this is ok. That there is no harm in this. It is not surprising that the majority of people don’t consume enough fruit and veg when only 4% of all advertising promotes fruit and vegetable consumption. Junk food, drugs and weight loss foods make up most of the rest.
- The right information regarding what food actually does for your body is not available. When was the last time you learnt about how whole foods can reverse disease? Or about the detrimental fumes from frying bacon? We have to seek and search for this information. It is not readily available. It is not in front of us like gambling ads or flame grilled beef burgers.
- Doctors are not trained in nutrition – they are trained in medicine. So food is never their go to remedy. Drugs are.
- It is ‘normal’ to diet. Dieting does not help you lose weight. Respect and love for you body does. When you respect and love your body, good nutrition follows.
- There are 7.7 billion people on the planet and 9 mainstream commercial ‘diets’. These diets are not catering for you. They are making people money.
We must remember that we are individuals. If a diet works for you, great. But I can guarantee for the majority of people it won’t last and that is because it is not natural. Restricting or eating foods that you do not believe in will only make your body more confused and search longer and harder for something else.
What works for me that may help you:
- Appreciate your body for what it is. It is a vessel to get you through this wonderful life.
- If you are unhealthy (you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin), still love your body but make a conscious decision to start taking small steps towards a healthier you.
- Don’t try to completely change your diet or lifestyle overnight. Nothing works that fast! Decision first, then one small step. Time will pass anyway (if you are lucky) so whether it takes 4 weeks or 4 years, you will get there.
- Explore with food. What don’t you eat right now that you could add in? I only started eating chickpeas, beans and mushrooms when I stopped eating meat. I am so thankful that I discovered these foods. It was out of necessity but I would have missed out on those nutrients had I not.
- Question everything! If someone is selling you something or you see something on TV or socials that is really appealing to you, ask questions. How is it tailored to your body and your genetic make up? How long lasting is it or what are the side effects? Are there wholefoods that can do the same thing as a drug (guaranteed there is without side effects!)
- Remember that every single cell in your body is created by what you put in your mouth. It is no coincidence that junk food causes disease. Add in a serving of fruit or veg when ever you can.
Weight loss is a very personal thing and it is time that we stopped putting our precious bodies in the hands of those who don’t have health as their main intention.
Love your body. Feed it well. Move it often and take control of your healthy human.The Healthy Homosapien.