The truth dietitians won’t tell you about fad diets

Here’s a thing:  Diet books for dogs.

Because why limit the dieting industry to humans, when there’s a whole market out there for overweight, guilt-ridden, food focused dogs?

diet books for dogs

Now they can unlock their ancestral diet too.  Or go vegetarian (I’m no dog nutritionist here, but seriously?).  And someone very passionate about canine diets, felt the need to write a ‘complete guide’ to not eating poop.  Yes they did.

It’s further evidence that the diet industry is showing no signs of easing up.  And do you know what?  My sensible, measured dietitian-ness can’t fight it any longer. I’ve decided it’s time I ditched the goody-two-shoes routine and jumped aboard that juggernaut.

Because nobody wants to read about how small, sustainable changes to your eating habits can help you lose weight and improve your long term health.  Not even dogs.  What we’re searching for is the dietary holy grail: a revolutionary new eating program that melts away kilos, cures chronic diseases and doubles as religion.

The key to fad diet success is pretty simple – as you can see from my nifty graphic below.

Fad Diet Writing 101

Sounds pretty awesome – right?  A lot more happening than ‘eat less crap and exercise more’.

But fad diets don’t just look and sound good.  The truth is that they’re benefiting us in more ways than we can imagine.  And the new, edgy, laser-tooth-whitened me is here to let you in on what the DAA and the Government have been trying to cover up for YEARS:

 1.  Fad diets help people lose weight and feel happy

Every year, millions of people shed millions of kilos of lard on fad diets.  And while they’re doing so they feel FANTASTIC.  It’s hard to miss how fantastic they feel, because they tell anyone and EVERYONE who will listen, and the best ones even get to go on TV. The giddy joy of fitting back into your old skinny jeans and living on ketones are a pretty heady combination.

But don’t feel bad if your friend is looking suddenly more buffed than you since they kicked their toxic sugar habit.  The flip-side to stringent diets is that they just aren’t sustainable for 98.7% of those who try them**.  You’ll be able to get your own back a few months later, when they’re back in their fat pants and no longer sporting that zealous, invincible look. When you pop over for coffee, just stare a little too long at the packet of biscuits on the bench, and then ask ‘hey how’s your sugar-free diet going?’.

**figure based on random sample of my dieting friends over past 25 years

2.  Fad Diets Are Good For The Economy

Because they sell books.  Billions of them!  And you can’t stand an ebook proudly on your coffee table as a conversation starter.  Fad diets are what keeps the publishing and printing businesses afloat, and keeps people in jobs.   And it doesn’t end there.

dietbook montage

With all of these sensational, ground-breaking new diets, comes the demand for sensational, groundbreaking new products – Himalayan Sea Buckthorn Seed Oilhome fermenting kits, and fart-proof underwear (I know you think I’m joking but check this shit out).  And let’s not forget the celebrities, shonky doctors and wellness coaches whose pictures grace the covers.  Their maca powder habits and alkalised water deliveries keep the health food industry in business, which in turn sells more kooky books, which in turn drives sales of carb-free pasta and dairy-free-soy-free-real-cheddar-taste-without-the-cheese kale chips.  And who can argue with that logic?

kale chips

3.  Fad diets put food on the table for desperate TV programming executives

Just imagine where those poor souls would be, without the constant turnover of new fad diets to feed the 24 hour news cycle?  Very short on low-brow current affairs and breakfast ‘news’ segments, is where.   And in the absence of such tasty programming morsels, we’d probably be subjected to more awful news about war, disease and famine. Which would make us so miserable we’d just gorge ourselves on more biscuits and cake, and get even fatter and more disgusting.

4.  Fad diets make for excellent dinner party and water cooler conversations

Which helps us connect with like-minded suckers individuals who’re interested in any new fad innovations in nutritional science.  Next time you’re stuck for conversation, just try this:

Simply combine the phrase ‘I read recently’ or ‘my trainer says’ or ‘many people now believe’ with any old rubbish, and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of credibility and a sure-fire conversation starter. For example:

‘I can’t believe you still eat carrots.  I read recently they’re worse than soft drink’

‘Gee I’m glad they do a paleo all day breakfast here – my trainer says I shouldn’t eat gluten after 4pm on weekdays’

‘I wouldn’t touch dairy with a barge-pole these days.  Many people now believe it causes early puberty, autism spectrum disorder and flabby upper arms’

5.  Fad Diets give stupid people a chance to be famous and make money

My final point on this matter may sound a little harsh, I know.  But doesn’t everyone deserve a chance to have their day in the sun?  Why should stupid people miss out?

And here, I give you Freelee the banana girl – a raw, vegan diet coach who has invented the Mono diet.  She’s shed 20kg by eating ANYTHING SHE WANTS (as long as it’s low fat, raw and vegan that is), in ANY AMOUNT.  The catch is that she only eats one type of food at each meal. NB. If you are contemplating watching this clip, proceed with caution, and please note these are 4 minutes of your life you will never get get back.

And on the subject of stupidity, I couldn’t finish up here without introducing Alicia Sliverstone and her books The Kind Mama and The Kind Diet.  

#1 New York Times bestseller Written for the many people out there who prefer to get their dietary, fertility and medical advice from a celebrity instead of a doctor – it’s apparently topped the New York Times Best Seller list.  Now that’s what I call #booksales.

But before you race out and get your own copy, do me a favour and check out this review, which is quite frankly, more useful and entertaining than both her books put together.

*   *   *

 

 

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And then there were five

Life in our household used to be a bit mad.  And by mad, I mean up and down like a yo-yo with an average noise level rated as extreme.  It was also mad as in one minute we’re all getting along swimmingly and the next minute it’s fisticuffs.  I think the madness level was pretty much on par, for a family with two young children.

And then, along came Billie.

Along came BillieBillie who has impulse control issues and a penchant for destruction.  Billie with her fetish for eating pencils, the children’s soft toys, and human food (straight off the table).  If she’s not supposed to have it, you can bet she wants it – with every fibre of her being.

Billie is what you might call a keen gardener.  In fact keen is an understatement – I’d venture she’s more of a fervid gardener.  She has a grand vision for our back yard, and in this vision, succulents just will not be tolerated.  The ones in pots are toppled, and those in the garden beds are enthusiastically chomped apon.   I like to think that her online dating profile might go something along the lines of:

‘Hi, I’m Billie.  I have a shoe fetish and a penchant for rigorous pruning and excavation work’.

Needless to say, we’ve given the winter veggie garden a miss this year.

Billie is also a keen collector.  She curates and covets the strangest things – such as the awful fluorescent green wig and the Hulk mask from the kids’ dress-up box.  These enigmatic items are so much more tasty and interesting than the dedicated dog chewy toys we bought for her. And her collection continues to grow – so that this week I had to buy her a toy box of her own.

She fills it by slowly appropriating more and more of the kids toys – each desperate dash into the playroom being carefully timed and orchestrated.  She has learnt, you see, that possession is 9/10ths of the law.  And persistence pays off.

naughty billie brady bunch.jpg

And then there’s the food thing.  The problem is that Billie just isn’t that fond of dog food – which is troubling for me as a mother, dietitian and general food enthusiast.  I simply can’t have a skinny dog.

I mix up puppy milk for her every morning (even though she’s technically too old for it now). Sometimes I squat next to her and coo words of encouragement while she eats.   And the other night I even added double cream to her doggy kibble, in an effort to bump up the calories and tempt her little tastebuds.

I know – she’s a Whippet, and they’re skinny right?  But I can’t seem to help it – I’m a feeder.

I can, however, confirm that she is growing, because last Friday when I tried to bath her in the laundry sink, she didn’t really fit anymore.  There was a lot of scrabbling, splashing, slipping around and sweary outbursts until we finally emerged  – both utterly flustered and dripping wet.   It was not unlike trying to bath a baby giraffe.

Another development of late is that my weekly purchases of paper towel and disinfectant wipes are slowing, and I can’t remember the last time I stepped in a puddle of urine.  In fact, Billie has recently taken to tapping at the back door to go out for a wee. Can I tell you how exciting that is?!  To me, it’s a bit like finding a forgotten fifty in my jeans pocket.

What - they do dog graduation certificates now?

What – they do dog graduation certificates now?

The main reason she’s learnt to do this, of course, is the treaties.  If we learnt nothing else from puppy pre-school, we learnt that treaties are the currency Billie works on.  Thanks to treaties she can also sit, and drop, and wait at the road.  Which is why my pockets are always full of liver treats these days (no forgotten fifties to be found).

It’s also the reason why the people at City Farmers LOVE me.

And when I add up all the food, the paraphernalia, puppy pre-school lessons, kennel make-over expenses, doggie parkers (plural, because she ate the first one), vet bills and registration ..

…well, the truth is that I don’t.  I think it would give me a small coronary to see the final figure.  And that wouldn’t achieve much now would it?

The cost of Billie

So what’s life like with a Billie in the family?  It’s a little bit more mad than before, but it’s good.

It’s good to see the kids race out to greet her when we get home, and to hear her skidding around the house at top speed first thing in the morning.  I secretly love it when she goes missing at night, and I find her quietly snuggled up and eyeing me sheepishly from one of the kids’ beds.  And she gets us out of the house and walking every day.  She reminds me that what really matters isn’t that the beds are made or that the floor is mopped. Housework will always be there tomorrow.

We’re just so in love with our kleptomaniac, hyperactive, little bony-assed dog, it’s insane.

Billie goes to the park

 

 

 

 

 

It’s cool to be a bit crap

With a short (but welcome) burst of school and kinder again this week, I’ve found myself taking stock of my winning and non-so-winning moments these school holidays.

Let’s start with my great moments – the ones where I was patient, creative and engaged with the children.  I baked with them (to be honest, it was more for them than with them).   I painted and crafted with them (and then finished their projects when they got bored and drifted off).  I took them to the library, to live theatre and the movies.  I spent a whole day making over their bedroom until it was fit for the pages of a glossy coffee table magazine.  I even strapped my bewildered feet into ice skates for the first time ever, in a surprise mother-daughter bonding session.

Looks pretty impressive on paper, doesn’t it?

School holiday moments (the good ones)

My feel-good school holiday montage

But in the interests of transparency, I’ll also share some of my not-so-great moments. Such as the three days straight where it rained pretty much constantly, and the puppy crapped and pissed in the house a lot.  On those days, the children fought and sulked, I yelled (even though I realise it’s not cool), and frequently resorted to eating chocolate hiding behind the pantry door.  To be honest, I was a bit of a grumpy cow.

And what made my mood even more morose was that all of my friends seemed to be doing interesting, fun-looking stuff on Facebook and Instagram.  I wondered why I was stuck in a funk at home, while everyone else was (apparently) exploring Melbourne and revelling in their children’s company?

Social media can be a bugger like that at times.  Like when you’ve just stepped backwards into a puddle of urine (again) and thrown the dishcloth dramatically across the kitchen and bellowed WHY IS THE DOG INSIDE THE HOUSE AGAIN?  AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO EVER TAKES HER OUTSIDE FOR A WEE!!? At times like this, it can seem like everyone is a more creative, proactive and fun parent than you.

creative parenting

What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I think to fashion superhero elements into the children’s clothing this morning? (image: Abbey Hendrickson)

But looking back on those grumpy cow moments, I’ve decided to cut myself a bit of slack, because the truth is that being in charge of little people doesn’t always make for a relaxing, uplifting experience.  At times it can be exhausting and (is it okay to say this?) pretty boring. I’m just not that into hide and seek. Or playing memory match, with the house a veritable pigsty around me.  Does that make me a crap parent?

What I suspect is that everyone has their crap parent moments.  We all lose the plot now and again, and say things we regret as soon as the words are out of our mouth (even the most excruciatingly patient, earth-mother types).  It’s just that we generally don’t broadcast them on social media.

And in the parenting stakes, I’m pretty sure it’s okay to be a bit crap now and then.  We’re human, after all.

So next time you read that blog post – from the amazing, inspiring tree change family who live in the idyllic farmhouse and gather organic vegetables, which they cook in their rustic kitchen and eat at their hand-crafted, reclaimed timber dining table every night … just imagine what doesn’t make it into the blog.

Like maybe sometimes the children refuse to wear the romantic gumboots and be photographed picking berries, and instead chuck an enormous tantrum and demand to play on their mother’s iphone, which she is constantly shoving in their face at every instagramable opportunity.

You’ve got to admit – it’s kind of fun to conjure up.

gumboots are so hot right now

Empty gumboots (image: Monica Hoinkis)

 

 

NEWS FLASH: Impossible Quiche Saves Day

I’m sitting on the couch, snatching a moment of peace with my coffee and computer. The weather’s grey and drizzly, the puppy’s sprawled in the plush bean bag by the heater (I’ve conceded defeat on that one), and the room is filled with the loud tick-tock of a metronome.  One of the kids was playing on the keyboard, but has since scuttled off elsewhere, leaving just the oppressive tick, tock, tick, tock.  And so goes my Thursday afternoon.

dog comaWe’re almost a week into the holidays, and my patience is waning.  I’m trying to embrace the mess, but really I’m not fooling anyone.  I’ve reverted to ‘take no crap’ mode.  In the car just now I presented them with the facts: If you don’t stop arguing I’m going to lose the plot!  Of course, what I really wanted to say was I’m dangerously close to LOSING MY SHIT.

…< big breath >….

The addition of our newest family member – the delightful Billie – has added an extra level of intensity these school holidays.   It’s been wonderful watching the kids rolling on the grass with her, lovingly making her dinner and cooing to her while she laps up her puppy milk. And against house rules, we’ve engaged in many indulgent, late-night couch snuggles.  She’s beautiful.

billie on bean bag

With the territory though, has come a few not-so-great moments.  There’s the early mornings which always start with paper towel, Pine-O-Clean and rubber gloves.  And there’s the constant stream of ‘Billie NO!’ ‘NO SHOES!’ and ‘No BITE!’ exclamations throughout the day.  Beautiful, and kind of exhausting.

Because of the puppy we’ve stayed close to home this week, and I’ve been donning the apron and getting my Nigella on a bit.  So while I’m inspired, here’s one thing I’ve been meaning to do for ages:  I want to share the magic of The Impossible Quiche.

Don’t worry – I haven’t gone all ‘easy, quick meals for mums’ on you.  I’m just really loving this quiche right now – it’s dead simple and bloody delicious.

The ‘impossible’ component is the lack of any pastry, yet the oddly pastry-like end product.  And the bit I’m amazed by is that it’s all light and fluffy, rather than all eggy and wet like your traditional frittata.  As long as you have the integral ingredients of eggs, milk, flour and cheese, you can make up the rest depending on the contents of your fridge.

I also tried this with gluten free flour, and it still worked beautifully.  The kids and my ‘eggs are not dinner’ husband all gave it their seal of approval.  And (be still my beating heart!) it even holds up well for lunch the following day.

Behold.. The Impossible Quiche (thanks Anna!)

The Impossible Quiche

Core ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 1/4 cups milk

Discretional ingredients:

Spring onion / onion / any vaguely onion-like vegetable in arms reach

Chorizo / ham / bacon / last night’s leftover sausages

Cherry tomatoes / capsicum / sun-dried tomatoes / spinach leaves / any old crap from the crisper

Basil / parsley / neither

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 celsius and grease a large, round, quichey-looking dish (I use a non-stick fluted metal pie dish)
  2. Heat oil and cook spring onion lightly, then add tomato / ham / other crisper remnants and cook down for a few minutes
  3. Whisk eggs, milk and flour in a bowl, then stir in cheese and add vegetable mixture from the pan.  Season, add herbs.
  4. Pour mixture into quiche dish and bake for ~40 minutes, until golden on top and not wobbly in the centre.  Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice and serve with a green salad (the kids may baulk – but at least you tried)
  6. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and bask in the glory of the impossible quiche.

Go you.

wine

ps. It also helps to close your eyes and pretend you’re sitting in a wine bar
(Image: Judy Merrilll-Smith)

Hi, I’m the new puppy

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m model no. WHIPPET-14T.  I’m fitted with standard soulful grey eyes, and yes, I am very cute.

WHIPPET-14T

Care instructions:

During my first few days at home with you, you’ll feel like an anxious first-time mother with a precious newborn.  I’ll cry at night time, and catapult myself toward the laundry door out of desperation and anxiety, causing you to feel heartless for wrenching me from my mother’s breast.  And as you get up to comfort me, you’ll remember with horror, the broken sleep that comes with a newborn.  I’m pretty much as demanding, but you can’t breastfeed me to sleep.

To compound your anxiety, I’ll refuse to eat dog food or drink water, but I’ll delight in eating anything which is not a foodstuff.  Please see the ‘traffic light’ guide below for my preferences.

Puppy diet preferences - days 1-3

It’s universally accepted that puppies love to chew shoes – but did you know this is not limited to inanimate shoes?  I much prefer moving shoes (with real feet in them) due to their interactive nature, and the added element of potentially tripping the big person inside them.  Awesome.

If there are no shoes available, I’ll settle for odd socks, pyjamas or underwear.

shoe fetish Specifications:

The model you have purchased includes variable speed control (options being ‘ON’, ‘OFF’ and ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’).

In ‘ON’ mode, I am pretty intense.  If you plan on getting down low to say hi when I’m ‘ON’, you may want to cover your earlobes and nostrils – I’m fast, and my teeth are needle sharp.

Over the course of a day, be prepared for me to enter into the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ mode at random intervals (during which I have been likened to the lead character from The Wolf of Wall Street, after he’s just snorted five consecutive lines of coke off a prostitute’s buttocks).   In this mode, I enjoy taking flying leaps at your body, and running in crazed circles around the yard at breakneck speed.

'ON' mode

Factory settings mean that the ‘COMPLETELY MENTAL’ phase is followed immediately by the ‘OFF’ phase (this may last for periods of up to 2 hours at a time).  During the ‘OFF’ phase, it is normal for you to wonder what has gone wrong with me, and to poke me to check if I’m still alive.  I won’t wake up.

I generally enjoy solitude when ‘OFF’, and may take to hiding under furniture to achieve this.  However, I’m very adaptable, and can just as easily complete an ‘OFF’ cycle while sleeping on a small bush.

'do not disturb' mode

‘do not disturb’ mode

 Warnings and troubleshooting

On the first morning, I’ll be so overwhelmed with excitement that I’ll leap out of the child’s arms and land awkwardly, provoking a good 15 minutes of high anxiety as I limp around the kitchen with a potentially broken leg.  You’ll wonder if there is a pet equivalent of the Maternal and Children Health line.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not know what the words ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ mean. I’m especially uninterested in these terms when taken outside in the rain in the small hours of the morning.

You are strongly advised to purchase paper towel and antiseptic wipes in bulk.

A personalised message from your WHIPPET-14T

I’d really love to know more about these things that you scatter around the house at night. Is this an obstacle course?  Are they like lily pads? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to urinate or defecate on them.  As you will have noticed, I’m very careful to wee anywhere but on these.

Tonight's obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Tonight’s obstacle course was really tricky, but I did manage to avoid weeing on the lily pads

Also, thank  you so much for buying all of these colourful, chewy little rubber things for me.  You’ve gone to so much trouble to supply them in each room of the house.  But why do you always remove them from my mouth, as soon as I have my gums around their rubbery goodness?

I love loom bracelets

And finally – that really big dude with the low voice?  The one who thinks dogs should live outside?  Don’t worry – I’m working on him.  Last night when you were out, he let me sit in the lounge room and lick his toes 😉