Did Grandma eat plastic food?

Mine certainly didn’t.  She did eat a lot of things that are now frowned upon, in quantities that defy the government approved dietary principles of today.  And yet strangely enough, she was thin as a rake her entire life, and pretty healthy too.  And her diet didn’t kill her; that was the shock of losing her only daughter that made her give up living.  It was her mind that killed her, not her food.

So what did Grandma eat?  I spent nearly all my school holidays with her as a teenager, so I am well-versed in that subject.

Lamb was pretty popular.  She’d cook up chops in a casserole, and that would last several nights in a row.  This is old fashioned lamb too; not the heart smart, lean cuts.  Sausages were also popular – and they weren’t anything fancy either.  She usually had take-away once a week; either fish and chips, or fried chicken, chips, and a pineapple fritter, cooked by her local store…not a chain fast-food restaurant.

She ate mashed potato, nearly every night, made with full-cream milk and butter.  She used a lot of butter in her cooking.  She ate toast with butter and Vegemite for breakfast most mornings.  Lunch varied; sometimes a sandwich, sometimes leftovers.  She never threw food out; always ate it up.

So, what didn’t she eat?

Not a lot of bread…a loaf would easily last her one week.  Never pasta, and rice was something that turned up in a rice pudding, not a risotto.  She didn’t eat plastic food – the kind of food that has a list of ingredients on the label, half of which are created in laboratories.  She didn’t drink soft drink/soda…it was either tea or water.  And the water came out of a rainwater tank, which always had a faint tang of kerosene (which she used to pour on top to kill mosquitoes).  She didn’t eat breakfast cereal, aside from porridge/oats in the winter, and so avoided all the sugars and flavourings used to make modern cereals attractive.

She grew some of her own food; raspberries, and almonds and tomatoes and beans and peas – I will always remember helping her to shell big bowlfuls of peas.  She made some of her own jams too; apricot and plum, and would sometimes make tomato sauce too, if the crop was plentiful.  She never bought commercially made cake.

Her diet wasn’t exciting, or rich with the food of other cultures, or balanced according to a government promoted guideline.  It was plain,and plentiful, and real.  A bit of bread, some meat, potatoes,  a few different vegetables, a bit of fruit.  Full cream milk, full-fat butter, and white cooking fat if she was frying something.  She walked her dog for a couple of miles every morning, and spent a couple of hours per week in her garden.  She was quite healthy for all but the last two years of her life, which considering she didn’t undertake weight-bearing exercise to strengthen her bones, or maintain muscle tissue was fairly remarkable…or it would be today.  Back when I was young, and spending time with her, most of her counterparts were also in reasonably good health.  Heavily overweight people were rare – the morbidly obese we see today were virtually non-existent then.  And yet we consider our diets to be so much better today?

There are lessons to be learned here.

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How do you lose 6 kilos (13 pounds) in a week?

The answer is simple…you can’t!  Well, short of very expensive plastic surgery.

There has been a tv ad running recently, in which this man talks about his wonderful weight loss system, and confides that he conducted a survey of 8000 participants in this system, who allegedly achieved an average weight loss of 6 kilos per week.    I am assuming that most of them had died (and putrefaction was lowering the weight of the corpse) or they had their legs bitten off by sharks, or something of that nature..or a lot of them had liposuction.

The thing is, whenever someone makes claims like this, refuse to beleive a word of it until you have perused an authenticated (by you, not them) independent study, conducted according to approved scientific protocols.  Aneccdotal evidence (i.e.” my clients have told me this!”) is not scientific or legitimate.  or to put it another way…if anyone had devised a way that consistently enabled people to lose an average of 6 kilos in one week, they would be begging reputable scientists in the exercise physiology/dietetics fields to verify these results, because then that person would patent the method and become a billionaire overnight.  This man is just working on becoming a millionaire by manipulating and deceiving the unwary and desperate into handing over money.

Current scientific thinking tells us that the optimum overall fat loss goal per week is 0.5-1 kilos (1-2 pound).  One of the reasons for this is that there is a physiological reaction to losing fat too quickly.  Those pesky cells we have, decide that we are starving and swing into action to conserve whatever body fat you still have, as well as valuable muscle tissue, and fat loss comes to a screaming halt.  The optimal amounts are precisely those, because they fly under the cells’ radar, and they will let you get away with it.

There is also the fact that you didn’t put the fat on that quickly…it was a slow process (if you tried to gain six kilos in a week, you would be gorging yourself on extremely high-calorie, unhealthy foods, and your body would reject them; i.e. you’d make yourself ill).  So, it has to be an equally steady and consistent process to remove the fat.  You also have to factor in, that in an effective fat-loss program, it includes changes to both eating and exercise habits.

Then there is the muscle tissue aspect.  The more you have (obtained through resistance training) the more calories your body needs to burn to maintain each day (effectively increasing your metabolic rate).  Conversely, when you expend energy (calories) too quickly, some of them come from your muscle tissue, rather than from your body fat.  Hence, you lower your metabolic rate, and make it even harder to lose more weight.

Weight loss is simple; eliminate most, if not all processed food from your diet; get your carbohydrates from vegetable sources; eat lean organic meat (that hasn’t been pumped full of growth hormones) minimise sugar intake (never, ever, EVER eat artificial substitutes; use raw sugar, stevia or honey where sweetening is required), avoid corn syrup like the plague (you do realise corn is what beef-lot cattle are fed, as it fattens them more quickly?), learn to read labels on food packaging.  Then incorporate more physical movement into your life, on a daily basis.  And preferably make it part of your life, not something you see as a chore.  Make good lifestyle changes and fat loss will follow in the footsteps of those changes.

 

But forget about massive overall weight loss in just one week…unless you are so desperate to look lighter on the scales that you really will offer your leg to a shark!