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Reeling from all the diet don'ts

By unknown | Apr 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Alicia Viljoen

Alicia Viljoen

Here is a three-course meal for an anorexic world.

We all know that fat equals death and so much more from all the weight-loss commercials on radio, TV and the newspapers.

Day in and day out it is weight-loss this, that and so much jada, jada, jada! Not many of us could have missed the adverts on weight-loss lane.

Putting the melodrama and paranoia aside, many fellow South Africans are reeling from all these do's and don'ts when it comes to eating.

"Do not eat a big breakfast," one commercial will say. "Do not eat a big dinner," says another. "Eat as little as possible," the others advise.

And, from the rest: "Do not eat less than five meals a day!"

In the end the ensuing confusion looms larger than the rim of my full, half-full or totally empty plate.

So I invite you to a three-course meal because I believe that life is too short to live on grass sprouts and lean Provitas.

For the starter I would have preferred crumpet mushrooms, but today I am in the mood for rugby, chips, biltong and Diet Coke, just to hush my conscience - if you know what I mean.

But these appetisers, paired with the mood I am in, spell a traditional recipe for disaster for most South Africans. We eat what we feel like and appeals to us, and that to our eyes is perfectly fine.

The enemy in this sad, almost tragic scenario is the television. It is so utterly boring that we entertain ourselves by stuffing food down our throats.

According to research in an on-line health magazine children who watch a lot of TV experience more psychological stress.

And evidence is mounting that stress can alter how the brain communicates with the other organs, affecting blood pressure and body fat accumulation and distribution.

This brings me to our main course in this three-course meal for an anorexic world and the root of our obsession with weight.

As Africans become more Westernised more and more people are being subjected to messages in the media of the ideal, thin body type.

The Face of Africa competition is an example of how African role models have changed.

According to the on-line magazine article of a popular fast food chain, TV images or commercials tell us for hours on end that we should lose weight, be thin and buy more stuff because people will like us and we will all be better off for it.

Let me also - taking matters a bit further back - put the blame on our childhood toys or, more specifically, Barbie and the more recent Bratz collection.

These toys form the root of the ideal of materialism, beauty and being thin, making children vulnerable to the media's influences.

Now for the fun part, dessert. Remember we are still on the three-course meal for an anorexic world. And what can be more fun than ripping apart some of society's worst diet myths?

Like apple cider vinegar that is supposed to burn fat ... hardly. According to research the only thing that it burns is the lining of your stomach.

The documentary, The Truth About Food on BBC, tosses the myth about metabolism being slower in the evening as opposed to acting at the same, slow pace in the morning.

To drive the myth further away from our fridges the documentary says our metabolism functions at the same speed throughout the day and night, which confirms that we may eat at any time of the day.

So don't believe everything and anything you read, hear or see in books, radio and TV or you might just die from the misprints and the misinformation.


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