Anyone else totally confused about food?

Just wondered if anyone else experiences the same confusion about food as I do?

I'm doing Slimming World right now and there is no doubt it focuses the mind and leads to weight loss. But when I look at the ingredients on some of the 'free food' (i.e. Dried pasta sauces, mug shots etc) they contain ingredients which we are told elsewhere are bad, lead to weight gain, and in some cases can have very unpleasant effects on the body.

As another example, fat free natural yoghurt is free, but the ingredients show an 8% sugar content. Surely that is nowhere near as good as milk? And how about things like cracker breads. They contain added sugar, salt and all manner of bits that don't sound appealing. Isn't a slice of homemade whole meal bread better for you?

I just find the whole thing totally confusing and demoralising.

Is it a case of finding what works best for you as an individual?

Reading articles such as this one in the Guardian adds to the confusion especially when it appears to make perfect sense.

I guess like many on here I do not overeat, snack very little (no Easter eggs, take away twice per month, no sugary drinks etc) and take regular exercise, but face this constant battle with weight. 

Sorry for the rant, hope you dint mind. Wondered what others thoughts are and how/if you overcame the confusion?


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70 Replies

  • I don't know much about slimming world but find 'everything in moderation' a good mantra 😊 I follow a calorie counted plan where I count portions ("healthy helpings") and it is working for me. BUT I was always a 'healthy eater' so found I had to cut portion size. Now when I go out to eat or on holiday I eat less overall. In other words I have created good habits. 😊

    Nutrition is a very complex science, and everyone is different, but finding the best eating plan for YOU is a major factor in weight loss. If Slimming World is working and you feel you can keep it up for PERMANENT health and fitness then I wouldn't worry. 😊

    Good luck! 

  • Paul Jaminet declares a moderate amount of fructose is less than one ounce per day.

  • It is really interesting that he advocates eating a fair amount of potato or rice but not calorie-rich legumes.

  • The focus is on eating low-toxicity carbohydrates, which in the case of potato or rice must include prevention of spiking insulin by adding plenty of acid such as vinegar or lemon juice along with plenty of natural fat as part of a balanced meal.

    The carbohydrate intake he recommends is usually between 100g and 150g per day; less than half of most mainstream guidelines for a maintenance eating plan. Below this optimal range the body can make up the deficit from the other macro-nutrients, above the optimal will result in lipogenesis.

  • The new plate suggests - "About 1 pound [0.45 kg] of safe starches, such as white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and taro" that seems loads! Interesting about adding acids foods :)

  • I think you should look up your yoghurt online to check syns. I once bought a fat free pack of yoghurts thinking they'd be free, but they turned out to be 9.5syns a pot!!

    The general rule with slimming world is that 1/3 of your plate and most snacks should be 'superfree' to fill your stomach with low cal foods and leave less space for free foods. Free foods are also foods considered to be filling, but that aren't low cal (I.e. pasta and meats) which might be things you are ordinarily told to portion control on any other diet. Slimming world thinks you will feel fuller from eating them, so you're less likely to snack on unhealthy things.

    Things that have a high calorie content but aren't filling contain syns. Sugar and fat basically. Things you might overindulge is also have syns (fruit is syn free, but smoothies aren't).

    Personally I didn't like Slimming world because of all the fake food involved. I found it frustrating to be told nuts were bad for you but aspartame is good.

  • I should add that our Slimming world leader explained it really is just a calorie controlled diet, but instead of getting you to count calories, they just want you to learn foods that fill you up.

    Unfortunately things like bread can be easy to eat too much of... But crackers are quite filling and very low cal.

  • I tried slimming world  but didn't get on with it and didn't like any of the recipes etc.  I think we know what's good and what to be careful about in our diet. My fitness pal has helped me look at portions and the scanner is great . I like to review the  amount of fats and sugars taken in a day.  Things like SW just confused me. I'm so happy to be away from all of that and doing it slowly and sensibly.  Doing exercise has been a really important change as it helps my motivation. And before I stuff that big slice of cake into my mouth I stop and think about my next weigh in which is free and you get lots of support.  

  • "I think we know what's good and what to be careful about in our diet" I disagree; I think many people are attempting to follow a low-fat diet because that's what they've been encouraged to do, whereas the body actually uses twice as much energy in the form of fat compared to carbohydrate.

  • sticking yo less than 150 g total carbohydrate is VERY difficult and in my experience not sustainable long term 

  • It involves eating real food instead of processed food; it's very doable and enjoyable.

  • i have to disagree 😕 Having done research and spoken to a dietician the advice of setting a figure is unrealistic, rather carbohydrate servings should be worked out as a percentage of your daily intake. 

    I think it's the proportion in relation to everything else that's important. And also if it's simple or complex sugars. To expect someone who is new to healthy eating to cut back so drastically is ambitious and unrealistic, and very likely to fail. Sorry to disagree Concerned 

  • Debate is healthy.

    150g carbohydrate is only about a fruit juice short of what is recommended by BHF/NHS for a 1500 kcal diet.

  • I follow the BHF plan but on 1200 calories, and struggle to keep below 160-180g carbohydrate, and I don't have a sweet tooth!! I'm not worried as I'm losing weight and hope to follow the guidelines for life 😊

    I do agree there are so many hidden sugars in food, and making everyone more aware is a good thing 😊

  • All carbohydrate is turned to glucose in the body; many complex carbohydrates do so quicker than table sugar. This may be the most hidden sugar of all.

  • Theoretically, let's say you've been losing a pound per week, that's about 500 kcal of body fat used per day. To keep the same proportions you'd increase your natural fat intake by a further 500 kcal per day to maintain.

    Most people would scale all of the macro-nutrients up, spoil the balance, and recommence yo-yo dieting.

  • I agree with concerned that keeping carb intake to under 150gms per day is very doable. I have been managing this for 4 weeks now averaging around 30 gms per day. I have cut out bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and obviously cakes! It is about finding what works for you, I cannot cope with the high fat part of a lchf diet but I am finding a level that suits my body and continues to reduce my weight:-)

  • You have done really well John, 😊

  • Thank you Anna :-) I could not have done it without the support and advice from this group though, I really mean that. Just reading through the posts and hearing what others have done to keep their motivation going has been so important and educational too. I have read through pretty much every type of diet and their pros and cons, tried different things to see how it affects me and read how others have done. 

    I want to be in the situation where my food selection and portion sizes are second nature to me so that I do not have to worry about letting things slide again. 

    I cannot believe that today I worked hard in the garden for 7 hours! Apart from my back being a little sore from lots of digging I had no pains in my joints and still had lots of energy at the end of the day :-) This most certainly would not have been the case 12 weeks ago!

    Thank you for all of your encouragement too Anna, have a lovely weekend :-) John

  • And you John, it is a great feeling 😊 Happy Gardening!

  • kantara71 if you eat no bread or rice or potato what would you suggest I take for my pack lunch to work everyday? I'm really in need of some advice🤔

  • Green leaves, such as romaine lettuce, make good wraps.

    Personally I would still include some low Gi carbs such as peas and sweetcorn, oatcakes or quinoa.

  • Concerned thanks for the tips🙂

  • Hi Prince,

    If you are looking to eat less of bread, rice, potato, pasta then I would suggest you take a salad with maybe whatever you would put inside your sandwich, eg, cheese,ham, chicken etc. 

    To replace rice I now use granulated brocolli/cabbage/cauliflour, made mainly from the stalks I would have thrown away, to replace potatoes I just add more veggies.

    I don't bother to replace bread, I just do not have it and increase whatever I would have put inside it a sandwich.

    I am keeping to the calorie allowances, designed to lose weight, but I am just not getting so many of the calories from carbohydrates.

    I track everything I consume, including drinks, snacks, dressings, sauces etc, for the fat, carbohydrate and protein value so that I can see where I may be going wrong if something does not agree with me.

    Hope this helps :-) John

  • kantara71 thanks for your help, I will use your advice 🙂

  • I hope you aren't too sore today John ;-)

  • Not too bad thanks! I seem to have lots more energy since losing 15kgs and changing how my daily calories are made up, i.e. less carbs! The rain obliged overnight, to help the newly planted shrubs and flowers etc. and hoping for some sunshine today to continue the "project", great work out though :-)

  • Ps love my garden aswell

  • kantara71 i have kept a food diary today, you seem very knowledgeable I hope you don't mind if I list it, I'm 56yr old lady, bus driver & not very confident with diets! I had two boiled eggs breakfast, satsuma mid morning, humous with baby corn& mange tout lunch, two ryvita with cheese spend mid afternoon & salmon fillet with broad beans for dinner, plus one jar of cockles, I only drink water all day, no caffeine drinks, I'm about 2 stones over weight but I don't seem to be loosing! I do 60 sit ups a night! Could you help? Ps I've only been dieting for ten days, after over eating for a long time! I am motivated but clueless, would love help

  • Hi Prince56,

    I am not so much knowledgeable, but I have certainly learned what seems to work for me. 

    Looking at what you have said you ate then there does not seem too much wrong with that.

    If your weight is not shifting then I would suggest that you look at your portion sizes and also your total calorie consumption. Also make sure you are not cheating!

    Write absolutely everything down and add up your calories and macro nutrients every day then you can identify where the problems are. Oh and if you drink alcohol then add these on as well. It goes without saying that I would suggest you cut out sugar or any products containing added sugars from your diet.

    From my own point of view I was recommended, from the BMI charts to keep to a daily intake of 1900 calories. 

    I have read about the RMR, my Resting Metabolic Rate, and for my age, height and weight it was around 1800, so clearly by keeping to the BMI guidelines I would not lose weight.

    I have kept to between 1400-1600 calories a day and I have steadily lost weight, 33lbs over 12 weeks now, I started with the healthy eating plate as suggested on the 12 week plan and gradually fine tuned it to suit myself.

    So now I try and keep my carbohydrate down to below 50g a day, I am not getting obsessed with the LCHF way like some other websites seem to, but I can see the benefits of reducing my carbohydrate intake to much lower than the RI level of around 250g. I get most of those carbs from fresh vegetables. 

    My protein and fat intakes are not too different from the RI recommendations but I do eat butter, cheese and olive oils, apparently these are supposed to be "bad" for me? 

    Prince, read about everything but make your own mind up about what works for you :-) John

  • Thank you so much, I will read up on all the information you have given, I think loosing weight needs a lot of reading! Going to the library on my lunch break! I've got myself a soup maker so I've made carrot & spinach soup with water &I a stock cube to take to work instead of sandwiches, it tastes delicious!

  • Like kantara71  suggests keep an accurate record of your calories and consumption. Without knowing portion size it's difficult to comment, but it seems very little to eat 😕 I have found if I don't eat enough then I am setting myself up to fail 😕 It is worth doing some research to find the correct balance of calories in and out for long term weight loss and management 😊

    Good luck 😊

  • Anna61 thank you for your reply I agree I need to read up on the calorific value of what I'm eating, I always read labels on carton etc but raw & unprocessed stuff like meat I'm not knowledgeable! I'm 13days in on my diet, went to my mums for the big weigh in &I had not lost an ounce! So I've made carrot & spinach soup for work tomorrow!! I have not cheated once, so must be going wrong somewhere, but still very motivated!

  • It could be you are not eating enough, I know it sounds contrary, but sometimes your body can go into 'starvation' mode if you eat less than 800-1000 calories 😕 

    If you find it a bother to count calories you could look at the British Heart Foundation website, their plan counts portions, (slices of bread, pieces of fruit, etc ) which I find it much simpler 😊 

    Good luck! 

  • @anna66 thank you I will look at the site, my mum said my face looked slimmer & my trousers are not as tight so I felt sure I'd lost weight! I think you could be right! I'm not going to weigh myself again for a while! Thanks again, loving the support 🙂

  • My husband and I were doing really well and then stopped losing weight. We were eating about 1200 cals a day. I read something about not eating enough and we upped it to around 1400 and I've started losing again - quite a lot actually. It's definitely true that you can eat too little.

  • That's great that you ate losing agsin 😊 It seems contrary but if it works 😊😊😊

  • I try to stick to myfitnesspal183g carbs I'm usually below it. But for me even that is a big thing, the same with fat protein sugar fibre etc im usually below my allowance , not by much but it's working for me 😀

  • Sorry i just checked it's 181g for carbs x

  • Same here, I manage but don't find it easy, especially with the sugar in fruits which really seem to bump it up! 

  • I have to admit i don't eat a lot of fruit it blow's me up to much, and i'm not really into heavy information about nutrients etc i stick to basics. I must admit I've learnt a lot from myfitnesspal the calories sugar carbs etc wow i really ate and drank too many including fresh orange juice. I'm lucky i love veg and I'm not into adding cream or yogurt into soups or meals, onwards and downwards, can you remember who started that saying on here?  slow and steady wins the day what's doable for some doesn't mean it's doable for all lol I hope i spelt it properly I've got fibro fog xx Rosie 😁👍

  • We are doing really well if you start to think about the calories in some things like cakes or even breakfast cereal. . . 

    Yes, onwards and downwards 😊

  • I don't have cakes or biscuits scones all my favourite food i feel i have to go without just until i feel i have the will power to you said we've already started to change our mindset on food.My favourite cereal is alpen but I'm greedy with it so i just have toast(that's where most of my carbs come from) to make up for it i have 2 alpen light bars 70 cals for lunch along with the huds sugar free jelly stir frys ands stews no potatoes just veg for dinner or tuna, egg or ham sandwich quite dull really and a piece of chocolate and green tea for supper lol I'm always looking for tips from the group and there's a lot of friendly people out there we're never too old to learn night night Rosie xx

  • As long as it's working rosie-2015  that's what matters 😊 

    Have a good weekend

  • Thank you for posting the Guardian article, it's a very interesting summary. I've read most of the books mentioned and I recommend them, if you have the time. 

    Nutrition and human biochemistry are very complicated and we are finding out more about them all the time. Slimming World was founded in the early 70s, so some of its ideas may be out of date now, but if it works for you, then stick with it.

     Sorry to hear you are feeling confused and demoralised. I think you are right in that you have to find what works for you. i try to stick to unprocessed whole foods, with a moderately  low amount of carbohydrates overall, as I am not as active as I used to be.

  • Thanks for the link, and you are right, it does make complete sense! 

  • You're an inspiration kantara71 , thanks so much for your info snippets they are really useful!

  • I think terms like 'low' and 'high' are misleading 😕 No wonder you are confused weightaminute ! 

    I am eating smaller amounts of everything calorific and more vegetables salad and fruit, (more not lots!) I feel really well, and have good "digestive transit" which has been a problem on every other diet I have tried, especially the low carb diet. It's not a one size fits all, finding the right eating plan for you is what's important. Sorry if you are even more confused!!! 

  • Wow! Thank you all for such comprehensive replies.

    It's interesting to read your different takes on how to loose weight sensibly. Low carb seems a common thread, but surpringly this is a mainstay if Slimming  World.

  • Good luck weightaminute 😊 Keep us posted with your progress 😊

  • Going low carb may only needed if you have become insulin resistant, which means that your body can't cope well with much carbohydrate. It's an increasing problem, tending to show up more as you age, because of the increasing amount of processed carbs we now eat. If you stick to high fibre, unprocessed carbs you should be OK, but if you're struggling with your weight, it's worth looking into.

  • your doing too much thinking. Trust in the plan, follow it properly, as the books tell you and stay to group as this is where your help is. Don't keep questioning the whys and wherefors, just DO it, and you will find you will lose weight. It works. All this questioning is unproductive, ill bet you don't didn't do that before you needed a weight loss plan. keep it simple - stick to SW - succeed !

  • Yeah I know libbydaniels88 , but it's the scientist in me that questions 😀 I know I'll lose weight on SW, lost 3 stones a few years ago, but then it all comes back on.

    I don't consider myself an I overeater, don't drink (can't) and most food is homemade with low fat ingredients.

    So that suggests something else happening in my body that means I gain weight, and I find it fascinating.

    Doesn't particularly help with weight loss thin, and like you say, I will lose weight with SW so get on with it ;)

    But once I'm where I want to be I need to switch to a 'normal' way of eatingto maintain weight, as SW whatever they say certainly is no way to continue long term.. Think it will be a suck it and see approach .

  • weight doesn't "go back on" as you put it. What happens is, you stop going to weekly group, stop getting weighed and start eating in the same way as before....thats why the weight goes back on, and will do with any diet. When calories increase, weight increases -,simple as -

    answer - go back to SW, lose weight, go every week DONT get complacent, and you will only need to pay for class for that week you are either over or under the 3 lb safe level. You take it off again, by sticking to plan, you go every week and you don't pay

    Its like that old saying - if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got ! 😊

  • I too find this whole good foods thing confusing, I work all day. So need to take a packed lunch and sometimes dinner with me, I'm on week two of 12 week plan & running out of ideas on what I should eat that is quick and transportable that is not full of sugar or bad foods, any help ?

  • So wanted to read all the article but got a bit lost after a while.  It is all very confusing. I just get the idea that it must be everything in moderation. I did do the Rosemary Conley Low Fat diet years ago and it worked,  then did Weight Watchers points and that worked, then did myfitnesspal calorie counting and that worked. With me its definitely a lifestyle change that is need and I think what you say is correct it is finding what works best for you as an individual. I don't think I could stay on a low fat/carb/sugar diet for the rest of my life. So as long as I can manage portion control and only have a little of the good stuff I am hoping that will keep my weight under control and keep me healthy.

  • Some of the reading did get a bit heavy, but I think the take home message is that we cant rely 100 % on what is supposed to be expert advice, and that nutritional guidelines have had some influence by the food industry not purely health concerns. I have some sympathy with dieticians, nutritionists and doctors who thought the advice they have been giving for the last 30 odd years was based on sound scientific evidence and it must be very hard to find out that the research had many flaws which render it scientifically unproven. Change for most people is difficult and this rocks the foundation of their professional judgement, so it's not surprising that they are reluctant to change their advice. 

    There also seems to be insufficient long term evidence at present to absolutely prove that saturated fat is ok (as part of a healthy diet, not to gorge on!)  though it's starting to look that way, so I can see why they are reluctant to take a u turn at the moment. 

    My guess is that it will be 10 or more years before there is enough solid evidence to influence major changes in the recommendations though the recent change of advice re sugar is a welcome step in the right direction. So until that happens my plan is to eat as little processed foods as possible as this seems to be where most of the problems started whatever turns out to be the most evil offender!

  • Think your right muffintop67.

    I'm looking around now for some peer reviewed research into persistent dieters - those of us who have tried to lose weight, several ways, over several years.

    We all know that the first time we diet we lose stacks of weight, but the more you diet, the harder it is and the slower it is for the weight to come off. It's like fighting your body, I often think my body says after a diet 'yeah! Out of starvation mode, now here we go!'

    I guess it is in weight watchers, slimming world et al. Interests for us to keep on going back; the repeat business idea. SW do allow you to attend for free if your +/- 3lb of target so I think this shows a commitment from them to you maintaining weight loss, but they will know a large percentage of members won't get to target and won't maintain at target.

    So, longer term it's important to find out what part of our eating increases and maintains our weight. I'm no angel when it comes to food, and I know that the time from 7pm is a real danger zone for me (chocolate time). But that aside there must be something else happening in my body. We are all chemical factories and I suppose the reactions happen slightly differently in all of us.

    I often wonder if, as I have been on the larger size from when I was 10, did I hit puberty and my body then think that the size I was was 'normal' I'm now 44) Perhaps it's a case of resetting the clock, which I guess could take years rather than ,I guess.

    Perhaps ultimately it's down to how we feel? What makes us not feel sleepy, want to exercise and what clothes do we want to fit into? We are not all going to be a perfect BMI but so long as we eat good, natural, healthy food (most of the time), exercise, feel comfortable both in our body and clothes, then that's what we need to aim for.

    Perhaps this post should be called Slimmers Anomymous 😃 ?

    Sorry, rambling! 

  • I agree with you, weightaminute it is up to us to know our bodies and find a plan that works for us. The most successful weight loss I had was with the old WW plan that counts portions, but very low bread, which I love, so I didn't find it sustainable. The plan I follow now also counts portions but I am allowed enough bread to (hopefully) follow long term. Not huge amounts, but enough for a sandwich at lunch and some pasta for dinner. It is a question of knowing yourself and your habits, and re-training. And enjoying the benefits! 

    Good luck, and interesting debate 😊

  • You made some good points weightaminute . Everyone is different and as long as you are as healthy as possible then I think that is the most important thing.

  • If you're looking for peer reviewed research, you could try PubMed,

  • Thanks Penelope, interesting both low-carb and low-fat diets are most effective and show similar results.

  • The results certainly show that the human body is very adaptable, but I wonder if either are very good for long term health.

    The conclusion from the second study that "minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention" may be a better message to go with.

  • Yes Penel, certainly agree with that. I suspect that using low-carb or low-fat diets to lose weight more quickly are effective, but in the long term it is the 'minimally processed foods' message that is the one to go with.

    Fascinating comments from everyone.

  • Just wanted to say thanks for such a fascinating thread everyone. I'm still confused, but I think the thread certainly helped me to see things more clearly. 

    The level of support between you all is astonishing and something members of the group should, I think, be very proud of. 

  • If you want to learn more about how food affects our bodies, hormones etc, have a read of Robert Lustig's book "Fat Chance". He's an American obesity expert. The book explains the science in a very readable manner and includes some of the latest research. He writes about healthy eating but is not selling a diet book! 

  • Thank you, always looking to learn more 😊

  • Have just read this thread. All fascinating but still leaves me very confused as to what I should be eating.(or rather shouldn't)

  • Hello, I agree that all the different diet ideas floating about are very confusing.

    For me, losing weight is fundamentally about calories. Consume fewer of them than you burn off through daily living and you lose weight. Consume more, and you put it on. If you ate 1200 calories a day in the most healthy foods in the world, you would lose weight. However, if you ate 1200 calories a day in chocolate bars you would lose exactly the same amount of weight. You'd be less healthy, and probably hungrier, but your weight loss would be the same. Because calories are all that really matter when it comes to weight.

    In exactly the same way, over consumption of the most nutitious foods will make you put weight on. This explains why some healthy eating gurus are actually quite large!

    All the advice around different foods is, I think, just ideas around what makes it easier to cut our calories intake, and help keep us healthy while the actual volume of food we consume is reduced. Whatever method helps you do that for long enough to get our weight down is the one that is best for you.

  • tried slimming world stuck to exactly what they said and put on 2 lb that month

    trying a glass of warm water ( not cold) first thing low carb think it is trying to find a system that suits your body, lost almost half a stone this week

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