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To question the Eat Well plate?

(307 Posts)
TheGruffaloMother Tue 10-Jan-17 20:32:25

I know it can take an age to filter new evidence down into official advice but am really struggling to fathom why the Eat Well plate hasn't yet changed despite everything I keep seeing in the media suggesting we've known for a while now that eating such a high proportion of carbohydrate isn't necessarily healthy. Is high fat the way to go? High protein? Is the official advice wrong? Do the alternatives offer lasting ways to keep your weight under control?

FutureMrsRanj Tue 10-Jan-17 20:35:05

The NHS takes a while to change its advice on most things, it will get there

Littlepleasures Wed 11-Jan-17 00:06:07

I find it so frustrating. Went on a NHS run diet and fitness 10week programme recently and the old recommendations were still being pushed - 1/3 carbs for heavens sake. An ideal breakfast was seen as cereal and toast. That's a recipe for insulin surges and blood sugar crashing two hours later. Protein rich breakfasts have been proved to keep you full for 4-5 hours.
They did say it was going to be changed soon but I think the carbs are going to stay the same, slight raise in fats and decrease in protein. I may be wrong, don't quote me on it, but I remember thinking it wasn't much of a change. The only positive change I did notice was highlighting the dangers of empty sugars - sugary foods with no other nutritional benefits.

I think the problem is, if the government were to be honest about what was causing the obesity problem, big business would take a hit. E.G. Cereal manufacturers, fast food outlets, junk food producers.....the list is endless.
I'm quite scared. I don't think it's air pollution that's the biggest short term crisis, I think it's the way that food has been tampered with since the 70, causing the bodies of susceptible people to be polluted, leading to the current obesity crisis. Losing weight and staying at a sensible weight is becoming more and more difficult. Weight lost just seems to go back on with more besides. I refuse to believe all us fat people are lazy, greedy, lacking in willpower. Most slim people I know don't seem to have to work at it. We don't call them lazy yet any obese person has probably been dieting all their life. I've been dieting since the 80s and am now a good 6 stones overweight. I feel like my body has been ruined by following the dietary advice given over the years and the over abundance of fast food. There will be a lot of people saying you don't need to overeat, just get off your bum and move etc, but the stark fact is these messages haven't solved the problem. The numbers of the obese are growing even faster, lives are being ruined, the age at which obesity is taking hold is getting younger and younger. It's like something out of a sci if novel. How to disable a civilisation in 100 years!

Christmasmice Wed 11-Jan-17 00:10:19

It's a bit bonkers. I believe Sweden changed their official advice and got people eating high fat diets and heart disease has lowered as a result. It will be great to see the NHS eventually catch up on this.

KindDogsTail Wed 11-Jan-17 00:28:04

NHS does not know about nutrition and diet. I agree diets got changed in about the late 1970s. Suddenly piles of bread and pasta were thought to be the healthy foundation for our diets.

People are also expected not to have lunch breaks or proper meals, with very bad effects. A lot of people have little protein or vegetables and are virtually living on carbohydrates and fatty food, in the bad sense, and sugar. Health care workers, like nurses and carers are badly affected, also by a lot of stress. It is evident in that so many are truly overweight.

I heard about that overhaul happening in Finland Christmas. They managed to transform the diet if the whole country for the better with dramatic results.

Little if you have not already, I would suggest you try looking at The Low Blood sugar diet, do not follow it in its extreme calorie reduction of 800 per day, but try the sort food suggested or get the LBS diet book. Try to not to skip meals.

LostMyDotBrain Wed 11-Jan-17 10:13:53

It just seems to me that if the advice they've been giving for 30-40 years has been accompanied by a marked increase in obesity rates, it's obviously not working. Most obese people are either dieting or have tried dieting without write them all off as simply lacking drive and will power is counterproductive. There should be whole departments chomping at the bit for all the new evidence they can get with a specific aim to getting the information fed through to the public as a priority. As it is, I recently did a family nutrition course and the carb heavy eat well plate is still trotted out as though it isn't under dispute.

BarbaraofSeville Wed 11-Jan-17 10:33:31

I think the problem is, if the government were to be honest about what was causing the obesity problem, big business would take a hit. E.G. Cereal manufacturers, fast food outlets, junk food producers.....the list is endless

Surely no-one is under any illusion about these sorts of foods being anything but unhealthy, especially in amounts greater than what we burn off.

The obesity crisis is a combination of reduced activity levels combined with increased portion sizes and increased snacking, sugarry drinks and fast food consumption.

People in general are getting fatter because they eat more than they burn, not because of minor variations in protein/fat/carbohydrate consumption.

Plenty of people eat plenty of pasta, potatoes, rice etc and are not overweight because they eat smaller portions and/or are more active.

LostMyDotBrain Wed 11-Jan-17 10:52:41

We're not really talking about minor variations though Barbara.

VeryPunny Wed 11-Jan-17 10:56:32

Because the actual scientific evidence hasn't changed. The eatwell plate is still following current best guidelines.

When this idea that carbs are baaaad has passed through multiple peer review studies (amongst other things), then the NHS will update its advice. Don't confuse popular noise/opinion with actual science.

BarbaraofSeville Wed 11-Jan-17 10:57:48

But it's not like people who are overweight are following government guidelines either are they?

So it doesn't really matter what government guidelines are. If people did follow the government guidelines, whether they are the current 'Eat Well' or a lower carb, higher fat version, there would be much less obesity because neither version includes the huge amount of sugar and processed rubbish in large portions that many people eat these days.

VeryPunny Wed 11-Jan-17 10:59:10

I think Barbara's points cover an awful lot of truth. Look at plate sizes - how many people use plates that are 12 inches in diameter? Cereal bowls that easily hold a pint and a half when the recommended serving size is about 30grams? How many people drink two milk-rich lattes a day which used to be tea with a tablespoon of milk? Snack used to be a custard creme, now it's a cupcake. Eating has become a leisure activity as well.

Agree that the food industry needs tackling.

shovetheholly Wed 11-Jan-17 11:04:02

Surely we can't lump all carbs in one pile? Wholegrain ones are surely not the same as highly processed ones?

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 11-Jan-17 11:05:27

It's not having a third of a plate of potatoes or rice that's the problem, it's the abundance of processed foods and sugary snacks. Everywhere you go, coffee shops and their syrupy coffee, petrol stations where you have to negotiate aisles of crisps and sweets in order to pay, streets full of takeaways.

BarbaraofSeville Wed 11-Jan-17 11:16:59

If it was carbs like rice and noodles that was making people overweight, why is the obesity rate in Japan, where the traditional diet is dominated by rice and noodles along with fish and vegetables, one of the lowest in the world?

BarbaraofSeville Wed 11-Jan-17 11:18:53

The Slimming World diet is broadly in line with the Eat Well plate, but probably more restrictive on bread, and lots of people have lost huge amounts of weight following that plan.

acquiescence Wed 11-Jan-17 11:24:03

I don't see a problem with it if you take the carbs section to be whole grain cereals etc. Maybe not for weight loss or weight training but as a realistic and manageable way to have a quite healthy diet. Maybe not the bagels so much!

corythatwas Wed 11-Jan-17 11:25:48

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 11-Jan-17 11:05:27
"It's not having a third of a plate of potatoes or rice that's the problem, it's the abundance of processed foods and sugary snacks. Everywhere you go, coffee shops and their syrupy coffee, petrol stations where you have to negotiate aisles of crisps and sweets in order to pay, streets full of takeaways."

This. There is no evidence that a traditional diet of boiled spuds and cabbage with a small piece of meat or fish, combined with a regular amount of exercise, is bad for you in any way.

The problem comes from lumping all food stuffs together in one category, as if there was no nutritional difference between Doritos and boiled spuds, between a whole-grain loaf and a croissant.

In my young days, children had a cooked meal at school and virtually everybody I knew had a cooked meal in the evening. An evening meal was typically, one or two boiled spuds, helping of veg, and one small chop or one fillet of fish. A school lunch might be a helping of boiled mince and mash. Being in Scandinavia, we drank milk with it, but in England the drink would have been tea or water. In England, school lunch would have come with a small helping of pudding; we didn't get that- puddings were for birthdays and special occasions.

It may not have been very inspiring but not many people managed to get fat on it either.

CasperGutman Wed 11-Jan-17 11:26:01

Re. why the Japanese aren't obese when their diet is based on noodles and rice. They do like fancy cakes and biscuits too, but portion sizes are not large by our Western standards. The main reason is probably because the Japanese on average consume about 2,800 kcal/day compared to 3,450 kcal/day in the UK, based on UN figures for 2006-2008 (from

MollyHuaCha Wed 11-Jan-17 11:26:14

LittlePleasures: "It's like something out of a sci if novel. How to disable a civilisation in 100 years!" gringrin Love this!

Some really valid points made by several PPs. It's not just about food, it's about sedentary lifestyles too - cars, computers, iphones - all reducing our activity levels.

ajandjjmum Wed 11-Jan-17 11:29:34

I've been monitoring on Cals and Carbs what I eat, aiming for less than 40 carbs a day. It's worked, and changed by diabetes blood test from 49 to 41 in three months. And I wasn't stupidly hungry the whole time, as I find protein filling.

One of my friends was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, is still trying to get on an even balance, and is still being given the 'Eat Well plate' advice. I think it's really worth investigating.

I have lost weight, but that was not the purpose of changing my diet.

Cocklodger Wed 11-Jan-17 11:30:25

I think it possibly needs some changes.
But I really don't think the current advice is to blame for obesity rates.
People don't listen to guidelines,or whats best for them.
How many people drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol every week, or smoke, or have sex without condoms(Obviously in a situation where that isn't a good idea)
How many people eat ludicrously large amounts of meat, and I mean piling the plate high with 10 sausages and half a pack of bacon per person. Or even food in general.
Portion control is a thing of the past, many more people eat takeaways nowadays. I was a kid back in the 90's, Back then few people had takeaways and I don't remember any local independents, just a chain pizza place in city centre. Nowadays that same area has 2 kebab/pizza places, a pizza place, a chinese and an indian, within a 10 minute walk maximum of each other, not even including the aforementioned city centre. Everyone seems to have a weekly takeaway as well,if not more.Whereas back then it was uncommon and only a real treat. I remember having takeaway twice in my whole childhood.
All you can eat places don't help,ignorance doesn't help.
You can't blame everything on the government - and current recommendations won't make you the healthiest (arguably) but they won't make you obese either ffs.

SquedgieBeckenheim Wed 11-Jan-17 11:30:34

If you're comparing to pre 70's lifestyle - portion sizes then we're MUCH smaller, and people were far more active. Even doing the housework then was more labour intensive than it is these days. There was also far less processed foods available then.
In essence, that's the problem now. Too little exercise combined with larger portion sizes, and more processed foods. This is where the rise in 'clean eating' is coming from - a backlash against processed foods as people are realising that it isn't healthy. The NHS guidance isn't infallible, but it does advocate less processed foods (except margarine hmm that's still advised as the way to go)

keepingonrunning Wed 11-Jan-17 11:32:36

The food industry is dominated by a few huge and influential multinational companies: Unilever, Associated British Foods, Mars, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Pepsi Co, Danone, Tate & Lyle, Mondelez. They lobby government very powerfully, with carrots such as British jobs and the size of their UK corporation tax payments.
The government has a dilemma: alienate them with changes in NHS guidelines and/or a sugar tax on consumers to demonstrate a real commitment to improving the nation's health and they risk production and jobs being moved abroad to more favourable trading conditions. And at election time, fewer jobs means fewer votes for politicians.
So for now, the government is making do with nagging the British public to tackle their weight without tackling the root of the problem and hoping some miracle will happen.

Zarachristmas Wed 11-Jan-17 11:38:01

I'm not sure. I eat lots of bread, pasta and potato, rice and have never had a weight problem. When I do gain weight it's because I eat too many puddings, takeaways and eating out a lot.

I'm sure the obesity crisis is to do with a mixture of things.

Fast food places have popped up everywhere compared to 20 years ago. Someone must be keeping them in business.

Portion sizes have become huge. Bigger plates and supersize meals, people have got a distorted view of a normal meal size.

People are generally more inactive.

There is hidden sugar in foods you wouldn't expect, savoury convenience foods.

Coffee shop and eating out culture. Eating giant cookies and muffins with your cake.

An obsession with snacking. People can't seem to go anywhere without a snack.

Half of the supermarket is filled with junk food. Ready meals, pizzas, crisps and chocolate are always on promotion so if you're hungry and in a hurry you're tempted and less encouraged to eat healthily.

I'm not an expert but I don't believe people are fat because they eat toast for breakfast. Ok toast might not be the most nutritious food but it's not making people fat.

whattheseithakasmean Wed 11-Jan-17 11:38:20

The NHS guidelines are fine. It is portion sizes, sedentary life styles and junk food that are the culprits. Picking holes in the NHS guidelines seems a bit like trying to deflect blame from the real reasons people are fat and unfit.

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