Dieting as Stress Relief

Diet is important in the control of stress because it controls weight, and the overweight person becomes stressed. To be overweight is to increase the stress of life. To struggle to lose weight and fail makes the situation worse. All the evidence shows that regular weighing is the first important step in losing weight. Once the true state is accepted, the next step is to find a means of establishing a better pattern of eating. To some extent any diet, providing that it contains fewer calories, and breaks the eating habits of years, is valuable. Part of the strength of the now-popular Atkins diet is that the very strict diet for the first couple of weeks serves to distance the dieter from his or her old ways. Diets come and go, but the principle remains same: a slimming diet must reduce someone's calorie intake; if the calorie sums have been correctly totted up, weight will come down. One of the difficulties is that some people put on weight pry readily. All doctors have patients who can put on weight even if their diet provides a calorie intake only a fraction of that of the average-sized person. Usually, however, the trick when dieting is to find a weight-reduction plan that doesn't produce hunger but maintains a balanced diet. A balanced diet should not upset the body's chemistry.

The Atkins Diet

Over the years the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet has emerged from time to time. In each age, it has had a different name. Thirty years ago it was the Scarsdale Diet, or sometimes the Drinker's Diet. It is now back with us as the Atkins Diet, and for better or worse, it works.

The original Atkins diet, advertised by pictures of the late Dr Atkins brandishing the classic fry-up, has been abandoned. Even the Atkins machine now accepts that some carbohydrates are essential to human health, and that the proportion of saturated fat in the diet should be controlled. Yet its proponents still maintain that pure or nearly pure protein should be the basis of human diet - as it was, supposedly, in man's hunter-gatherer days. They maintain that, at that time, the meat eaten had little fat and that the carbohydrates all had a low glycemic index - that is to say, the carbohydrate in rough seeds, beans and root vegetables was all unrefined and took time to absorb and metabolize. They don't include potatoes, with a high glycemic index, nor, of course, modern bread.

When Dr Atkins died his cardiovascular system was in poor order. His critics claim this was because he had eaten his unreformed, unmodified Atkins diet for too long. His advocates angrily deny this and claim that his tatty heart and his obesity were the results of incidental causes. Using an Atkins Diet to lose weight and to establish a lower calorie diet is, I think, justifiable - for a short time. Thereafter, however, it should be modified so that the calorie intake is kept down but a balanced diet is maintained. Once the weight has been lost, no time should fee wasted in starting the standard balanced diet. If a high-protein diet is to be pursued, total fats should not exceed 32 percent of the total calorie intake and only a small percentage should be saturated. It is usually taught that carbohydrates should form about l$2 percent of the total calorie intake. A normal, healthy diet should be rich in fiber, provided you are not one of a sizeable minority of people whose gut problems are made worse by a high-fiber diet. Vitamins and trace elements are all-important.

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