Time for some light relief
Reload For a meal, or a day, or more...
Just as important to this diet as your Fast Days are your ‘anything goes’ days: days when you just have to say ‘what the heck’ to dieting. And make sure there are lots of them. Christmas, holidays, Sundays, Saturdays too and Fridays for the most part. Days for eating take-aways, roast dinners, steak and chips, pizza and pasta, fried breakfasts. I wasn’t prepared to sign up for a life that just didn’t allow me to enjoy these things without feeling guilty.
It’s not that I wanted to stuff myself for the sake of it, and I’m not saying that I threw restraint completely out the window – well not very often anyway. It might be that on a Saturday, for example I just had a piece of toast for breakfast, an omelette and salad for lunch, and steak and a few chips for supper. I would eat crisps and nuts, have a beer at lunchtime and kick off the evening with a G and T. I’d drink white and red wine and follow my steak with a pudding and cheese.
The point was that there had to be days when there were no rules. What kind of calorie intake would this lot amount to? Don't know and don't care. I’ve never taken the trouble to work it out but I have no doubt whatsoever that it would have left my daily allowance battered and broken in the gutter. 2500? That might just count for the liquid portion of it.
"Why? You might ask. "If the whole reason of going on a diet in the first place is to lose weight, how can anyone possibly recommend the kind of ‘anything goes’ eating that you talk about here?" Wouldn’t it just be more sensible to do without the chips and the pizza in the first place, and then the diet wouldn’t last so long?
There are a few reasons why not. The first is all about beating the Amy Brain. We know we are going to break our diets. At least 80% of the time. So the Reload Days build in those breaks - but because they are part of the diet they don’t break the diet. We don’t have to feel bad about them, we don’t see them as failing and they are nothing to give up about. We are on track.
Reload meals and days are simply a lovely reward. Better to have chips then fast than to never have chips at all. When you get to Friday night and pour out a big bowl of crisps to go with your big gin, your large glass of white or your crisp, cold larger then enjoy! And enjoy it every week. It’s part of your diet.
The other reasons are nutritional. To be entirely honest I don’t know how proven they are, but they seem to make sense and, if my experience counts for anything, then they work.
It starts with reloading stuff we need. At the most basic level we need a balanced diet, and that simply means we need all sorts of fats, minerals and carbohydrates to survive. It’s just not good sense to cut out whole food groups on a permanent basis. So I’m all for having a bit of butter on my bread when I can.
Reloading keeps our metabolism up too. We know that our body responds to dieting by lowering its metabolism (an evolutionary tactic to help stop us starving). But for us in today’s Traybake-World of mocha-choco-lattes all that does is counteract the effects of the diet and make it much easier to put weight back on once we stop dieting.
Just reloading with carbs as a regular part of your diet simply keeps this response in check. Your body gets a regular hit of lots of carbohydrates. It doesn’t fear going into starvation and your metabolism doesn’t go crashing through the floor. The Reload also stops an unhelpful hormone response that works along side the metabolism too. When we fear starvation the body not only slows its metabolism but it also produces Ghrelin, a hormone that makes us hungry. It seems to act as a messenger between our energy stores and our brains. So again, the carb Reload just knocks this effect on the head. And you are spared from craving the food that piles on pounds. If we don’t counter this action then there will always be a rebound effect from dieting. Reload is the way to your Reset Point.
And there’s a bonus action. Reloading allows you to naturally acclimatise, and it prevents the binge eating that often characterises breaking your diet. Eating less means that meal by meal you start to feel more satisfied from eating less. It’s a myth to think that your stomach actually shrinks, it doesn’t need to. But after just a couple of weeks you become used to smaller portions. And because you’re never denied the really bad stuff, you don’t build up cravings that lead to the binge sessions either.
The result is that you even eat less of the stuff you used to binge on. Maybe you still binge in a way – but it’s a smaller binge! That’s a real result. Often when we diet this positive effect is lost because once we come off the diet we just go back to eating the same amounts that we did before. We crave everything we’ve missed and abandon any restraint we’ve learnt in a celebration of being ‘off the diet’. When you're in the Diet Groove this doesn’t happen. We don’t come off the diet because we haven’t missed anything on the way. And in some respects we don’t come off the diet at all. At least there isn’t a final cut off. It simply fades away as we gently gravitate to our reset weight.
We slowly learn to feel great, and fully fed, by eating slightly fewer chips on a Saturday night.
By switching in and out of your Reload behaviour on a regular basis you are actually training yourself to eat better. You are resetting yourself back to your Natural Reset Point weight rather than the ‘crashing out of control’ like the serial diet breaker.
After a while the Reload Days just get a little less heavy. You just aren’t quite so hungry. You are happy to leave food on the side of your plate. You can take a couple of bites of a burger and then leave the rest of the bun. You can have a big breakfast but then not feel compelled to follow it with a big lunch. And none of this comes because you think you ought to. It simply becomes what you feel like doing.
So those were to be my Reload Days. Regular, carefree eating and drinking. Nothing to dislike there.
Just to be clear
On a Reload Day you can eat whatever you like. But…
Don’t stuff yourself for the sake of it – you’ll only have to get rid of the extra calories again.
Don’t think that every meal of a reload day has to ‘go large’. You’re better just having a Reload lunch or Supper. And if you can still get away without the carbs, so much the better.
Just think a bit about restraint. Maybe not all the chips? Maybe not going back for thirds? Maybe not even seconds? Give it ten minutes to digest and see how you feel.
And no further explanation required I wouldn’t have thought.