Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The No S Diet

I can't resist checking out new diets and seeing what they are all about. A lot of them seem to disappointingly similar. Most seem to work by either deliberately restricting calories, or by restricting the type of food and/or timing of eating so that less calories are consumed, or by changing attitudes to food to avoid overeating, or some combination. Maybe there are more types of diet (the ones which involve drugs, for instance). I'm just thinking on the hoof here. When I see a new diet, I'm always hoping that it really will be something new.

Recently I've been looking at the No S Diet. I'm not sure if I can summarise the diet here without infringing copyright, because those fourteen words at the beginning are the diet. But I think I can safely say that it's basically eating only at mealtimes and avoiding high sugar foods during the week, and unrestricted eating at weekends.

I liked the sound of it. After all, it's more or less how we tend to eat naturally. I imagined that this is how it might work:

- one type of food is restricted (sugary food), which might lead to less calories over all (although not necessarily. The "set point" thing might lead to more of other foods being eaten to compensate)

- possibly sugary foods might tend to be quicker and easier to eat than the other food we tend to eat (so you're cutting out the type of food you'd be most likely to overeat)

- restricting the times of eating might mean less food is eaten overall. People might well eat a little more at mealtimes, but wouldn't feel an urge to eat a lot more.

- people who tend to overeat at a sitting will have less sittings to overeat at (and it would be difficult to hugely overeat at mealtimes, because you are restricted to one plateful of food, I think).

- the weekend allows for a bit of relaxation, indulgence and particularly social eating (meaning that it can fit in with people's lifestyles and they are more likely to stick with it)

I can see how it might work in theory.

But then I started to have a look a couple of the blogs and testimonials of people following the diet. Only a couple, and maybe I didn't read a representative sample. I got the impression that people were losing a good few pounds at the beginning of the diet, but then started to level off a bit. Maybe they reached the bottom limit of their "set point". Maybe their eating adjusted so that they ate more at mealtimes. Maybe some other reason. It wasn't dramatic (and to be fair, the diet doesn't claim to be).

Two blogs I read in a little more detail. I was surprised to find that the writers were adding further restrictions to the diet. That was disappointing. Apparently they had accepted that it wouldn't work on its own, for them. I'm not sure why it works for some and not others, and I'm not sure how well it works long-term.

However, I do like the idea better than some of the others out there. It doesn't seem to encourage an obsession with food. Apart from avoiding the sweet stuff, you could be eating more or less what you like, every day. A plateful of food at a meal is actually quite a lot of food (assuming it's not mainly lettuce), so you wouldn't need to be left hungry. I think it could be easier to stick to three meals than to eat when you're hungry, because three meals tend to fit in easily with family and work. (No need to sit twiddling your thumbs during a communal lunch because you don't feel hungry enough yet, then have to pull out a packet of nuts while you're trying to work).