Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Day 7-9: Legalism, Extremism and Common Sense

Okay, this is where I start getting the hate mail.

A lot of these extreme health fads are a lot like religion, and the worst kind of religion – the kind that makes people nasty, intolerant and obsessed with rule-keeping.  When I started considering Banting, for example, I thought I could use some encouragement and tips so I joined a facebook group called ‘Banting for Beginners’, seemed fair enough. Soon after I posted the question, “Can someone refer me to an article about whether it is necessary to cut out absolutely all carbohydrates as per the red list or can I just cut down?  I don’t quite see how I can manage it with a family of 6”.  I was thinking perhaps I could keep rice and pasta for some suppers and oats for breakfast….

Perhaps I expected a couple of links?  Maybe a succinct scientific explanation as to the need to be absolute? Some encouragement along the lines of, “That’s a great way to start, Natalie, yes, cut down carbs and increase what you’re cutting week by week.”  No such luck, the comments were completely intolerant.  One said, “That’s like putting a gun to your head.”  Wow! Umm, I don’t think so, many people live long happy lives on sugar and wheat, a gun would be like…instantaneous death?

Another answered tersely, “I am managing just fine with a family of 5.”  Ok. Clearly you are a superior human being to me.  Or… looking at her profile I saw she was a stay-at-home-mom so she has a huge advantage right there, peeling and chopping veggies takes huge amounts of time.  I have about 30 minutes to prepare supper and I can’t afford to continually buy pre-chopped veggies.  But thanks for the encouragement – really. (snarky voice)

I later spotted that even the great Tim Noakes took about 10 months to eliminate carbs from his diet, but not ‘Banting for Beginners’, oh no, they do it in one week.

Let me just add that Banting is extreme.  Did you know for example that you cannot have any of these innocent-looking foods that you used to think of as healthy?
·         Beans
·         Beetroots
·         Peas
·         Peanuts
·         Oats, barley, quinoa
·         Rice of any kind
·         Granola of any kind
·         You also can not have more than 1 banana/day and generally need to keep sweet fruits down.

Look I understand being absolute for a time when you want to lose weight, but for general health, surely these can be guidelines?  Eliminating refined flour products and processed foods from your diet would be a huge leap of health for most of us, do we really need to avoid butternut and beans?

And then there’s the absolutism around added/free sugars.  Lots of these people will not touch anything that’s had sugar added, for example salad dressings, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, pickles and so on.  Really? The salad dressing I picked up had 3 grams of sugar in it, that’s half a teaspoon in a whole bottle which is going to take at least a month to consume in a family of 6.  Are you kidding me?  Last night I made a curry with aubergines, onions, chicken and beans.  I added a can of tomatoes and 50g of tomato paste which was a whopping 12grams of sugar to a meal that feeds 6 (2 grams each) Seriously?  Lighten up!

And then what I find most amusing is to google Banting recipes.  The top 50 will be elaborate ways to make treats without using wheat or sugar.  Most popular are things like xylitol and coconut flour.  Hang on people, isn’t this exactly where we went wrong before?  When we take something our bodies typically don’t get a lot of (eg.coconut) and then start refining it and eating lots of it?  The whole ‘tricks’ around Banting seems to me to fly in the face of a REAL food revolution.

All the dietary advice I have ever read has boiled down to this: Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid refined foods.  That’s the big picture folks, let’s not get lost in the red tape.


Energy (1=very low; 5=high)
Day 1
Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7
Day 8

Day 9

I may have lost 1kg, but remember a woman’s weight typically fluctuates with her monthly cycle, so I can’t know if this is diet related yet.


  1. "A lot of these extreme health fads are a lot like religion, and the worst kind of religion – the kind that makes people nasty, intolerant and obsessed with rule-keeping." - I think the same can be said for certain exercise fads...

    I'm trusting your research, and without having looked into banting I can say that it is definitely not for me... I love all those innocent looking foods! I think I'll classify myself as a 'free spirited foodie' from now on, but I'm 'enjoying' your journey... only 12 more days to go!

  2. I LOVE this Natalie! Not only are you exercising your gift in writing, but I love your common sense approach to this subject! Common sense is indeed a vastly underrated commodity these days!! Have you ever heard of orthorexia? It is fairly widespread methinks! BTW - excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is banting?

    1. Banting is what you may know as Paleo or Low Carb High Fat. It has taken South Africa by storm!

  3. Oh PS try weighing yourself in pounds instead of kilos. You'll be able to measure progress much quicker!! :)

  4. hello Nats!! this is wonderful-i love your writing and the fact that you are doing this experiment-it means i dont have to do it myself ;-)

  5. I agree with the comments about common sense. Natalie, I love your blog, and read it every time you post. Whenever a new fad diet hits, there is inevitably a new brand of extremism - cauliflower everything, for example. Just cut back the bad stuff and try to eat more vegetables and drink more water. Always good.