I founded Cru8 because I had seen first-hand the transformational power of eating a predominantly raw, low-sugar, low-carb diet. Since the beginning of my health journey I’ve recovered from a pre-diabetic condition, released 20lbs of excess weight, and recovered from depression - it’s no wonder I founded Cru8, I couldn't wait to share what I’d learned about the benefits of truly healthy eating.
Given the Government’s new plan to tackle obesity in the UK released last month, I couldn’t not ‘stick my oar in,’ for want of a better expression - because as you may have seen, this new Obesity Plan has initiated some fiery debate, and for good reason…
For those of you that are hazy on the details, here are the crucial points:
- Ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm
- End of deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fat
- Calories to be displayed on menus to help people make healthier choices when eating out – while alcoholic drinks could soon have to list hidden ‘liquid calories’
- New campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better after COVID-19 ‘wake-up call’
✅ It’s about time the government changed the watershed time for unhealthy food and drink advertising as I think we underestimate how much marketing and subliminal messaging affects us. A lot of the time, weight issues can feel like our fault, but society doesn’t really help us out when it comes to creating the right environment for positive change. Of course you’re going to crave chocolate at 10pm when you’ve just seen an Aero advert where the beautifully slim woman pops a slice in her mouth and ‘feels the bubbles melt.’ It’s just not fair!
❌ I do feel, however, that the messaging around all fat being ‘bad’ is misleading, since we know that we need healthy fats from foods like oily fish and olive oil to help with hormone production, to balance blood sugar and aid the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Some of the plan to tackle obesity seems to be about restriction and fear, rather than education and understanding.
✅ For too long big food brands that are out to make a quick buck at the expense of public health have had the run of the place, slipping hydrogenated vegetable fats into chocolate or hiding excess sugar in processed food using confusing marketing tactics - more transparency on food labels is certainly a good thing. As consumers we deserve to know what we’re buying so that we can make informed decisions for our health and wellbeing.
❌ However the approach seems, in my opinion, too reductionist. A banana and a kitkat have approximately the same amount of calories but there’s no second guessing as to which of those is the healthier choice. Not all calories were created equal, and again it’s about educating the nation as to why that is. A banana contains sugar but it also contains many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed to help break it down and metabolise it effectively. A kitkat is just a sugar bomb that requires resources from the body to metabolise, whilst giving nothing back in return.
The End of BOGOF
✅ Finally, the end of the Buy One Get One Free on cheap, processed food that unfairly deceives the consumer, tricking them into thinking that they’re getting a good deal when actually it’s their health that will suffer down the line. There needs to be a bigger focus on addressing wider health inequalities without discrimination - if we ban the BOGOF on cheap ready-made meals and snacks, we not only need to introduce it on the fresh veg and fruit aisles to afford the same saving, but educate and support those consumers to use and prepare fresh food.
It’s not as simple as calories in vs. calories out
✅ Again, the thought process behind introducing calorie counts on restaurant menus is good - give consumers more power to make better decisions, but again, I don’t think it’s been properly thought out. We know that not all calories are equal anyway, but what about the very real, very likely danger of totally over-simplifying what we eat with no gravitas given to diversity, flavour, abundance and colour? And the equally as likely possibility that it will foster an unhealthy relationship with food which can lead to disordered eating. Food should be enjoyment as much as nourishment, in fact, we digest our food better when we enjoy and savour it - and that leads to better health overall.
Lose weight to beat Coronavirus
Of course we can’t argue with the statistic that nearly 8% of critically ill patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population, but is fear mongering really the way to go? Again I think the emphasis needs to be on education with a lot less judgement. What about good gut health? Quality sleep? Reducing stress? All these things have also been shown to have a profound effect on weight and also help to foster a healthier lifestyle and build longevity, as well as just weight-loss.
Generally speaking I think we need to broaden the spectrum here, less calorie counting, more education, awareness, compassion and understanding about how intricate the balance is between weight loss and weight gain, nutrient intake and overall health.
Focusing on eating a lower-carb, moderate protein and abundant vegetable diet is surely the way to go. Real food, little processed, cooked from scratch with love - that’s what it’s all about!