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Dealing with doctors over your diabetes diet

Q: But how can a diet that cuts out a whole food group be a balanced diet?

There is no concept so dear to a nutritionist's heart as that of a balanced diet. Those who complain that this way of eating is not a balanced diet, or that it cuts out a whole food group, simply don't understand what a balanced diet is. You will realise just how necessary a 'balanced' diet is when you consider that in many parts of the world large groups of hunters live quite healthily on nothing but a small part of one group: fat meat. There is an enormous body of evidence from all over the world that people can and do remain entirely fit and healthy on diets that are restricted to meat alone. Obviously, the 'balanced' diet so beloved of dieticians is not so important after all.

The truth is that a balanced diet is any diet that supplies all the nutrients the body requires, in the correct proportions. A diet of fresh meat alone, if fat is included, can do just that. And offal helps too: Liver, for example, contains four times as much vitamin C as either apples or pears, and kidney is nearly as good. This plan, however, goes much further in that carbohydrate intake is not cut out, merely reduced. It is, in all respects, a balanced diet.

Q: But eating a lot of fat makes me queasy

Some people say that they find a high-fat diet nauseating. They associate the word 'fat' with blubber or greasy food. It is noticeable, however, that they usually have no difficulty eating fat if that fat is called 'butter' or 'cream'. And the person who cannot stand 'greasy food' usually has no problem eating chocolate.

Strangely, although people have been professing to want leaner meat since the end of food rationing in 1954, the actual consumption of fat in Britain has been rising steadily throughout this century. The problem with this, as far as health is concerned, is that the increase has not been of healthy animal fats but of unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oils.

If you really cannot stand the sight of visible fat on a succulent piece of meat, you can avoid offending your palate by choosing foods that are high in invisible fats, or the acceptable fats that you eat now. After a while you will find that you will come to relish the crackling on pork, the skin on chicken or the fat on a piece of roast beef and you will be back to the ideal way of eating. At this stage fat will only make you feel nauseous if you try to eat more of it than your body wants. And that is what we want it to do: it's your body's signal that it has had enough. Listen to your body, stop eating when it tells you, and fat will not be a problem — either in your food or on your body.

You may even find that your diet is 'healthier' in the conventional sense. One client told me that before she started to eat this way she didn't like vegetables. She did eat them but only because she was told that '5 portions' of vegetables were 'healthy', not because she liked them. Now that she can fry vegetables or put olive oil or butter on them, she enjoys vegetables so much that she is actually eating more than she did before. 'It's opened up a whole new world to me' she said.

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