As Channel 4s Secret Eaters hits our screens again, Anna Richardson continues with her no holds barred approach to uncovering the real truth behind the nations expanding waist lines. Each week two participants confess to being lost and confused as to why they have gained weight or why they can’t seem to lose weight. As the cameras roll and the pairs every food moves are followed with 24 hour surveillance for five days, it quickly emerges that all is not as it first seemed. Most participants are found to be exceeding their recommended calorie intake by at least 50%. Astonishing, even with cameras rolling several participants manage to consume more than double their daily calorie requirements. In true television style Anna gently (but not unkindly) makes a mockery of what the participants thought they were eating and shows them the shocking extent of their self deception.
Leaving aside the very real entertainment value for those of us scoffing at home from the comfort of our sofas (either figuratively or literally), there is a very important message underlying the programme. It highlights some of the dietary pitfalls that contribute to weight gain:
Excessive portion sizes
Genuine lack of awareness about the calorie content of foods
Multiple meals (eating more than 3 meals and two snacks)
Too much high sugar, high fat foods
Not counting the calories in drinks
Skipping breakfast and over compensating at snack or lunch time
Over estimating the weight loss benefits of the exercise
Mindless munching while preparing food/watching tv/working at a pc
The programme, in the shape of dietitian Lynne Garton, provides the participants with a calorie appropriate eating plan (and quite rightly so after poking fun at their expense). We find out how much weight they have lost but perhaps just as importantly we see that they are now eating better foods and often have a renewed interest in physical activity.
If you haven‘t had the pleasure (and it really is a great programme) check it out on Wednesdays at 8pm on Channel 4. Next episode on Wednesday 26th March 2014.