Food: Best Friend or Worst Enemy? By Sohaib Naeem

 Food:  If it is our best friend it can also be our worst world enemy?

 It is a common misconception believed by many people that to lose weight one must simply eat less or be on the brink of starvation. They make food their worst enemy to get down to the weight they have always wanted to be. Add to this the many celebrities who publicise their extreme diets coupled with heavily photo shopped imagery and you further reinforce this false claim.

I speak from experience, one that as an individual I am very glad I went through as it totally changed my perception of food, so that now it is my best friend not my worst enemy. Imagine if you will, a 17 year old with a limitless appetite for fast food and a desire for the odd game of sport here and there. Not seeing immediate weight gain I carried on eating everything from doner kebabs to pizzas for every meal with the mind set of thinking I am resistant to putting on weight. Fast forward a year and my self-indulgent ways caught up with me – I went from 11 stones to 16 stones in the space of 12 months. Fast food went from being  my best friend to my worst enemy.

Panicking I knew immediate action must be taken, so I did what everyone naturally does when they want to lose weight – I cut down my intake of food severely. It got to the point where I was having one meal a day and no more than 600 calories (bearing in mind the human body usually needs 2000-2500 alone just for maintenance).

It was hard and a very heavy burden to bear but I stuck with it and the weight that dropped off after 2 years was more than I ever intended to lose (I was 8 stones and I am 6’1” tall). So I had reached my goal – I had lost the weight I wanted to plus more, but did I look good and healthy? Far from it. I looked gaunt and ill and always had a severe lack of energy and very little interest in doing anything from studying to socialising with my friends.

Once again realising this wasn’t right, I conducted vast amounts of research into nutrition and made a plan for myself and slowly adapted to eating more and more on a weekly basis. Changing my ways was the hardest part as it’s human nature to get set in your ways. Doing a U-turn on them is extremely difficult I can tell you with confidence. With my family supporting me every step of the way I eventually started gaining weight again but this time it was different. I actually looked good and healthy whilst getting back up to my original weight. From that point onwards I have never looked back and eat extremely sensibly and listening to my body’s needs.

On days of physical activity such as playing football or going to the gym I would up my protein and carbohydrate intake to supply my body with what it needs to maintain or grow. on other days I would cut down the carbohydrates and lean more towards protein for maintenance. There is a science to eating well and it simply just isn’t buying diet this and low fat that. Marketing makes you think you are eating healthy but the reality is you are far from it.

Take it from someone who has been on a roller coaster ride with his weight through my late teens. Eating like a proverbial horse I piled on the pounds and then restricted myself severely so I looked ill and never had any energy.  Eating smart I feel and look and my weight has stayed the same since now food is at last my best friend no longer my worst enemy.

The way forward is pretty clear isn’t it?


By Sohaib Naeem