‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Rules Are... There Ain't No Rules

When it comes to food and 'diets', everyone thinks they're an expert. We all eat food, right? So therefore we all must be food experts...? Well, I drive a car every day, does that make me a qualified mechanic? Would you take my advice for fixing your car? I certainly wouldn't. So why do we let unqualified 'health professionals' peddling preposterous pea-brain piffle, tell us what to put in our pie holes? No holds barred today, we're talking all manner of diets, rules and food.

We've all heard 'grazing' on smaller meals is better than eating fewer large meals because it 'boosts' or 'revs up' our metabolism. A new study found:
  • No difference in energy expenditure/metabolism when subjects ate five small meals vs two larger meals (same total calories)
  • It's about total calories eaten, not the time of day they're eaten... It's personal preference, you don't want to be around me if I'm not fed. Two meals? No thanks
Now, we can't have an article that doesn't spruik the benefits of vegetables. These include, but are by no means limited to: reducing inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and a myriad of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Here's the bottom line from a new study:
  • Seven serves of fruit and veg per day = less death, less cancer, better heart health
  • Australia's got this covered - Go for 2 and 5 serves of F&V each day
    • 1/2 cup of cooked F&V or 1 cup raw is a serve
    • Sorry America, you only recommend 5 serves total... And your website is bloody confusing
Source: http://www.healthytogethermildura.com.au/what-is-a-serve
Another new study compared the benefits of many different diets including low fat, low carb, vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean and paleo (shudder). Here's the abridged version:
  • Injudicious diets are a leading cause of premature death and chronic disease
  • Low carb diets have no global definition
    • They generally restrict calories, hence weight loss
    • If they're not restrictive, protein is upped to compensate for the carb reduction, research shows this increases adverse metabolic effects
  • Low fat or vegetarian diets are generally <20% of calories from fat
    • Usually plant based, which reduces cancer risk and cardiometabolic disease (thumbs up)
    • On the flip-side, calories often increase because low fat foods compensate with bonus starch/sugar
    • No definitive research shows a low fat diet is better than a diet higher in healthy fat (think Mediterranean)
  •  Vegetarian diets don't = healthy (same goes for vegan)
    • Very restrictive vegetarian/vegan diets often lead to suboptimal nutrition and micronutrient deficiency (AKA no different to a crap western diet)
  • Mediterranean - tons of research shows it's great (here's a whole article)
  • Paleo (argggh) is all about plant based foods but excludes dairy/carbs/processed foods (like a caveman)
    • Great, until you realise most of the plants and all of the animals caveman ate are extinct...
    • Caveman also hunted for food, vastly different from sitting in your comfy minivan all the way to the supermarket
    • Today, our fiber intake is whoppingly low and our ratios of omega 3 vs omega 6 fats and potassium vs sodium are greatly different from caveman
  • Mixed/balanced diets combine plant and animal foods
    • For those of us who aren't already on some wacky gluten-free, sugar-free, low carb, low fat, high protein, paleo, miracle unicorn urine diet, this diet is one that contains familiar and accessible foods without any obnoxious dietary dogma
What did we learn? Eat food; mostly vegetables and fruits, portion control for grains, dairy and meat, enjoy sweets and treats... Don't over-think it, it's not rocket surgery. Seriously.

An amalgamation of popular diets. Adapted from: Can we say what diet is best for health? Annual Review of Public Health.    Vol 35: 83-103 D. Katz and S. Meller
Lastly, for another great read, check out the always-entertaining Associate Professor Tim Crowe's thoughts on this topic here.


  1. Interesting stuff :-) . I was a believer in the more meals higher metabolism idea, but now I am not so certain. The study you mentioned is interesting, but is is unpublished data and apparently only tracked the metabolism over 2 days. Is it reasonable to assume that metabolism would change that fast?

    Hope you are well, you are missed :-)

    1. Hi Steven,
      You're right that the study was presented at a med conference and yet to be formally published. It also used a small sample size which, in addition to the short time frame, makes the results harder to generalise.

      It's an interesting area because:
      - previous research shows greater blood glucose control in those who eat frequent small meals
      - other research shows intermittent fasting improves blood glucose control too
      - other studies show the time of day food is eaten doesn't influence weight (gain or loss)

      Basically, my view is if you already eat frequent smaller meals, it's not worth changing to eat 2 or 3 larger meals and visa versa. In terms of metabolism and glucose control, things like physical activity level, glycemic index/load and overall food quality have more of an impact.