How To Lose A Stone In 21 Days – Episode 1 review

You don’t have to be emaciated or vomiting to be suffering. All people who live their lives on a diet are suffering.

Portia Rossi

I have never been so angered by the 1st minute of a programme before. This was honestly the most shocking start to a show I’ve ever seen. So full of awful advice right from the start. Here are the main points from this episode, and why you should take them for what they are…… absolute trash!

Issue: ‘Doctor’ Michael Mosley

Let’s start with ‘Dr’ Michael Moseley. The fact is, he has not been a practising doctor for 35 years, and the short story is that he qualified in a psychiatric role and very soon after ditched it to work for the BBC. Since then he has been a producer, a presenter and a journalist, and is not qualified to give nutritional advice.

Why is this bad?

When you qualify as a dietician or nutritionist for example you are expected to do regular continued professional development in order to maintain a level of current knowledge. Michael Mosley has not done that. He’s worked on some TV shows and written some terrible diets, which he’s now attempting to turn into another TV show. This man is not a qualified, safe source of dietary information.

how to lose a stone in 21 days with Michael Mosley

Issue: weight shaming

Michael actively shames people throughout the whole episode for ‘piling on pounds’ and ‘corona kilos’ and developing ‘lockdown belly’. This even stretched to the poor guy who was comfort eating because he was GRIEVING!

Why is this bad?

No-one should ever be shamed for putting weight on, no matter how big that number would be, let’s get that straight from the start. People have a right to live in whatever size body they want, and quite frankly at a time where we should be happy to be alive, well and not dying of Covid-19 this is disgusting.⠀

Issue: weight gain and health

There was a big emphasis on weight gain being the cause of ill health. ‘Lose weight and you’ll be healthier’ was the over-arching message through this programme.

Why is this bad?

This is a clear case of correlation not equalling causation. Michael Mosley’s main focus is on diabetes (because he claimed to cure himself of that 🤔) but did you know that diabetes can cause weight gain? There are other ways to tackle poor health than automatically targeting the weight. Health can be improved without losing weight, and yes you absolutely can reverse Diabetes, but health improvements can come from better eating, so wouldn’t it be a better idea to focus on the foods and their effects on the body, rather than just saying if you’re fat you’re risking your health?

Issue: comfort eating

Comfort eating and comfort foods were often referred to in a very negative light..

Why is this bad?

Comfort food and comfort eating are perfectly normal and you should not feel ashamed for eating food you enjoy. When we are in certain states of emotion we crave different foods. We shouldn’t be saying that comfort eating and those foods are bad, but instead looking at what we are craving, potentially why we are craving, and finding something to satisfy that need.

Issue: food addiction

Here we go again…… apparently sugary food is addictive!

Why is this bad?

FOOD IS NOT ADDICTIVE!!!
SUGAR IS NOT ADDICTIVE!!!

Blog post to follow on this!

Issue: side effects

Participants became unwell very quickly, with dizziness and mood changes, weren’t able to eat until satisfied and constantly thought of food.⠀

Why is this bad?

This boils down to the fact that they just weren’t eating enough. The participants didn’t have enough energy on board and the body was prioritising certain functions over others in order to stay alive. People in actual real life starvation trials ate more than 800 cals a day, in fact almost double that at their most restricted. There are some medical reasons why some people may need to do this kind of diet, but it is in the extremes and proper supervision is essential so should only be done through a qualified medical professional. This show makes it seem safe and normal. It is not! The behaviours here are screaming disordered eating.

Issue: calories demonised

Calories were labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

Why is this bad?

There is no such thing as ‘right and wrong calories’. Placing a moral value on any food encourages disordered eating, more guilt, shame, and restriction. A calorie is basically a unit of energy. The question should be more around the nutrients in the foods, not the amount of energy it gives you. But this is what is so wrong with this show – it’s all about the calories and little else.

Issue: binning food

Participants were made to bin food, pour drinks down the sink, and stamp on packets of biscuits

Why is this bad?

This part really infuriated me. Firstly, go back to the point above. Taking these actions just demonised the foods, appear ‘bad’ and makes you think they have no place in a well balanced diet. I know this is going to be a repeat message through these reviews but all food has a place, a value, and nutrients that the body can use. That aside, this action clearly shows his disregard for his own level of privilege. Some people aren’t in the position to just bin their food. Some people buy what they can afford. Some people would starve if they had to do that. Michael Mosley has zero respect for people and is making big assumptions here.

Issue: Covid-19

Given that this came out at a time when Covid-19 was rife, there was a section on statistics. These were heavily biased.

Why is this bad?

There was no accounting for varying levels of health care standards, different economic statuses or other variables that affect recovery. There was a bit of a nod to race and gender, but then that was used as a beating stick. Another way to make the participants feel guilty. There are major flaws in the studies looking at Covid-19 and obesity, and it cannot be conclusively linked. I feel that this section was unnecessary.

Issue: eating habits

Participants ate different food to their family. Sitting at the table with them, eating different food from tiny side plates.

Why is this bad?

This is a big issue for me. Children pick up on so much from a very early age, and here they are being shown that it is not ok to be in a bigger body, and the way to make your body thinner is to starve yourself, make yourself miserable, and don’t enjoy food with your family. This is starting the diet culture ball rolling in the children’s minds and with a world that is already full of weight stigma and fat phobia the home should be the space that frees them from this and teaches them better.

No-one is learning how to have a better relationship with food in this show. It’s very much ‘don’t eat this’ and ‘do eat this’ and ‘don’t eat sugar because you’ll get fatter’. This show promotes food guilt, fat shaming and pure scaremongering. We are doing what the government has asked of us, staying home, possibly not moving as much as we were, and in response they release this tripe, essentially just making money from people’s struggles. How are your ratings Channel 4? How are your book sales Michael Mosley? Both increased following this I’d say. ⠀

The scariest thing is that people sat at home, feeling unhappy with their bodies through lockdown, watching this show will think that this is the way forward. Little do they know that they are putting their health at risk, not improving it. There are much better ways, much safer ways, much more pleasurable ways to look after your eating habits and your health. Take a look at some of the books I recommend below if you’re looking for somewhere to start.

More on this next week once I’ve made it through episode 2!⠀

The F*ck It Diet

Caroline Dooner's amazing and funny book on how to say 'f*ck it' and give up dieting. It's full of information on why we diet, why it's so damaging to our health, and how to tackle the thoughts and habits that come up as you are giving it up. Very compassionate and warm, and a giggle or two along the way. All science backed!

Intuitive Eating

Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch - the ladies who originally created intuitive eating and made it the incredible method that we use today. Kind and caring, a step by step guide to tackling the physical and the mental side of leaving diet culture behind. Just revised and re-released so this is brand new! A must read.

Body Positive Power

Megan Jayne Crabbe's book on how to let go of your body hang ups and realise that whatever shape and size you are, you are wonderful. Megan brings her own struggles into the book, and shows you that no matter what your circumstances you can release negative relationships with food and learn to enjoy it. 

Please note:  This post is intended to be general information that applies to people who don’t have diagnosed medical conditions and are not pregnant, and any figures correct at the time of writing. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠ and continue to follow the advice of your medical practitioner for any current conditions that you have. 

Please note:  Links to items available to purchase are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission from your purchase. However, these items have been chosen because I love and trust them, and I feel that they would benefit other people, not because I may earn a couple of quid! You are welcome of course to source them elsewhere, but if you purchase them through my link I will be super grateful.