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           Home >  Community  > People Making Changes  :

Leigh Elder's "Eat for Keeps" - a clear manual for lifestyle changes to lose weight and improve health and energy

Dorothy - 17/07/09


Headlines in the Press this week highlight the fact that New Zealand once known for its fit population has been ranked in a new report as the third fattest nation after Mexico and the United States. The future of the health of the population looks severely threatened and there is inadequate funding available to cope with a growth in obesity-related illness, especially Type 2 diabetes. Many people feel that it is too much trouble to undertake a weight loss programme and shut their eyes to the problem. The Eat for Keeps programme helps individuals take responsibility for their own health and weight loss.

When I have asked friends, "Are you willing to change the type of bread you eat, have more protein in your diet and spend more time preparing your own meals instead of eating in restaurants or buying takeaways?" the response has usually been, " Possibly, but why should I?" My reply has been, "As a start towards losing weight and enjoying better health. If you want a simple explanation read Leigh Elder's book, Eat for Keeps."

Leigh Elder and his book
Leigh Elder and his book
Click here to view a larger version

Leigh Elder has been a physical education instructor and is now a life coach working with people who feel a need to improve their health and energy and lose some weight. Many have tried a number of diets to lose weight, but given up and often ended up with a discouraging weight gain. The problem with the diets has often been that they consisted of restrictions on the size of the meals and food choices and resulted in a nagging sense of hunger.

With his experience and knowledge of how our minds and bodies work Leigh was able to help his own clients to achieve their aims. However to widen the boundaries of those who could benefit from his help he wanted to write a book which gave simple explanations for the obesity problem troubling so many people and set out clear guidelines for improvements in their health and their weight. The result was the publication of Eat for Keeps. This has extended the availability of the EFK programme beyond the area of Mt Maunganui where Leigh is based.

Why did Leigh choose the name "Eat for Keeps"?
The significance of the name is that the lifestyle and the choice of foods are recommended to help people achieve and maintain an appropriate weight and experience long term the benefits of good health.

Leigh explains how our metabolism functions and how it is our addiction to ready prepared food with high sugar and fat content which is one of the causes of the obesity epidemic. He stresses the importance of changing from white bread, rolls and paninis which satisfy our appetite for a fairly short time, and eating genuine multigrain bread as it takes longer to digest and therefore delays the onset of hunger. It is also important to increase the protein in the diet instead of eating high carbohydrate takeaways. Achieving these aims means giving more thought and more time to the purchasing and preparation of food.

Where can people buy EFK food in a café?
Robert Harris cafes now serve EFK food.

I asked Tracy Bartlett, a Robert Harris representative, how this new feature of their service was organised.

How will I know which food follows EFK principles?
The food is clearly labelled EFK.

What arrangements are made for staff training and updating new staff?
Franchisees are responsible for keeping new staff up to date on all products within the Cafes. Unfortunately with 51 Cafes it is hard to get it right 100% of the time. We will continue to send out reminders that all staff need to understand the concept.

How much information do staff have available about the ingredients in EFK food - for instance whether the filo pastry was made with butter or oil?

All recipes are labelled EFK. and all recipes have a full list of ingredients. There is no oil or butter used to spray the filo pastry. There is a light spray of oil to the tin to stop the pastry from sticking.

Are there explanatory pamphlets about EFK available in the cafes?

All cafes have information in regards to what EFK means. We may send out additional info that can be given to customers once the menu size is increased.

How is a diabetic diet catered for in EFK and the cafes?
The EFK's concept is about lower blood sugar levels which is helpful to diabetics. I suggest that customers with questions are directed to Whitcoulls to buy the EFK book which explains in detail the concept of Eat For Keeps.

Catering for those with food allergies
I was most interested in EFK's presentation of solutions to problems of weight and lack of energy for those who have no other difficulties with food. Having experienced a dairy food allergy and known others with allergies, including some who were very resistant to change, I asked Leigh how he assisted such clients.

Here are some questions I thought relevant and Leigh's answers.

Do you ask for a health report from the client's GP before starting a weight loss programme?
We ask a number of relevant medical questions like what medications they are on, medical conditions and weight loss history. If necessary we have contact with their GP.

What do you think are the best ways to help a client with an allergy to gluten, or dairy products?
Clients will often be quite skilled in making the right choices to avoid food they are allergic to. We make sure that these are in line with our key ideas of eating more sustaining meals and snacks and keeping an eye on overall fat levels.

How would EFK advice need to be adjusted for vegetarians?
One of the key challenges for vegetarians is to eat enough protein rich food. We help clients source these out and there are plenty of useful choices like nuts, a wide range of legumes, eggs, falafel and dairy products.

What do you find is the most common cause for obesity among your clients?
Confusion is a common problem. People are confused by the incredible range of food choices they now have and all the conflicting stories they hear about what they should be eating. Another common cause is that, quite simply people now eat too many meals and snacks which contain fast digesting, highly processed foods. This results in continuously high blood sugar and insulin demand levels. This is a sure recipe for overweight and obese conditions and results often in Type 2 Diabetes.

Do you supply a plan for exercise to each client?
Motivating clients to become more active is a coaching exercise. We find out where their interests lie and they volunteer activities and routines they are happy to follow. It is crucial they take ownership and responsibility rather than us telling them what they should be doing.

Once clients start on a programme following the principles of Eat for Keeps how often do you check their progress?
We would have a short, weekly phone conversation for between 3-6 months. Our key goal is to make people independent of us and those who are ready to commit to a few permanent food and lifestyle changes will become independent of us very quickly.

How do you counter the resistance of people who declare that they have tried a number of diets and nothing has made any difference, so they are not interested in another one?
We have moved away from standard dieting approaches. Once people realise the points of difference they are often keen to try this new approach.

Do you try to convince people that they need to lose weight when they do not consider that they have a serious problem?
Denial is very hard to break through. The key to what we do is to work with people who are ready. In our experience this is about 50% of the people we meet.

Some people struggle with the negative attitudes of those they live with. Do you involve the family or partner of a client wanting to lose weight?
Yes, wherever possible, as it is important they have support from their family.

I strongly recommend that you buy "Eat for Keeps" and read it for yourself. Leigh's explanations are straightforward and highlighted with clear images and content summaries.

To order the book go to the website www.efk.co.nz
Can be purchased from any leading retailer (RRP $35.00)

I suggest that you read the book, follow the advice and form your own view of this new approach to remedying obesity and lassitude.

 



 
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