'Carb guilt' rife among women

Last updated 15:34 30/12/2013

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Amid Christmas overindulgence and wanting to make good on New Year's weight-loss resolutions, many women suffer from "carb guilt", a British study has found.

The average person consumed about 6000 calories on December 25, well above the recommended daily intake of 2000 for women and 2500 for men, according to research by the British Dietetic Association.

That, in addition to the extra 500 calories a day a person consumed during the festive period, led to an average weight gain of about 2.3 kilograms by the beginning of the new year.

The desire to lose this weight quickly meant many were choosing to banish carbohydrates from their diet.

A survey of 3000 people found women were about twice as likely as men to suffer from "carb guilt", even though they were more likely to be a healthy weight.

The survey, conducted for a weight-loss brand, found one in 10 women felt guilty all the time about the number of carbohydrates they ate. About a quarter said they would avoid them in the week to allow themselves to indulge at the weekend.

But University of Surrey health psychology professor Jane Ogden, who helped design the research, said women needed to realise carbohydrates had an essential role in their diets.

"A diet low in complex carbohydrates can make people feel permanently hungry, which can lead to snacking and grazing on foods full of fat and simple sugars," she said.

"People feel that they are denying themselves the foods they really want to eat and, in the end, most people end up overeating the very foods they are trying avoid.

"This, in turn, results in feelings of guilt and the need to deprive oneself again. Ultimately, it becomes an unhealthy, vicious cycle."

These feelings of guilt will result in lofty weight-loss ambitions featuring on many Kiwi women's New Year's resolution lists.

Health professionals saw an influx of people looking for a fresh start early in the new year, Wellington clinical psychologist and author of the weight-loss book, My Bum Looks Brilliant in This, Karen Nimmo said.

"On the back of food and wine excess, a lot of people feel a little pudgy and the new year is a perfect time to take charge of it, people are full of hope for a fresh beginning," Nimmo said.

Psychologists, fitness trainers, counsellors and gyms all reported the new year was the time when women really wanted to think about their lives.
"Everyone is trying to clean up. Psychologically everyone is full of good intent. They want to put the year behind them and get a fresh start. January 1 is massive for a lot of people." 

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- Fairfax Media

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