An interview for UK Health Radio with Zoë Harcombe

After the festivities and often indulgences of Christmas many people start the New Year with a desire to become healthier and fitter. We can become surrounded by marketing promoting fitness devices, classes, clothing, recipes, superfoods and programmes. Rather than jump on this treadmill of yoyo dieting each year Zoë Harcombe suggests we get it right this January by ignoring current dietary advice, which she feels is severely flawed and invoke some common sense towards the food we eat.


Zoë became interested in nutrition after studying economics and Maths at Cambridge University. It made no sense to her that obesity was becoming a problem in the UK when so many people were dieting and trying to be slim. Dietary guidelines for populations are issued every five years and when they were first introduced in 1977 in the US and 1983 in the UK, obesity rates began to escalate. The UK adopted very similar guidelines to the US, which focused on eating no more than 30% of calories in the form of total fat and no more than 10% of saturated fat. Then in 1994 the Balance of Good Health plate was introduced which was followed by the Eat Well Plate in 2007 and then more recently the Eat Well Guide in 2016. Zoë feels the advice which is given out across public health and in schools is shocking, primarily the advice that 55% of our diet should be carbohydrates. Fat and protein are the most nutritional food groups and yet these are the foods we have been driven away from.

Zoë explains that we do not need carbohydrates as we can survive on just fats and proteins very well and if we did follow such a diet we’d be slim and without type-2 diabetes.


Every single food on the Planet, except oils and sucroses contains protein. Many diet advisors recommend counting calories, which Zoë explains is a flawed approach to weight loss. Fat contains 9 calories per gram whilst carbohydrates contain 4 per gram. As soon as you start to count calories it’s much easier to make poor food choices. You tend to avoid foods that are nutrient dense, satisfying and also keep your blood glucose levels stable. This tends to encourage a shift towards foods rich in carbohydrates and away from foods that have traditionally been part of our diet to foods that we haven’t evolved to eat. We really need to focus on eating real food, high in nutritional value.


Low fat diets have been around now for some time and when people restrict their food and move away from fats they begin to loose out on essential vitamins and minerals. Zoë explains we are now experiencing low levels of vitamin A and vitamin D with a growing increase in rickets. As we become more and more deficient in fat-soluble vitamins our general health will deteriorate. Low fat diets may work in the short-term but as the body adjusts very quickly, weight loss stops after 6 months and when we revert to eating ‘normally’ again the weight is regained and often additional weight too. Eating fat in our diet is important as it contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and all our B vitamins, which are important for our mind, mood, memory and muscles. High quantities are found in liver, eggs and steak. B vitamins are also very important for menopausal health and fats also provide us with calcium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.


The advice we are given about food is often very confusing. We can never have an excess of vitamins if we focus on eating real food. Zoë recommends grass-fed meats as they are a richer source of nutrients. Farming has also had a huge impact on the quality of our food and top soil alone used to be several feet deep but now it is only a few millimetres. By keeping animals in sheds and growing vegetarian foods in field where animals should be grazing we have altered the nutrition of our food. The cycle of life has been turned upside down and we will see the consequences in the next 20/30 years. We have moved away from the traditional way of eating and the dietary guidelines have opened the door for products that weren’t even on our shelves 40 years ago. Eating healthily for some often includes a fixed budget but by eating real food it doesn’t have to be expensive.


Zoë explains in her book that we must stop counting calories and eat what we evolved to eat by eating what the planet provides and ditching junk food as well as processed foods. Zoë’s top tips are to focus on real food, stop snacking and just eat 3 times a day and manage your carbohydrate intake. If you crave certain foods then look at candida, food intolerances and blood sugar balance and work to overcome cravings to stick to a non-junk diet.


To listen to this interview in full visit UK Health Radio

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To find out more about Zoë Harcombe visit:

Web address: www.Zoë













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