It seems that the nation that gave us the first well structured diet plan for some time, the Dukan Diet, has now opted for a slightly more faddish diet craze. In France they call it Le Forking or Le régime fourchette, however it is derived from Ivan Gavriloff’s Dine With A Fork idea that is set out in his book Dine avec une fourchette : Un nouvel art de bien manger written in 2005. Apparently Alan Sugar, the British businessman famous for Amstrad and The Apprentice, swears by the method.
The idea is simple – the only food you can eat must be that which can be consumed only with a fork. So French onion soup seems to be off the menu!
The logic behind the fork diet is that foods which contain a lot of sugar or far cannot be eaten with a fork. Ivan Gavriloff believes it is the food we eat with a knife that causes us to gain weight. Foods in this category include meats, sausages and cheese.
This idea is not without merit though. The research by carried out by Dr. Richard Wrangham shows that it is the processing of food through cooking and grinding that allowed humans to develop more rapidly. For example, studies have shown that cooking eggs allows us to absorb 94% of the protein whereas in raw eggs we only absorb around 60%.
The same applies to meat and vegetables. Cooking vegetables allows us to utilise more of the energy that is locked up inside the sugars. Mind you, you can eat boiled eggs with a fork and not raw eggs, so the fork diet fails here. You can learn a little more about Dr. Wranghams research here.
The French fork diet does not allow you to eat any animal proteins though, so the cooking for meats and eggs is not actually relevant.
Also eating with our hands is not allowed on the fork diet. So pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and even nuts are not allowed. Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, so not eating these is not an entirely sensible approach to dieting!
Already there are at least two variations on the fork diet. Some people will also go so far as to not eat anything that has been prepared with a knife or spoon, so whipping cream to allow you to eat it with a fork is not allowed. However, many people stick to the basic rule of only eating what can be eaten with a fork, which means that they do eat shellfish and cooked eggs.
Once you break the diet down, with the avoidance of bread, saturated fats, chips, butter, cheese and sweet desserts, the fork diet starts to appear more like many other mainstream diets.
A vital point about this diet is that the French, like the British, commonly use both a knife and fork when eating, and will “process” their food with the knife before eating. Many Americans do not use knives and have only used a fork to eat with for a long time. This part of the diet plan will fail for those that never use knives anyway.
However, the rules about not eating with your hands can be very beneficial, as fast food is generally the highest calories type of food and when eaten with hands is eaten very quickly. When using your hands you can consume hot dogs, hamburgers and pizzas in a fraction of the time it takes to cut them with a knife and eat with a fork.
You can eat, within reason, as many vegetables and legumes (lentils, peas, beans, etc), grains (pasta, rice, wheat and meal) and fish as you please. Apart from the grains, this is sounding a bit like a low GI or even caveman diet.
This is of course just another diet fad on the surface. Reading the original French material on this diet shows that it is meant to be more a way of life than a diet, however, like many good diets that went before it, the mainstream media will focus on a small aspect of it and the most important messages will be lost.
The diet as described above does not do much to teach people about the importance of eating a well balanced diet, it does not explain how processing and cooking foods causes more energy to be released or how certain foods cause a hormonal response that increases fat accumulation. It is just a crazy fad that started in France and seems to be spreading, albeit not much faster than cold butter on thin bread.
However, there really may be more to it. An attempt to change our attitudes to food and the way we eat. There is no denying that obesity is caused by a combination of food processing techniques, advertising and changing social acceptances of weight issues.
Using a fork also slows eating down, and this has been shown to help people to reduce calories. You simply feel full before you eat too much. Another positive aspect of using a fork is that you cannot eat sauces, which are often very high in calories and do little to add any nutritional value to a meal.
One area of Ivan Gavriloff’s forking diet is that often overlooked as that it attempts to encourage French people to start eating breakfast again. Many people skip breakfast and then snack all morning and have a large lunch and larger dinner. Ivan Gavriloff believes that this is another cause of weight gain and obesity.
Le Forking may actually go some way to re-address how we eat, and more importantly, why we eat. However, this diet really should be taken with a pinch of salt. Ivan Gavriloff is also a consultant for a Internet marketing company so knows how to promote an idea. Sometimes there are better products on the market than the one that you first see.
No diet can ever guarantee results, it is up to the dieter to follow the rules and continue to eat sensibly and also to exercise. It is possible to overeat when following any diet plan, which is invariably why people fail to lose weight when “on a diet”. So by all means take up your forks but remember that the ultimate goal here is to eat healthier foods, less food and balance your meals throughout the day better.