Official Spring isn't until March 21ish, but I think it should instead be divided this way in my area of the world, both for ease of use and for making sense: winter is December, January, and February; spring is March, April, and May; summer is June, July, and August; and fall is September, October, and November. I'm tired of having to say to a questioning child, "Well, yes, it's warm/cool and rainy and the tulips are coming up, but it's still TECHNICALLY winter," or "I know, it's snowing and we're making paper snowflakes and it's almost Christmas and we're singing 'Winter Wonderland,' but TECHNICALLY it's still fall." Dim. I reject the jinx AND the equinox!
I just finished reading a book that has made me feel a little shaky and unstable:
Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes
(photo from Amazon.com,
though probably they got it from somewhere else too)
(photo from Amazon.com,
though probably they got it from somewhere else too)
It has seemed pretty clear to me that any food-group-eliminating diet is for weight-loss only---that it might work for weight loss, but that that doesn't mean it should be seriously implemented long-term, any more than a "grapefruit and egg" diet is supposed to be implemented long-term. It makes SENSE that eliminating a whole FOOD GROUP is dangerous ground.
But THIS book is saying it's not about eliminating a food group, it's that something SHOULDN'T BE A FOOD GROUP AT ALL. Like, okay, I don't have a dog, so already I'm on not-safe-for-analogy-making ground, but am I right that I regularly hear of dogs who need to be fed less in the way of table scraps? Like, maybe some dogs can handle the regular scrap or two, or even LOTS of scraps, but other dogs get all fat and the vet has to caution the owners to cut it back, and still others are practically killed by their old-lady owners relentlessly feeding them from the table? Let's just assume I HAVE heard this, and that it is VETERINARY FACT that table scraps are not a food group for dogs: they're able to eat the food (it's not like eating plastic wrap) (although I've heard dogs do eat any number of such things), and their bodies recognize it as food and so forth, but it's not something they should be making a little food pyramid about and saying they ought to get 3-6 servings a day from that group. I mean, if dogs could talk. And hold a pen. And I'm sorry I seem to be comparing us to dogs.
So anyway, that's more what this author is saying: it's not about "Don't eat carbs, and you'll lose weight YAY!!," it's more like "Certain foods are not appropriate for human consumption by a segment of the human population that can't process them appropriately."
The first half of the book is VERY HEADY STUFF. It says, basically, "Have you noticed that some thinnish people can lose a little weight through relentless and perpetual effort, and so can some fattish people, but that basically thin people are thin and fat people are fat and the "Lost Half Their Size!!" people are not available for interview a year later? And have you noticed that you can 'eat less and move more' until you are doing NOTHING but working on your body, and yet you are still fat, while other people, who spend nowhere near as much time or effort on it, are standing around rolling their eyes about how lazy you are and how you probably feed yourself through drive-throughs, and meanwhile you suspect this whole system is screwed up and that people are being icky to each other with ZERO SCIENTIFIC BACKING? Yes, well, you're totally right. Some people can process carbohydrates correctly, and some people can't."
The second half is more about the studies and the science---though it's not strict halves at all, and there are plenty of studies in the first half and heady stuff in the second half. But first he establishes his "Things are MESSED UP" point, and then he turns to the "Here's what you can try" point. And, as you have guessed, and as I became increasingly and cringingly aware he was going to do, he cuts out the carbohydrates. Not ALL of them (in fact, you're still supposed to eat multiple cups of vegetables a day), but pretty much. But he's not saying, "EEEEWWWWW, they make you all FAT and GROSS!," he's saying, "Heart disease, insulin levels, screwing with the way your body decides how much fat to store."
The very end of the book is the weakest part, but he knows it: he's asking for more research to be done on this topic, because so far there isn't enough: there's research showing what WON'T work for some people (eating less and moving more, eating low fat, etc.), and there's scientific reason to believe that this WILL work for those same people---but we don't have enough to go on yet. And so he has to kind of peter out at the end: here's what he thinks, here's what the studies DON'T show, here's the anecdotal evidence, here's the scientific evidence---now sadly YOU will have to figure out how to implement it for the way your own individual body works (no carbs? some carbs? saying "carbohydrates" instead of "carbs"?), because everyone who could be working on this is too busy shaming people into eating less fat and fewer calories so they won't be such COWS.
I'm not at all sure it CAN be implemented. In the beginning of the book he's very sympathetic toward people who can't stay on diets, and he says people are always talking about "will power" but that that's not it AT ALL and it's cruel/stupid to say it is. But then at the end, talking about implementing the meat thing, he's more like, "Well, it's hard, but you'll have to use will power." I appreciate the candor (I am immediately and deeply suspicious of any diet plan that suggests it will be EASY! and FUN! like that 12-page compare/contrast English paper the teacher tells you to "have fun with!"), and I also thought his analogy to cigarette use was helpful, but...I still look at the plan and think, "Oh, I, um, I'm not sure this...I mean, that's really..."
And although he went a LONG way to convincing me that he was right, it is VERY HARD to completely give up long-standing beliefs. I LIKE the food pyramid. I am ATTACHED to the idea that "lean meat, whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables" is a boring cliché BECAUSE IT'S TRUE. I don't really WANT to believe that people who switch to "heart-healthy" diets don't make any difference in their risk of heart attack. I want to continue thinking that what makes sense is that eliminating entire food groups is a bad idea. It's really difficult/unpleasant when I've been SURE of something, to find out I shouldn't have been so sure and that actually I didn't know anything about it beyond the posters on the wall in kindergarten.
Plus, I'm only so-so on meat. I like it okay, but I don't think, "WOO-HOOO, ALL THE BACON I CAN EAT!!!" I don't even remember the last time I ate bacon, and we cooked pork chops this weekend for THE FIRST TIME IN MY ADULT LIFE. So...to try this eating plan, I'd have to be convinced of it from a medical/science sort of perspective---not because it appeals. And meanwhile my brain is resisting it and saying "BUT THE FOOD PYRAMID!! The GRAINS!! The MILK!! The VEGETABLES!!"
I don't know how this will pan out. I suspect some time will go by while I process this information, and then I will suddenly get motivated to try it, because I have been increasingly fretful and incredulous about my weight as the years have gone by, and if someone is offering me a plate of hope, I'm likely to think, "Well, sure, why not? I can always order something different next time." Right now, though, I'm still thinking about it---and recommending the book, if only because it's a fun, heady read and has a lot of thought-provoking stuff written by someone who writes like a good writer and not like a transcript of a motivational seminar.