Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: For many of us, conventional nutritional advice doesn’t work.
BIG PICTURE: Three years ago, I read The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. Then I read Death by Food Pyramid. And Why We Get Fat. And The World Turned Upside Down.
The latter is written by Richard David Feinman, a biochemist who teaches medical students about human metabolism. He tells of being in the cafeteria where he works, discussing how diabetics are advised to consume carbohydrates (which their bodies can only process with the aid of insulin injections).
“Overhearing my story,” he says, “several clinicians at the table ask incredulously, almost in unison, ‘who gives carbohydrates to diabetics?'”
Fat. Protein. Carbs. Everything we eat is composed of these three. One of the consequences of the decades-long demonization of fat is that after you strike it off the ‘healthy food’ list, and after you delegitimize fatty protein such as red meat, carbs are just about the only thing left. Reputable health bodies have therefore been telling diabetics to eat food guaranteed to spike their blood sugar.
My maternal grandfather died young from diabetes. So far, I’m in the clear. Like everyone else, I was taught that being healthy was about minimizing fat. I’ve spent decades ordering chicken and fish – rather than cheeseburgers, steak, and ribs. I’ve skimped on butter, brie, and paté, in favour of low-fat granola, low-fat yoghurt, skim-milk, and extra-lean ground beef. The grams of fat per serving as reported by nutritional labels has long been a major determinant of what went into my shopping cart.
Three years ago, I changed gears completely. I now eat bacon for breakfast most days of the week. I consume chicken wings frequently (crispy baked in the oven – this recipe really works). I scoop out and toss away the flesh of baked potatoes, loading up the skins with butter, bacon, cheese, and full-fat sour cream.
Rather than being a staple, pasta is now a rarity (pasta accompanied by a baguette is completely off the menu). I order burgers without the bun. I eat lunches of meat, cheese, and veggies without bothering to assemble them into sandwiches. A dinner of fatty, flavourful sausages is now accompanied by an additional vegetable or an avocado – rather than by a serving of rice or potatoes.
In Feinman’s words: “Doctors don’t study nutrition. Nutritionists don’t study medicine. Neither study much science.” If fat is fattening, I should have gained 40 pounds by now. Instead, clothing that had grown tight now fits nicely again.
TOP TAKEAWAY: For me, paying attention to the carbs per serving, rather than to the fat per serving, is a sustainable weight control strategy. It also feels naughty – which makes me smile :-)
Disclaimer: My blog post two days ago advocates being upfront about personal philosophies, so that readers can take such information into account. This post is written in that spirit. Everyone’s body and medical situation is different. What works for me may not work for you.
|The World Turned Upside Down: The Second Low Carbohydrate Revolution
Richard David Feinman
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