Vegan Keto Book Club
Just in case you are new here, we are starting a Vegan Keto Book Club, at the suggestion of the brilliant ERIN! And by a wide margin, the book that was voted in as the FIRST VKBC book was....
The Obesity Code!!!
So, as I mentioned way back when, I am going to be doing blog chapter summaries of each chapter on Saturdays, and then we will discuss the chapter on Sunday! So even if you aren't able to get through the full chapter in the week (we are all BUSY PEOPLE!) you can still participate in the book club!
SO, tomorrow is CHAPTER 1... and here is my chapter 1 summary/commentary!
Chapter 1: How Obesity Became an Epidemic
Dr. Fung begins this chapter with a question I'm sure many have asked themselves...
"Why are there doctors who are fat?
I mean it makes sense if you think about it... they should know EVERYTHING it takes to remain a healthy weight and have the dedication to turn that knowledge into action. And yet... this isn't always the case... Doctors want to throw out the simple advice "Eat less and move more!" but if it was THAT EASY, wouldn't they (of all people) be able to do something SO SIMPLE?
If even the most knowledgeable and disciplined doctors aren't able to do this... maybe there's a flaw in that SO SIMPLE LOGIC! Fung sets out in this chapter to explore if the "truths" we all believe are actually, in fact, TRUE...
I know I've heard them before, and I'm sure you've heard them before. We both probably BELIEVED in them very wholeheartedly, too. So starting the book by DOUBTING these... Dr. Fung, I'm interested.
Fung continues to work through another "truth" that so many believe: Weight gain/obesity is the cause of personal choice. In fact, "In a 2012 online poll, 61 percent of US adults believed that 'personal choices about eating and exercise' were responsible for the obesity epidemic. So we discriminate against people who are obese. We both pity and loathe them" (12).
How many of you have been in the position of feeling judged (by yourself or others) for gaining weight? I'm certainly raising my hand here! There was a point that I WAS eating healthy, and I WAS doing everything "right" and I STILL WAS GAINING WEIGHT. Clearly the issue was ME, right? I needed to EAT LESS. EAT BETTER. MOVE MORE. I didn't need others to pity and loathe me. I was doing that myself...
But again, Fung wants to challenge these beliefs that obesity and weight gain are caused by the sins of gluttony (eating too much) or sloth (exercising too little). THANK YOU, DR. FUNG!!!!! I like you already.
You know who else I like? Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826). Ever heard of him? I hadn't either. But apparently, he can be thought of as the "father of the low-carbohydrate diet" (TAKE THAT, ATKINS!)
In 1825, he wrote in "The Physiology of Taste" that "The second of the chief cause of obesity is the floury and starchy substances which man makes the prime ingredients of his daily nourishment. As we have said already, all animals that live on farinaceous food grow fat willy-nilly; and man is no exception to the universal law" (13). Also, don't feel bad if you got to "farinaceous" and were like uhhh what? I'm an English major/teacher and I Googled it, too. It means "consisting of, or containing starch." Welcome.
SO. In 1825, our friend Brillat-Savarin SAID THAT STARCHY FOODS WILL MAKE US GROW FAT!!!
(Feel free to face palm here. I did!!!)
Later, in 1863, another awesome dude named William Banting (1796-1878) followed up on Brillat-Savarin's ideas, writing the WORLD'S FIRST DIET BOOK, a pamphlet named "Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public." Banting's journey was like many of our own. He didn't have a family history of obesity and did not grow up obese, but he started to gain weight as he aged. He ate less... HUNGER. Exercise increase led to hunger increase led to... EATING MORE FOODS. (Again, we've all been there!!!)
So, Banting decided again to avoid "all breads, milk, beer, sweets, and potatoes" (14). And what do you think happened? Spoiler alert: Banting lost weight and kept it off; he was then compelled to write his pamphlet regarding his successes! "Weight gain, he believed, resulted from eating too many 'fattening carbohydrates'" (14). I feel you, Banting!
And, for the next 100 years or so, the treatment for obesity was... A DIET LOW IN REFINED CARBS! (In fact, my mom remembers seeing a book when she was growing up about FAT=GOOD, and CARBS=BAD!!!)
Unfortunately, books on calorie counting were also becoming more popular. At the same time, there were more people dying from heart disease and cancer (because vaccines and antibiotics meant they were NOT dying from other things...), a situation which was falsely considered a "GREAT EPIDEMIC" (Which... epidemic it was not.) As Fung explains, "If people were not dying of tuberculosis, then they would live long enough to develop their heart attack" (16). And so the public sought out the CAUSE for all these heart attacks... well it MUST be dietary fat, right? Doctors plowed forward with LOW FAT=GOOD!
Yet, let's think of our main macronutrients. Fat, carbs and protein. Fung explains, "Lowering dietary fat meant replacing it with either protein or carbohydrates. Since many high-protein foods... are also high in fat, it is difficult to lower fat in the diet without lowering protein as well. SO, if one were to restrict dietary fats, then one must increase dietary carbs and vice versa. In the developed world, these carbs all tend to be highly refined [therefore] LOW fat= HIGH carbohydrate" (16).
But wait... carbs were bad, right? But now carbs are good? For so long, carbs were bad, but now carbs are good? Instead of thinking a little harder about which one was truth, nutrition experts shrugged and declared CALORIES fattening, not CARBS. CALORIES were now the enemy, not particular FOODS.
With that, "Calories in/Calories out" pushed out "don't eat carbs".............
..........And that's where it all went wrong.
(Nutritionist John Yudkin (1910-1955) TRIED to warn people, as his work led him to the conclusion that fat and heart disease were not related. He subsequently wrote the book, "Pure, White, and Deadly: How [SUGAR] is Killing Us" in 1972, detailing his belief that SUGAR was the obesity/heart disease culprit.
A few short years passed with scientists debating whether fat or sugar was to blame.
But in 1977, the official decision was made! The "Dietary Goals for the United States" came out and a whole nation of people were told "eat less fat and more carbohydrates."
Specifically, that carbs should be 55-60% of calories, with fat being no more than 30%. Sugar was still seen as a food to avoid, but by all means EAT ALL THE REFINED GRAINS THAT YOU WANT!
And which nutritionist provided the evidence to change the way we were told we should eat....?
I'M GLAD YOU ASKED BECAUSE IT WASN'T A NUTRITIONIST AT ALL. IT WAS A POLITICIAN.
OUR ENTIRE FUTURE WAS CHANGED BECAUSE A POLITICIAN DECIDED IT TO BE TRUE.
Does that make you as angry as it makes me?! Because it makes me ANGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To make matters worse, as time went on, the food pyramid eventually came about, with the FOUNDATION OF OUR DIET LISTED AS CARBS!!! 6 or more servings a day, to be exact! The "American Heart Association: An Eating Plan for Healthy Americans" pamphlet recommended these six servings come from "breads, cereals, pasta and starchy vegetables (that) are low in fat and cholesterol" (18). FRUIT PUNCH AND CARBONATED SOFT DRINKS WERE ALSO RECOMMENDED AS DRINKS OF CHOICE.
Y'all.... just.... no...
And what do you think happened? Sugar, the one evil we could all agree on... hid behind "low fat" and "low carb" labels, and we stopped noticing (or caring) about sugar levels. We ate 45% more refined grains in America... So it wasn't like people were loading up on "cauliflower and kale" but rather "low-fat bread and pasta" (19).
And by 1996, 20 short years later, fat consumption went down ten percent to 35%! People ate less butter and less animal protein and fewer eggs! They were eating GRAINS AND SUGAR INSTEAD!
And, "The American Heart Association... felt that low-carbohydrate diets were dangerous fads, despite the fact that these diets had been in use almost continuously since 1863" (19). TUCK THAT FACT IN YOUR TOOLBELT AND GET READY TO FLING IT AT THE NEXT PERSON WHO CALLS LCHF a FAD!!!!
But hold on. Let's be fair. Let's look at the results of this diet. Just because WE think they are bad, doesn't mean that people weren't RESPONDING WELL to them, right? I mean who would continue to let a country eat in such a way that would be making them FATTER and SICKER, right.... RIGHT!??!!!
Welllllllllllllllll. Heart disease did not go down. (shocker) Rates of obesity, instead, went up (SHOCKER!).
And (this is my favorite part).
Remember how 1977 was the year that FAT was declared the enemy and carbs okay to eat?
Guess what year these obesity rates began to increase... ????? Oh come on, take a guess!!! (I'll wait...)
IF YOU GUESSED 1977 YOU ARE RIGHT! "The abrupt increase in obesity began exactly with the officially sanctioned move toward a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Was it mere coincidence?" (20).
So, to recap very simply:
EVEN IN MORE SIMPLE TERMS.... Low-carb=good health. High-carb=poor health.
Yet what are we still told we should do? Avoid fat and eat carbs!
Goodness gracious this chapter made me angry!!!!!!!!!!
Why would I ever think to question what's being fed to us (no pun intended) as the "healthy" diet?
They say fat is bad! They say carbs are good! As a result, I eat less fat! I eat more carbs!
And I get sicker and sicker and sicker.
I think it must be my own fault! Move more, eat less, right!? I move more, I eat less!
And I get sicker and sicker and sicker.
THIS CHAPTER ALONE hooked me, though I did feel somewhat of a conspiracy theorist after reading it...
THE GOVERNMENT IS LYING TO YOU, CAN'T YOU SEE!!!!
But who would question what we've been told for so long? (Nevermind the increase in poor health...)
I am SO GLAD I came across this book and I am SO EXCITED to read it along side you all! (Truth be told, I've only read about half the book! But already I knew it was something special we ALL should read!)
So, drop your thoughts in the comments below, and/or join us on FB at Vegan Keto Book Club!
Until Next Time!
I have been carb-loving vegan for over a decade, but carbs stopped loving me as I approached 30...