Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eat Real Food

I remember, with horror, my days as a Carbo Crashing Junkie (CCJ) when I ate the standard “healthy” diet prescribed by practitioners throughout the western (entire?) world, full of “healthy whole grains.” A diet, I now recognize in retrospect was loaded with calorie dense, highly glycemic and highly palatable (read, you eat more and more and more) food guaranteed to, among other ills, cause metabolic syndrome. There is no doubt that, like trickle down economics, the standard western diet has failed miserably at achieving a healthy population. Rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and more, are now endemic in the western world, affecting at least two thirds of the population base.

The standard advice to exercise more and lose weight through a low fat calorie controlled diet is doomed to failure when the standard diet, focusing as it does on carbohydrate dense foods serves only to make people hungrier and hungrier as insulin spikes, then falls, then spikes again. The only answer is to reduce the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, particularly calorie dense carbohydrates that are promoted as a weight loss strategy by well intentioned but clueless practitioners.

Here in Australia, fatness is epic. I rarely see a slim Australian. What I do see are Australians whose entire diet is composed of various grains (in all their myriad forms, from breads to pastas to rice to noodles), calorie dense but nutrient poor starchy vegetables (the ubiquitous white potato), and an excess of treats. I am astonished at the amount of biscuits, cakes, pies, ice-creams, muffins, and other goodies that Australians eat. A treat is “an event that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure”, all those treats should be just that, treats, eaten sparingly, not at every snack and every meal. Even in my days as an unenlightened CCJ, I only ate treats sparingly, like one biscuit or a small serving of ice-cream per day.

Here in Oz, breakfast is some calorie dense, carbohydrate junk (frequently advertised under the “healthy whole grain” logo), followed by biscuits and cake for morning tea, capped a couple of hours later with some other calorie dense, carbohydrate crap (a thin slice of lettuce or tomato might accompany the “meal”). Then, as blood sugar inevitably crashes two hours later, some more biscuits, muffins, ice-creams, are consumed, followed in a brief two hours by dinner with, no doubt, white potato, rice, noodles, and possibly a very small amount of green vegetables.

It makes me crazy to watch. Some people seem to get away with it and are not too grossly obese, just mildly plump, others are big as buses. What they all share, plump and obese, is weight around the midsection, one of the cardinal signs of metabolic syndrome and the worst possible place to carry excess weight. The absolute disregard for their own health appals me. I worry about just sitting an excess amount of time on days when I can't be moving around all the time or missing my regular yoga session; these people are slowly (?rapidly) killing themselves and they don't care.

Some days I just want to scream at them all 'EAT REAL FOOD!'

Protein powered, tucking in to bacon and eggs before a ski day
at the Caribou Cabin

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