Friday, July 22, 2005

Enough - Enough - Enough Already!

Hey, I'm guilty of it - each day I write about how I think we should eat for maintaining weight and good health. But, it seems, Americans are not only fed up with the constant barrage of "healthy eating" messages, but we're also totally confused! Well, some of us are...

Porter Novelli just released the findings from a recent survey of Americans they conducted. The results of their survey were presented at the IFT Annual Meeting [Institute of Food Technologists] and found:
  • 20% of Americans are totally confused about how they should eat
  • 25% are tired of others telling them what to eat
  • 80% believe that within the next 5-years the dietary advice will change radically


I can understand the confusion and frustration though - as the "experts" bicker about the various dietary approaches available that are supported by evidence, 2 out 3 Americans remain overweight or obese and the conflict within the medical and scientific communities over which approach is best is based on a "one-size-fits-all" (doomed to fail) mentality.

Don't think for a moment that the stakes in the debate aren't high - they are skyhigh - whole careers and industry product lines have been built on a single belief - that dietary fat is the cause of our weight and health problems. To abandon such a belief is to abandon everything you think you know and believe.

Let me tell you a story. A true story.

Back in 1969 there was a doctor. A Dr. Kilmer McCully. While researching the cause of pre-puberty deaths in children with atherosclerosis, he discovered the damaging potential of homocysteine. He found a genetic defect that allowed extremely high levels of homocysteine to accumulate in their blood which seemed to cause massive plaque build up. He published his findings and, believe it or not, promptly lost his job. He'd found himself on the wrong side of the "conventional wisdom" about the role of cholesterol in heart disease.

Mind you, he wasn’t saying that homocysteine was the only cause of heart disease. He was saying, and continued saying for 30 years, that cholesterol by itself is not the only cause of heart problems. His findings were again published in JAMA in 1998 - after three decades of toiling away in ignored obscurity due to an irrational resistance to his findings.

As with many breakthroughs, Dr. McCully’s data was first ignored, then ridiculed, then persecuted, and finally accepted as the establishment’s own. Yes, today the experts do accept the role that homocysteine plays in the development of heart disease.

Some real food for thought in this story - think of the amount of evidence that has been potentially smothered over the years by this "status quo" approach that is part daily life in the scientific community. More to the point, think of the people who died needlessly from heart disease simply because physicians did not have the latest information on homocysteine and other risk factors.

Now think about the debate over dietary recommendations and our obesity epidemic. Do you believe the overwhelming weight of the evidence suggests that dietary fat is the cause of our woes? Or, would you prefer the truth?

While the American public is left confused, frustrated and at their wits end over the whole issue, the experts cling to the belief that it's the dietary fat that is the root cause of our problems. Oh, and of course, it's also too many calories and not enough exercise...but at the end of the day, it's still the fat in our diet.

If only the truth was so simple.

Today there is so much evidence that suggests our blind acceptance that it's the dietary fat is wrong. Yet, the discussion about fat isn't a discussion, it's a debate, fueled by an irrational need to maintain the "status quo." As this debate continues at a fever-pitch, the real problems of our dietary habits are ignored.

The truth is we've thrown the baby out with the bath water in this obsession with dietary fat intake. We've missed the point - eating a diet that is rich with nutrients and provides for good health in the long-term is the key.

I'm afraid, things aren't going to get better any time soon. Until enough researchers and doctors and other healthcare professionals stand up and say "enough is enough" and step back from the "conventional wisdom" to ask the hard questions, little is going to change.

That doesn't mean you can't do something about it now!

For me that has meant discarding everything I once thought was true about nutrition - educating myself about essential nutrients and which foods provide the most "bang for the buck" and making nutrient-density the priority.

I don't count calories, fats, carbohydrates or anything else - what counts is how nutrient-dense my days are. I eat real, whole foods with little added-sugar. I shop for and prepare meals that are nutrient-dense and look not for convenience today, but value the convenience of good health in the long-term. And, I keep up with the science.

You can too! There is no reason to be confused or frustrated by the idea of good eating habits - it comes down to common sense, and that I am confident my readers have plenty of. Take the time to read, educate yourself and understand how real, whole foods are the cornerstone of health - once you do that, it's much easier to tune out the debate and enjoy your life and your food!

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Regina! Now if only the mainstream would stop scaring the hell out of people regarding fat intake and the "dangers" of ketogenic diets, etc., we'd all be much better off. It's easy to control the thought processes of people when you have them scared and confused.