Mondays are Physical Day at Taking it to the Streets
Tuesdays are Ideas/Information Day at Taking it to the Streets
So today you get a ‘two-fer’ – a book review on a book about nutrition and health. I wrote a bit about this book when I first started reading it and promised I’d report back to you.
So let me start by saying that if you’re a woman you’ve either read or thumbed through “women’s magazines”. And maybe you’ve noticed all the eight zillion articles about how you HAVE TO BE thin to get a man and thus, have a worthwhile life. If you are a thinking woman this perhaps has annoyed you.
I know many women in my community (I’m gay) are insulted by this cultural bias and seem to take it almost as a point of pride to do a little flip-off to “lookisms” and the tyranny of slenderness by just Not.Giving.A.Shit
And while I personally find overweight to be aesthetically unpleasing, I do agree that having fashion set by gay male fashion designers who seem to want women to look like teenaged boys is rather annoying.
If the whole question of weight were just aesthetics, I’d say “well, to each their own” and not give it another thought.
This book made me take (at least internally – at least for now) a more strident stance.
Because it’s truly a matter of life and death.
At the benefit concert for my 46 year old friend who just died of adenocarcinoma (111 days after diagnosis) her best guy friend, Greg, said to me: “You know, I’m getting disillusioned with the health care industry even though I work in it. A million dollars worth of tests and treatments and this is the best they can do. Really? I’m mad!”
I said to Greg that it is my belief that while many of the folks involved are no doubt well-intentioned, they aren’t looking at the big picture. Ask your family doctor how many classes they took in medical school on nutrition. And think about it – when was the last time you went to the doctor and got nutritional and lifestyle advice rather than a prescription? If the answer is “within my lifetime” you are amazingly lucky and I want the name of your doctor.
I keep reading in multiple areas that 75-80% of disease is “lifestyle” – meaning bad food and no exercise.
And the definition of “good for you food” keeps changing – which is what felt revolutionary to me about this book. When I first started reading about nutrition in the 1970s it was all about eating low-fat and carbs, carbs, carbs. Dr. Atkins came along in, I think, 1982, but that seemed like a diet-fad to me so I paid it no heed.
This guy – Gary Taubes – basically says that Atkins got it mostly right – but explains the science behind it. Thanks to him I understand what triglycerides are and how they relate to high-carb eating. I understand the role insulin plays in regulating your overall health. And I understand why it really is true that sleeping more helps you lose weight.
So the book has this “let’s sell a boatload of copies” title “Why We Get Fat” – and it talks a lot about weight loss. But I was reading it to find out about health – one of the main benefits of weight loss is very concrete health improvements.
However, when my brother started eating the Atkins diet (lots of meat, eggs, and green leafy veggies) I was very concerned about his heart as this our family’s weak link – heart disease. So Mr. Taubes has a whole section “The Heart Disease Argument” in his chapter “The Nature of a Healthy Diet” addressing just that very concern.
I was telling my friend last night that I’m eager to see what all ‘my numbers’ are when I go for an annual physical later in the spring. I’m kind of a “show me” girl – so I want to see if the changes I’ve been making – no wheat, very few grains of any kinds, virtually no processed foods, more protein, lots of veggies, fruit and nuts and (other than dark chocolate) no sugar – if that has made a difference.
One thing I DO know is that when I was eating the way I had learned was healthy I was fat and had high cholesterol. My BMI is still in the overweight zone, but not by a huge amount – so Taubes argument about weight loss seems true. And I’ll soon see what the other numbers say.
More protein. More fat (yes, you read that right). Less carbs. I’ll tell you one thing – you don’t get very hungry when you eat that way. The whole point of this is regulating your insulin. If you’re thinking “Well, we don’t have diabetes in my family” I’d say a few things – look around – there’s an EPIDEMIC of diabetes in this country. And also – unregulated insulin contributes to heart disease (which I knew) and cancer (which I did not) too.
If you care about nutrition and heath and longevity (and quality of life while you’re living a long time) I HIGHLY recommend this book. I’m tweaking the way I eat even more based on reading it.
Oops – time to go put my hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator so they’re ready for breakfast tomorrow. I’m open to changing how I eat to have a vibrant life – how about you?