Sunday, June 15, 2014

But pass the butter

So yesterday I referenced a NYTimes article about sugar and fatty liver disease.

Our copy of Time magazine came in the mail yesterday afternoon, and if you haven't seen news stories about the cover story yet, you must be one of those weird hippies who doesn't watch television.

Because it's been all over the news.

Pop down to your local library to read it, if you don't subscribe. Or heck, go out and buy a copy. Basically it says fat doesn't make you fat.

But it also says that our collective psyche is ingrained with the message that fat is the enemy, and it's going to take a lot of 'splainin' to convince some folks that eating cholesterol doesn't raise cholesterol.

1992: The initial USDA nutrition guidelines graphic.
That food pyramid from the early '90s is toast. Literally! The supporting plank was grains and more grains. And for 20 years prior to that we'd been advised, sans graphics, to avoid fats and oils and red meat, oh my.

The thinking at the time was that folks would replace fatty foods with broccoli and strawberries. Says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, "Well, that was naive."

Perhaps. Food manufacturers came to the rescue in the early '80s with an arsenal of low-fat or fat-free cookies, crackers and packaged snacks. And we were reeled in, hook, line and sinker, by the idea that if we just cut out the fat, we'd lose weight and reduce the incidence of heart disease and all would be well. Or, perhaps, Snackwell.

But the replacement for fat was high-fructose corn syrup. Because you can't make fat-free food taste good without some kind of sweetening agent, and HFCS is cheap. Food manufacturers took out fat, but added sugar. And we bought it.

The current USDA recommendations don't even have a spot for fat on the plate. Gingerzingi modified the official graphic from 2011, but I can't find it on her blog. [Update: She has reposted it today. Thanks!] I think I remember that she replaced Dairy with Water, took out the Grains and made Vegetables much larger. Help me out, buddy! I think it must have been from a previous iteration of your blog.

ANYWAY, her revised version is closer to the primal/paleo template I've been eating for more than a year now. I stray from time to time, but the general plan is meat, vegetables, fat and fruit. A little dairy once in a while doesn't seem to affect me. And pasture butter (either made from Amish cream or bought at Tiny Kroger) is definitely part of my diet.

The most powerful quote from the Time article for me is this:
"The argument against fat was totally and completely flawed," says Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, and the president of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition. "We traded one disease for another."
Read the article. Make up your own mind. The jury's still out, but as I've said before, we are each our own science experiment. And for me, fat is clearly not the enemy.


gingerzingi said...

Just for you, Debbi, I dug out that graphic and updated it a little.

On the topic of your post, there's a book out right now called The Big Fat Surprise that traces the history of the low fat nutritional guidelines. It's shocking, I mean absolutely shocking, how little science has gone into the guidelines for the past 60 years, and how much was based on personal agendas, fame, career success, money, and all the other weaknesses human beings are prone to. You'll end up blaming Big Food a lot less and the nutrition guidelines writers a lot more! Found it via Adele's blog, which you would also enjoy.

Debbi said...

Thanks, I also updated this post and put the link in. I'll look for that book. I used to read eathropology, but have gotten away from it. I'll add it back to my feedly feed. And I'll probably always blame Big Food, although I suppose they were just doing their job. Which is to nourish their stockholders, rather than nourish their customers.

Debbi said...

Just ordered the Kindle version of the book. Thanks for the recommendation.

Toledo Lefty said...

I limit fat AND sugar because both are high-density sources of calories that are easy to overdo, but I do put real half-and-half in my coffee and use real butter. I just don't use a ton of either one. And I have bacon maybe once or twice a month.

Toledo Lefty said...

And PS, I eat the whole egg, because the yolk is the tastiest part...

Vickie said...

We usually have to adjust at a certain point in our trip down the scale, and then adjust further down the scale. It is very much a process. And a learning experience.

So honestly, it might be more accurate to say fat was not an issue for your first X pounds (lost), adjusting carbs was key. And for your last X pounds, you might have to adjust something else (fat, source of fat, amount of fruit, etc).