The Whole Bag

Because I have been overweight for over 30 years I have heard and (mostly) read thousands of people in slimming magazines, on problem pages and in person talk about food addictions and cravings and bingeing. And in all those anecdotes, I have never heard of anyone bingeing on meat, fish, eggs or green veggies. 

–”curviest” from the UK

The person quoted above was responding to this poor woman:

I have always been the type to “polish off the whole box”. I have tried every strategy, dieting, not dieting, trying to distract myself… but I am a like a child, if there is cereal, bread, chocolate or cakes in the house I demolish them…If I’m honest, i can just polish off a whole packet of wheatgerm crackers

“Curviest” went on to suggest that the problem was carb addiction, not a lack of self control in general, and told them she’d seen these cravings disappear in 24 hours by having someone eat nothing but meat and fat for a whole day.

Interestingly  a lot of people on that page respond to the original post, mostly to agree that they can’t stop eating chips, cake, cookies, crackers, bread or anything else with grain and sugar in it. Most of them completely ignore “curviest’s” question/comment that no one seems to complain about overeating eggs or steak or broccoli. A few attribute the problem to “fat,” also ignoring the fact that every fat source mentioned as a popular bingeing item (like cake, cookies and chocolates) also comes laced with huge amounts of sugar and/or grain.

Plenty of people binge on fatty items, yes. But plenty also binge on things with little or no fat. This would be things like low fat cookies, pretzels, freshly baked bread, candy–and yet no one ever sits around bingeing on pure fat sources like butter or lard. People will eat three Almond Joys (or Mounds) in one binge, but they don’t buy a bottle of coconut oil and a straw and gulp it down over Letterman. So what does that tell us?

Now the typical thoughtless media article will tell you that the real problem is that people can’t stop eating fat. If the item in question is something with both fat and carbohydrates they invariably refer to it as the “fatty, sugary treat.” No one can deny people love their sugar, and yet no one can resist the urge to vilify fat at any opportunity. After all, it makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Fat makes you fat.

When I first came to Asia…and actually still today….I would roll my eyes secretly when dishes were placed on the table and my Asian friends say things like:

You eat the eyeballs. Eating the eyes is good for your sight.

Here, you eat the brains. It makes you smarter.

You must eat this liver. It is good for your liver.

Eat the cow stomach, it is good for digestion.

I never said anything; that would be impolite. But one year an Australian woman came to the town I was in. Being brand new to the area, she didn’t really grasp how important these health claims about their food were to the egos of her hosts. After a few days of the kind of statements listed above, this lady had finally had enough. After being told that eating some hearts would be good for her heart she replied: “Wow, that’s great to know. If I eat these chicken wings will I be able to fly?”

Needless to say, she greatly offended those who understood the sarcasm. Luckily that wasn’t many, since most of them didn’t speak English. In reality, most of the people present probably just thought she was an idiot. And she kind of was. Some of those health claims were probably true.

But she was not as big an idiot as you and I have been, my friends. As big an idiot as nearly every “nutritionist” you can shake a stick at. We’ve done exactly the same thing. What makes you fat? Fat. Why? Well….because it’s fat.

No one does tests, for example, to see if rats will binge on plain sugar or on plain, unsweetened fat. They always get them to binge on fatty and sugary items–like Oreos, which are also full of all kinds of other things besides fat and sugar–and then confound their results by blaming the “fatty, sugary treat” again. This is terrible science. Despite the call not to be afraid of Oreos, since they “only serve as a representative for fatty, sugary treats,” we can’t do anything but be afraid of Oreos, because the researchers involved didn’t finish their work.

They claim that they’re finding “proof” for what they are right to call only a hypothesis: fat and sugar are addictive. The problem is there are so many unanswered questions: is it the fat that is addictive? Is it the sugar that is addictive? We might postulate that fat and sugar are addictive when combined, but innocuous when separated. Or that one is the actual addictive substance (my vote is for sugar), but its effects are magnified by the presence of the other. Or that it is the flour and sugar combination that is so addictive; or the flour and fat; or the flour, fat, and sugar. Or maybe it’s the high fructose corn syrup, which is different from sugar.

Unfortunately they’ve done nothing whatsoever to actually help clear up any of these questions. All we’ve learned is that Oreos alone have a heroin-like effect on the brain of rats. Here are the ingredients in Oreos:

enriched flour, sugar, high oleic canola oil or soybean oil, cocoa, high fructose corn syrup, leavening, cornstarch, salt, soy lecithin, vanillin, and chocolate

I mean, really. What if the flour wasn’t enriched? What if the oil was coconut instead of soybean? What if you didn’t add vanillin and chocolate to the mix?

If they actually wanted to test the hypothesis they claim, they would have locked those rats in three separate rooms–one filled with pure sugar, one filled with pure lard and one filled with lard mixed with sugar–and then observed which rats had brain changes and to what degree. They could have also had the added benefit of seeing which rats porked up on which diet.

Edit: Check out this study, where they determined that overeating was being “fueled by carbohydrates.”


Plato says he’s hungry

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