March 29, 2001
In this issue:|
it possible that Spring is actually (finally) here?|
It's such a time of renewal. I feel it every year. I know everyone says "New Year Resolution Time" is when to start a new diet, but I can't think of a better time than the peaceful renewing time of Spring for reinvention of self.
And to all of you who've had a bit of a slip, just remember Robert Orben's quote,
"Spring is God's way of saying, 'One more time!'"
And now... on with the newsletter!
|"Our Yesterday is their Today..."|
The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds, and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.
Have you ever happened upon two amazingly skinny people standing around discussing "fat people"? There was a time when bumping into such a conversation meant they'd suddenly go silent and I'd hear nothing more than what I happened to catch before I was noticed. I expect that's because I was a fat person. My mere presence hushed 'em right up. But of course you know the minute I left, the discussion began again — with a comment or two about me thrown in.
Last week, for the first time since being "formerly fat", I ran across such a discussion. Guess what? They felt no need to quiet their mutterings. So I remained a discreet distance and listened. Yep, I eavesdropped.
The first thing I noticed was that as each of them spoke, they held in their hands a 20-oz bottle of Coke, an 11-oz can of Slim-Fast, and a 20-oz bottle of Mountain Dew respectively. And for your clarification, we're talking about 2 females - very early 20's and 1 male – perhaps 19.
I heard words like "gross", "undisciplined", "lazy"... You know... the usual. Yes, I stood there transfixed. Why I didn't just shake my head and walk away, I'm not sure. I expect I was hoping to gain a little insight. I think I did, but I'm not sure I'm the better for it.
The young man, I find out, works at a 24-hour grocery store. He begins by complaining that "...these tubbies come in and expect to use our wheelchairs to shop. Don't they know they're for HANDICAPPED people and not for a bunch of slobs who won't look in the mirror and see they just need to stop eating?!"
"Just need to stop eating..." His words ring in my ears. I'm sure I've heard those words before. As I glance up, his head is tilted back and he's downing the last of his Mt. Dew.
The girls giggle in agreement. One comments, "All they have to do is NOT put all that FAT in their mouths. Have they ever heard of a diet? And they feel sorry for themselves. Why should they? No one else does!"
I feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I see before me the attitude that keeps the Slim-Fast's cash registers Cha-Chinging. Blame the dieter. If you don't have success with our plan, it's because YOU have no discipline. It's because YOU don't care. I begin to see the "big picture" through that small 3-person window.
Their giggles and smirks fade off as they walk away, leaving their plastic 'empties' for someone else to take care of. My only satisfaction is knowing they'll know the truth soon enough. Their small bodies can only handle the onslaught of sugar so long. They feel free to guzzle because of course, that Coke is "fat free". Their teeth are rotting, their immune system is crashing, their insulin receptors are working triple-time. But it's all in slow-motion. All they see at real-speed is that they're not fat. And of course they attribute this to THEIR discipline and knowledge about staying fat-free. All the while they feed their addiction. And it won't be long before this Generation X is replaced by Generation XL.
Yes, the fat-free diet industry has done its job well. Let's look at what their goals would HAVE to be in order to remain viable:
1) They have to appear to care about your health and your appearance.CHECK
2) They have to cost enough to make them a fortune, but keep it just small enough that most Americans can find a way to pay for it. (To give you an idea of where Slim-Fast stands in the market, a year ago Unilever purchased Slim-Fast for $2.3 billion in cash. Slim-Fast holds 45 percent of the $1.3 billion nutritional supplement and weight-management market in the U.S. In the year ended November 1999, Slim-Fast had net sales of $611 million and operating profits of $125 million. No numbers for year 2000 are as yet available, but we understand they've grown considerably.)
3) They have to work at least a little — short term to prove they're "the way".
4) They have to ultimately fail. If they succeeded long-term, they'd lose their customer base. It's important each consumer try over and over again.
5) They have to make it appear the failure was YOURS. You saw they worked at first. If the success stopped, it must have been YOUR lack of discipline and willpower.
6) They HAVE to contain plenty of sugar. Without it, the addiction does not continue. You must remain addicted to that which causes cravings and hunger. Without the cravings you might succeed. Without the constant hunger you might succeed. Your failure is necessary for these products to sell. A Slim-Fast shake contains 38 grams of carbs — 27 grams of which are SUGAR — The first 2 ingredients of Slim-Fast are Sugar, then Fructose. An Ultra Slim-Fast contains 40 grams of carbs — 35 grams of which are SUGAR!! A Nestle Sweet Success contains 49 grams of carbs — 17 grams of which are SUGAR. Interested in their "bars"? You might want to note that the Slim-Fast bars contain as many as EIGHT different kinds of sugar — Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Honey, and High Maltose Corn Syrup. And while they're at it, they throw in trans-fats (partially hydrogenated oils) for good measure. Thank GOODNESS they care about our health.
CHECK Okay, so back to those Cokes and Mt. Dews (and all the rest) that seem to try to represent themselves as health and vitality (Ever see a FAT person in one of their ads? Ever see an overweight kid surfing through the air on a Mt. Dew rush? Ever see that little Pepsi girl's teeth?)
If we are what we eat, then Coca-Cola hints at what we've become.
Three decades ago, a Coke came in that shapely 6.5-ounce bottle and held less than 100 sugary calories. Now, the taller, plumper contour weighs in at 20 ounces and delivers 250 calories and 65 GRAMS OF SUGAR. Or, for the especially parched, there's the 64-ounce Double Gulp from 7-Eleven delivering a whopping 208 GRAMS OF SUGAR. Depending on one's preference for ice, it is a tub of 700 to 800 calories.
Cokes have expanded. So have the people who love them. In America's young people, as much as 25% of their daily calories are now coming from pure sugar. And obesity rates are skyrocketing. All the while, those whose figures have not yet made the "plump" continue to prop up the machinery with their 'disgust' of the fat. Amid the financial and health costs are the psychological costs borne by overweight members of a society obsessed with the slender bodies peering out from magazine covers. And they believe the only difference between them and the models is willpower.
I get letters each week from low-carbers who have a more difficult time because their home remains filled with 'junk'. They tell me they have to keep the sugar in the house for "the kids" who need the extra energy. I implore you to stop and think about this long and hard. Here's a sobering fact to mull over a bit... excuse my harshness:
Sales of oversized coffins at the nation's largest casket company are up 20 percent in the last five years; the biggest jump was last year. Don't wake up to find one of them contains your child.
Introducing KETO PIZZA DOUGH!|
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Net Wt. 6.3 oz. (180 g) Reg. $8.55 NOW $5.99
KETO CHOCOLATE MILK|
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Interview With a Doughnut
By Contributing Editor, Andrea K. Rogers
"You know, being a doughnut isn't as easy as it may look! I've got to look my best everyday, and I have to be the best tasting thing you've ever met," some sprinkles fall off the doughnut as he coughs up some sugary jelly. The mass of dough and sugar speaks roughly with a slight Brooklyn accent, his gargantuan body trembles, almost as if it's about to burst.
I steady myself, constantly trying to keep my gorge down, trying not to betray my true identity — a low-carber. I look at him squarely, his chocolate eyes peering into my soul, but I proceed with the questioning.
"Mr. Doughnut, why do you consider yourself a favorite within your class of sugary sweets?"
The mass of horrific fried sugar and flour laughs, my stomach turns at the sight. He settles himself, picking up a few stray sprinkles and stuffing them into his mouth. He looks back at me, his eyes glazed with sugary venom.
"Why Mrs. Rogers, I am the most sinful of them all. No human can resist me. They all know that I am the worst thing they can put into their mouths, but they all reach out to me, time and time again. I am a sinful, sweet, and supreme little temptation."
He glares back at me, the corners of his smile drooling and oozing with jelly.
"You're proud to bring people to heart disease and obesity? You like causing people pain?"
I am outraged at the thought of this thing intentionally causing so many people the pain of sugar addiction and the resulting health problems. I take a deep breath, steadying myself for his answer.
"Of course I am! But it's their choice, Mrs. Rogers. Like I said, all I do is look my best and keep my sweet reputation consistent. It's the people who buy me and eat me that are to blame! I am what I am, and I'm proud of it!"
The doughnut wipes a powdered sugar mustache off his face and looks at me point-blank, awaiting another question.
"Buy why?! Why do they love you so? Even the low-fat dieters eat you and you're high in fat! What is it about you, Mr. Doughnut, what compels us to you?" I asked him desperately, trying to find the reason for his power over people.
"Because I'm addictive. I'm like that cigarette some people reach for, the cup of coffee they have in the morning; I'm there waiting. I taste good, over and over again. When I'm digested in your stomach, my particles invade your blood stream, causing your body to go on full alert. Over time, I change your chemistry so much, your body will slowly weaken, and I will command you. Your moods will continue to change; your body will change, all because of me. But you reach for me time and time again because I'm more addictive than nicotine; I'm more addictive than caffeine. I am sugar; mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and in-laws encourage me, devour me, love me. I am the sweet death that lives in every welcoming bowl of M&M's or can of sugar-sweetened soda. All love me, and all who cook and eat worship me. My power is absolute. Large corporations support and lobby for me, the general populace know nothing of my plans for world domination. I am the worst thing to happen to man; I am the sneakiest, stealthiest, and most evil of all evils. I am in your home right now, waiting for your children to reach out for me, taking years off their lives, and you thank me for it! Ha! You fools! I am a temporary distraction to them, I make them happy, but if you only knew! Ha! They don't know what's comin' to them."
I sat there, my mind and body in shock. His smile filled his whole front side. His eyes glared at me with a maddened determination. The room began filling with a sugary smoke, maybe from the powdered sugar. I felt like I was going to choke on it. But my eyes suddenly lit up and I straightened myself, ready to beat this beast down. It was time to throw away my guise!
"What about the low-carbers Mr. Doughnut? We don't succumb to you! We don't worship you! What about the low-carbers?!"
His face filled with surprise, but he quickly recovered his composure.
"Oh, you people. You don't worry me too much. So what? A few people are following a stupid fad diet, loosing weight and feeling better than they ever have. It won't last. You'll fall off. The temptation is everywhere! I'm in the stores, I'm on the TV, and people worship me everywhere. You low-carbers will feel the pressure from your families, from your friends. You've ostracized yourselves from society. It won't be long until you follow the rest of the herd, the human race that is. It'll be temporary, my power over people is too strong, and I will win this war. Besides, it's such a pain to cook your own food. I'm cheap and easy, you don't even have to think! You press a button the microwave and "poof", you have a meal in five minutes! Nah, this low-carb fad will be here today and gone tomorrow."
I heard the fear in his voice; his mass was fidgety and it was trembling slightly. Sprinkles were falling off like little sugar bombs. Righteous justice was all I felt. After years of killing people, this monster was uncovered for what he was. Death. People had wizened up to his schemes and now they were joining together to fight him. We, the human race, would bond together and control him, make HIM our slave. I smugly stared at him and politely stood up.
"Mr. Doughnut, I thank you for taking the time to speak with me. You are truly powerful, but I think you shouldn't underestimate us low-carbers. We are powerful people, we have strength of will, we have determination, and most of all, we have knowledge. We will use these against you. Your reign of terror and death are coming to an end. We will see to it."
My words cut through the powdery sweet air like a knife through bread. His chocolate eyes betrayed fear and he started to cough up some more jelly. I turned around and started to walk away.
"You won't be able to get rid of me that easy, Mrs. Rogers! I'm everywhere, supported by everyone! Even your own doctors love me! You can't be rid of me!"
I smiled to myself and kept walking away from that menace. I was done with Mr. Doughnut, but more importantly, I was done with sugar. Now to spread the word...
Due to popular demand, we have added more
exciting bakery treats ready to ship to your front door!
I was in the grocery store one day when...
Gee, it sure seems a lot of my columns start like that. Just goes to show you that a trip to the grocery is the great equalizer. We all have to go there. If you're on a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet, a low-cal diet, you're vegetarian, all-organic, any combination, or no diet at all, you still wind up in the same big building pushing the same clunky metal carts!
Of course, we low-carbers are still pretty under represented in the specialty products department (hence the need to often shop online), but most of the bigger chains have at least an Atkins products area. Our local Kroger even carries Atkins Ready-to-Drink shakes. (I love those!)
Ok, back to my point...
It's a late Friday night, I'm tired after a long day at work, and I'm running in with a "honey-get" list. The list is made up of your basic essentials for the kitchen of a family of low-carbers. Cream, eggs, hamburger, cheese, bacon, etc. You know — the "staples" of a low carb diet.
The parking lot is crowded and I wince thinking about fighting the people and the checkout lines. As I enter through the first set of doors (where the aforementioned carts are kept), the interior walls are lined with portable shelving stacked high with Easter candy. The sheer mass of sugar is staggering. I haven't even officially entered the store yet. It's as if to say, "Welcome to our store. We have what we know you want..."
Just through the glass doors I can see tables set up and lined with donuts, pastries, cookies, and other bakery "specials".
Once inside, I navigate my cart toward the center of the store thinking it will be "shorter" to cut through the middle on my way to the back. Uh-oh... I chose poorly. In my haste I didn't realize I'd entered the realm of Cap'n Crunch and Count Chocula. The aisle is packed. People to the right of me fighting for the box of Sugar Smacks while their child lunges out of his cart seat for Lucky Charms. I wonder why the store is this crowded on a Friday night... Eventually I make my way past the mélange and find myself at the back of the grocery — in front of bacon, sausage, and sliced ham. I look around me. No crowd. No one. It's just me back there. The nearest group is huddled further down at the Lunchables display and a child whines for the one with the "good" cookies. As I proceed through the store, filling my cart with list items, I keep to the outer perimeter — the place where processed foods don't show their faces. The areas where fresh meats sit in cases, leafy produce remains lonely, and cartons of cream go unnoticed. But the aisles are still packed. As I drift past frozen foods, a man is putting Cool Whip and Mrs. Smith's pie in his cart. In dry goods there's some sale on Rice-a-Roni and the stock boy is getting new boxes out and into the display, and in the candy/holiday aisle, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps seem to be leaping from the shelves as if they were the real thing. I move my cart forward toward eggs, completing my "honey-get" list.
Why do I feel like as I walked out I should have been wearing a shirt that said, "I survived Kroger's and all I got was this crummy T-Shirt"? After all, I did just navigate a minefield, didn't I?
Keeping it VERY low carb!
We've gotten numerous requests for a batch of super low carb recipes that are suitable for Atkins' induction level. We expect the flurry of new subscriptions coincides with new dieters, so here are some favorites — all under 3 carb grams per serving.
Very Low Carb Cheese Muffins
Gnocchi alla Florentine
Classic Quiche Lorraine
Chinese Roasted Chicken
Fennel seed and ginger make this entree richly fragrant
The Madness of King Cholesterol
Well, it seems the media never fails to provide me with something from which to create a new "rant". And they've just done it again. I open my paper to an article entitled, "American Heart Association Warns Against High Protein Diets!"
My eyes drift to the passage, "...critics of high-protein diets acknowledge that people do indeed lose weight, at least temporarily, and as a result, cholesterol does drop — again, temporarily..."
What a skewed perception they have of this way of life. Or... DO they? Okay, so as I read these things that little conspiracy theorist raises its little low-carb head. But more about that later...
The article completely centers on cholesterol. Yes, that old chestnut — the cholesterol scare. It's the first thing I hear in the workplace or on trips when people hear I'm on the low-carb diet. I get comments like, "Aren't you worried about your cholesterol?" You can bet that person knows their latest cholesterol numbers better than they know their own phone number. It's a national obsession...
Did you know there's an entire website devoted to it? (Cholesterol.com of course.) They applaud Dean Ornish and Pritikin plans for keeping fat intake below 10% of calories. The amount of sugar and flour these guys have you eating will assure that the drugs they push on the site (like Lipitor, Zocor, etc) will continue to make a fortune.
Is it at all interesting that a hundred years ago no one ever heard of cholesterol, they all ate breakfasts of several eggs fried in a big cast iron skillet filled with bacon or sausage grease from the other component of their feast, and with it came a big cold glass of WHOLE milk (or coffee with CREAM), yet heart disease was practically unknown?
A century later, Americans consume nearly a pound a day of sugar, corn syrup and refined (stripped of nutrients) grains. For teenagers, the numbers are far higher. We eat huge amounts of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. And heart disease has become a killer of epidemic proportions.
So, let's take a good hard look at cholesterol and maybe, just maybe, we can put a few myths to bed. First, for those who are uncertain about what it all means, a quick primer:
Cholesterol is a waxy substance (a fat-like alcohol) produced naturally by the body and is vital for normal healthy functioning. Your body uses it for making sex and adrenal hormones, cell walls, and nerve sheaths. About 85% of all cholesterol in your body is manufactured BY your body (in your liver and in the cells of your small intestine) and the other 15% generally comes from your diet. The body regulates a general balance and when your diet lacks cholesterol, the body makes more. When you have an abundance in your diet, the body is free to make less. But make not mistake about it — your dietary intake of cholesterol DOES NOT AFFECT YOUR SERUM CHOLESTEROL LEVELS. Now, re-read that last sentence — it's important. We're not saying what you eat doesn't affect cholesterol levels — it does. We're saying the CHOLESTEROL in your food doesn't affect your cholesterol levels in your blood. What DOES cause elevated cholesterol levels is the presence of high amounts of refined carbohydrates in the diet.
Cholesterol is transported through the blood by two types of carriers: high density lipo-proteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). LDL is known as the 'bad' cholesterol. It has a low proportion of protein and carries most of the cholesterol in the bloodstream. HDL, conversely is the 'good' cholesterol, it has a high proportion of protein and carries cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver were it is then processed or removed. It acts as the body's natural counterbalance to LDL, so true cholesterol levels must be measured as a comparison between HDL and LDL levels — known as a "ratio".
Even more important, are the elements many people least understand — triglycerides. High triglycerides have been convincingly shown to be an independent risk factor for heart disease — as much a factor as obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure. The higher your triglycerides, the greater your risk for heart attack. In large amounts, triglycerides actually thicken your blood and keep it from flowing easily through your blood vessels. Clots can be formed and blockage occurs. But how often do you hear that your neighbor's heart attack was due to high triglycerides or sugar in his diet? Nope, you'll hear about all the fat and cholesterol he ate.
So why the cholesterol hype? Time for my little conspiracy theorist to come out and play...
Let's look at marketing... let's follow the money. The first thing of note: In the 1950's and 60's the Framingham Heart Study (you've heard us reference this before) first identified high levels of cholesterol as a risk factor in the cause of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) — at least it was supposed to show that. That's what it was funded to show (by the grain manufacturers.) The study was later published abbreviated and out of context to prove their nutritional points (which could not actually BE proven.) Problem is, for the next 30 years, the results could never be duplicated — of course, since they were never borne out to begin with. It wasn't until 1995 that the first study (funded by the carb-pushers) showed that lowering blood cholesterol levels improved chances of surviving a heart attack and of avoiding them. So riddle me this, then... Why is it that since the 1970's, drug companies have been pouring millions of dollars into developing cholesterol lowering drugs... drugs they did not yet know there was a need for?
The news hits full force and the media goes into a frenzy. It goes global. The British Heart Foundation produced a video in about the "Cholesterol Soaked Egg" urging us "...if you must use eggs, only use the white because the yolk is a killer"
That is no longer food on your plate — it is death. Thank God for men and women in white coats who put smears of butter under electron microscopes in order to form a more perfect Union. That butter has no secrets; it is naked before science.
How did the early people survive without all of our industrial nutritionism? I suppose they got hungry and then found something to eat. Perhaps a wild boar hunted and prepared for the family. Perhaps a gathering of blueberries. Surely not a fat-free Entenmann's... So, did they all die and disappear from their dietary folly? Did the human race extinguish itself in a soufflé of ignorance? I don't think so.
Television tells us cholesterol will make sludge in our arteries. Eggs and tasty butter, after all these years of being our friends, have finally become devils.
And suddenly the shelves from our local grocery are screaming the "truth" at us:
Follow that dollar. Apparently fear loosens dimes and quarters about as well as anything. If cholesterol could be known as a good thing, how could Parkay charge more for their margarine? Hmmm.. what they need is a way to raise the price!
How about a cholesterol scare? Hey, then they can take out something and charge more. Wait! Better yet, they don't HAVE to take out anything. Cholesterol-free margarine has always been cholesterol-free — cholesterol comes from animal products. Sure it's full of deadly trans-fats so it can be made dirt-cheap, but it has NO cholesterol!
Let's face it — it has nothing to do with health and everything to do with nickels and dimes.
I've lost 80 pounds low-carbing and am now at a normal weight. I've recently moved back to the town where my parents live, and because my mother's quite overweight, I have begun helping her on this low-carb path. None of this is the problem.
What's stressing me out is my new boyfriend. He's never known me overweight (though he knows I lost a lot.) Lately, when we are out around people, watching TV, or anywhere we come into contact with overweight folks, he makes stupid jokes or laughs at their laziness. This makes me VERY uncomfortable, and it escalated when he made a comment about my Mom (not in her presence, but it was still awful.) I am at a loss as to what to say to make him see this hurts me and that it's bigotry. Help!
Dear Laren —
Hurtful comments about overweight people are a pet peeve of mine, as you might imagine. Sadly, this attitude is so prevalent, that even intelligent and considerate people regularly make thoughtless remarks about other people's weight — it appears to be the last acceptable prejudice.
Why don't you respond to his unkind remarks with "Please don't say things like that. You know my mother is obese, and she's the furthest thing from lazy. No one wants her to lose weight more than she does — she just has a health problem called insulin resistance. You wouldn't make fun of someone who has cancer, would you?"
Only the biggest jerk would argue with you there. The problem is, your boyfriend has the markings of a really big jerk. To test whether he's salvageable, make him watch, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" If Johnny Depp doesn't inspire a good-guy impulse in your boyfriend, beware and be gone.
Thanks for all your letters, everyone! I get hundreds of letters each week and try to answer as many as I can.
Thanks for reading! Keep your suggestions and questions
coming in — we always want to hear from you! Remember, we
can't address every request and query, but the ones we hear
about the most or offer the greater potential to help others
will surely make their way here.|
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