(WHEN HUNGER STRIKES)
10 June 2011
It’s been almost a month since
I have gone back to my strict low-carb way of life and I am absolutely loving it!
What is this “low carb” way of life that I am talking about?
It is a lifestyle that excludes sugars and refines starches and promotes fresh whole foods for optimal health. It is an adequate protein, higher fat, low carbohydrate approach to cooking and eating, which simply guarantees great food. As any gourmet will tell you, the best food comes from the best produce. I buy as fresh as possible and try to stay away from processed foods.
It’s low carb, not no carb,
so I eat lots of non-starchy vegetables and low glycemic fruits. Low glycemic foods impact blood sugar the least. In fact,
I am eating way more vegetables with this lifestyle than I have
ever eaten in my life. That is what happens when you replace flour with greens!
Another critical issue is that low carb diets redesign the food pyramid, which depicts the
ratios of foods to be eaten in a healthy, balanced diet from the largest quantities at the bottom to those that should be eaten in the smallest quantities at the peak of the pyramid.
In the 1980s, there was a public health campaign, a public health movement against dietary fat. We were encouraged to cut fats and increase our carbohydrate consumption as a recommendation for better health. There was no real scientific backing and studies that were used to prove a correlation between dietary fats and cardiovascular disease could also be interpreted to incriminate carbohydrates. In that decision, recommended daily allowances moved from being just about health towards a very scary political debate. It was the beginning of the low-fat era.
Ironically, America got fatter on low-fat diets as the public health experiment turned out to be a grand failure. The climb in obesity to epidemic proportions over the last 30 years is plenty of evidence.
Fats were demonised and identified as the evil of the human diet. Saturated fats were dealt the hardest blow as people were urged to stay away from them and use margarine and partially-hydrogenised fats like vegetable oils and shortening instead. It has since been shown that these man-made fats were very unhealthy, containing the dreaded trans fats that we have now proven to be the cause of much disease.
Researchers such as Dr Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes have poked holes in the science that was used to back up the low fat debate, and have proven that there was indeed no scientific backing to lowering dietary fats and increasing carbohydrate consumption and that it is the increase in carbohydrate that has led to obesity becoming an epidemic.
But does this really sound strange to you? Did your mother and grandmother tell you that if you want to lose weight or maintain your weight, you should watch your starches and sugar? I bet they did! Conventional wisdom told us by experience that eating too many potatoes too often and too many mangoes were both sure-fire recipes to see an increase on the scale.
Conventional wisdom also made us cook with whole, naturally occurring foods, which came from natural organic farming practices, which were full of flavour. The supermarket was not as important as the market because fresh foods were the mainstay of our diets. Whatever nature provided, was what we ate: fish, poultry, meat, vegetables, dairy, eggs, nuts, fruit and whole grains.
Suddenly, in the low-fat craze all of these natural foods were reduced to their caloric values and those that had higher calories were no longer good. We saw our foods being taken apart and ripped open in support of faulty science. We were told to eat eggs, but not the yolks, and drink dairy, but skimmed, and eat cheese but low fat.
In so doing, we wrongly redefined “healthy foods” as tasteless denatured foods. No wonder so many of us cringe at the very thought of eating “healthy food.” It is an inaccurate definition of healthy because the things that are most healthy occur in nature as they are. Food was never meant to be manipulated with in order to save a few calories. Dietary fats are present to aid the absorption of essential nutrients and saturated fats are shown to be a great addition to a diet.
Just remember Michael Pollan’s food for thought in his book In
Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto “Don’t eat anything incapable of
rotting.” And in the meantime, I will have me some chicken curry cooked in coconut oil with a nice big salad while I re-watch the life-changing documentary Food Inc for the umpteenth time. I guarantee you that I will not fall asleep and will feel so energised that I may just go to the gym for a workout afterwards.
Kari is a Dubai-based journalist and photographer of the food blog www.chefandsteward.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChefandSteward and get recipes at: