Just in case you were feeling too good about yourself today, I’m here to tell you about two horrifying health books I read recently. They aren’t horrifying in the way Victorian-era medical books (and all their conditions ending “-cholia”) were. More in the grim death pointing his finger saying, “This could happen to you!” sort of way.
The first is, “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taube. Gary Taube is one of those names where the line between first and last blurs and I end up calling him Garytaube as if it were all one name. I picked this one up, because I’ve been working out 4-6 days each week, for 45-60 minutes for six months and I’ve lost a grand total of 6 pounds- most of which I had gained with an unfortunate protein shake incident (all you need to know is that it involved math). Anyway, I wanted to know why I wasn’t losing anything. So, as I started to read, I thought, “Hmm…this is interesting.” I read a little more and thought, “Lots of science in this book.” Then I started to think, “I don’t like where this seems to be going.” By the last few chapters I wanted to flick Gary Taube a double bird (both middle fingers).
Why did I want to make obscene gestures at the author? Basically because the science in this book says: if Beth likes it, don’t eat it. Not only that, but it also says the only way to outsmart your genes, which are the reason for your extra lusciousness in the first place, is to go low carb. That includes eliminating starches. STARCHES! I f’ing LOVE potatoes! But I am also tubby, so draw your own conclusions.
I know it’s not Gary Taube’s fault. He’s just the messenger and nothing in this books is new. As he states many times, these were the prevailing ideas about how to lose weight until the 1960s. This book is very, very well researched. There are tons of studies and sciencey things that make a lot of sense. But I’m an art student, so I hope you were not expecting me to recount them. That would just leave us both confused and disappointed (like me after a meal without starches). The main thing is that carbs trigger insulin and insulin signals our body to store fat. The only way to get our body to release the stored fat is to get our blood sugar on a nice consistent low path.
Even with all that science, Gary Taube manages to get a little humor in. I think it was unintentional, but I had to laugh when he said he didn’t understand why obesity studies do not include photographs of obese individuals. Oh, Gary Taube, I’d like to field this one. It’s because doctors go to school for a long time and are not dumb. Just imagine you are in your doctor’s office in that gown that is thinner then a dinner napkin, freezing your behind off (why is it ALWAYS like 43 degrees in the doctors office on gown day?), and the doctor starts his exam. He takes one look at you and says, “Mrs. Whateveryournameis, I’d like to include a photo of your body in my obesity research study.” He could say it in Alan Rickman’s very official and smart-sounding British accent with no emotion and it would make no difference. What Mrs. Whateveryournamis would hear is Larry the Cable Guy’s voice saying, “Damn girl! I ain’t never seen nothin’ like that before!” He leans his head out the door and shouts, “Otis, get in here! And bring the camera! It’s like Bigfoot- no one is gonna believe us if we ain’t got no proof!” And like that, Mrs. Whateveryournameis finds a new doctor. That’s my theory anyways.
The second book is “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Just in case you aren’t convinced by “Why We Get Fat” that carbs are the Devil’s food, “Wheat Belly” will drive the point home. It starts out giving a brief history of wheat and it’s genetic mutations. Wheat was originally modified with the best of intentions- to help get food quickly to starving people. But a typical mature wheat stalk went from 3-4 feet to 18 inches and now they are bred to resist mold, disease and bugs. So the grains we are eating now are not the same grains from even 100 years ago. There’s lots of science in this book, too, but after the history of wheat chapter, it’s easy to get through. Dr. Davis is a cardiologist in Milwaukee and has seen first hand in his patients how much eliminating wheat can improve someone’s health. The book is full of stories of patients lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, relieving symptoms of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and, of course, losing weight. Unlike Gary Taube, Dr. Davis is intentionally funny and this book is an easy read. It will definitely change the way you look at your Wonder Bread.
I hope I haven’t scared you too badly, but I want us all to be healthy and happy….with or without starches. Have a fabulous week!