Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sorry Shape

I was in sorry shape. I was fat. I drank too often and to excess. I slept poorly. I was weak. I was prone to infection. I was often exhausted. My memory was poor; mental acuity (a trait that I value highly) had begun to wane. I often felt stressed. I felt good only one day in ten.

I thought it was own damn fault. If only I could get hold of myself and make myself do better, I thought, I could change all this. I could make myself eat less - and better. I could make myself put the bottle down. (It was a bottle and not a can. I drank bourbon, most often Evan Williams.) I could make myself exercise and whip my flabby body into shape.

I've come to think that all this was bullshit. (Not just wrong, but bullshit. I was more than wrong. I was full of shit. I don't mean to offend, but English offers no other way to make the point.) Now of course I wasn't the only one full of shit. The culture around us pounds the point in. It says that obesity is a matter of will and will alone. If someone is obese, it is a result either of indolence, gluttony or both. Our culture tells us that obesity is a result of moral flaw, of vice; and it demands that we reject vice for virtue and make ourselves into better beings.

I suggest to you that you reject all this. I suggest that you reject the view that obesity (and its attendant diseases) is a sign of vice.

I don't mean to say that if you're obese, you're a helpless victim. You are a victim, but you are not helpless. What you lack is a knowledge of the real cause of your obesity. It does not lie in weakness of will, and thus its solution does not lie in moral reform. Rather the real cause is malnutrition. If you're fat, you don't give your body what it needs. (Most of you, anyway. I mean to speak only of the most common cause of obesity.)

I will not attempt to prove the point. Others have already done so. I refer you to Gary Taubes'Good Calories, Bad Calories. It's a seminal work. I do not know whether it will result in a paradigm change, but it should.

Let me say only that I am persuaded of the point. The cause of obesity is malnutrition. Now that I've begun to give my body what it needs, the problems that I described at the start - weakness, exhaustion, obesity and all the rest - have either resolved or have begun to resolve. (I value most the greater power of memory and the greater mental acuity. I'm an academic by trade.)

If you're unfamiliar with Taubes, you will wonder just what I mean when I say that obesity (and all that other ills that attend obesity) is caused by malnutrition. I'll keep it simple. Rice, wheat, tubers, legumes and refined sugar - indeed all carbohydrate rich, micronutrient poor foods - became part of the human diet only very recently. Our bodies our not adapted to them. If we make them staples (as almost all of humanity has done), we become afflicted by the so-called "diseases of civilization" - obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, certain common cancers, and certain forms of dementia. (The list is not complete. Google "diseases of civilization".) We must then make them a small part of our diet. We must also cease to fear meat and fat. They are not causes of disease. To the contrary, they are the most nutritious foods we eat. We need meat. We needs fats. They should comprise half or more of the calories we eat. Thus are our bodies designed.

What then shall we eat? We will eat those foods for which the human body is designed. We will eat a Paleolithic diet. We will eat meat and the fat of meat. We will eat vegetables and fruits. We will eat fish. (Indeed we will not shun fatty fish. Fatty fish will be happily eaten.) We will eat nuts. (Will we eat dairy? I eat a bit. Research the matter yourself. Observe how your body handles dairy. Make your own decision.)

But we will eat little wheat. Or rice. Or potatoes. Or sugar of any kind. If a food is carbohydrate and little else, it will only seldom pass our lips. Our Paleolithic diet is thus naturally low in carbohydrates but is high in protein, fats, fiber and essential micronutrients.

Let me end with a request. Research the Paleolithic diet. Try it. Observe the results. I predict that they will be spectacular.

No comments:

Post a Comment