I’ve received hundreds of emails since Fat Head went on Netflix. A few have been hate mails (one from a doctor who called me an ignorant American for not pronouncing “bologna” as it’s pronounced in Italy, then went on to berate me in sentences full of misused words and incorrect punctuation), but the vast majority have included a “thank you” in one form or another. Here’s a typical example from today’s inbox:
Your documentary has completely changed the way I think about food. I’ve nearly totally cut carbs from my diet, and as a result, I have more energy! I also don’t get that icky, lethargic, must-lie-down feeling after eating. I’ve suffered from IBS for 15 years, and after changing my diet over the past few weeks (since watching Fat Head), I finally think I know what it’s like to feel “normal.” Damn Dr. Oz for telling us all to eat so many whole grains!
Reading those emails provides me with some pleasant pat-myself-on-the-back moments. But it’s emails like the one below that remind me why I feel compelled to keep spreading the message that much of what we’ve been told about nutrition and health is wrong:
I’ve been ovo-lacto vegetarian for nearly 20 years. In fact, I received a “Certification” in Natural Hygenic Nutrition through the “Life Science Institute” by paying tuition to Marilyn and Harvey Diamond (of Fit for Life) and by taking a nearly 2 year course. I later found out the “Certification” was worthless and could not get me a job anywhere in the nutrition field.
Later in life, while looking for a way to lose weight, I came across Susan Powter. She screamed to “Stop the insanity” and urged everyone to eliminate fat from their diet. I can even remember her decribing how you could eat “bowls and bowls” of pasta and lose weight. I wanted bowls and bowls of pasta. It was then that I began my journey into vegetarianism, lowfat eating, PCOS and a 100 pound weight gain.
Over the years I tried everything. Weight watchers was particularly bad. Everyone thought I was cheating and eating too many points. For me, since there were no limits on what it was as long as the points were low, I loaded up on the carbs and gained weight while on the diet.
One time I went 6 months straight as a raw vegan. I only ate raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Admittedly, I felt better than I’ve ever felt in my life. I lost 50 pounds. It was tremendously hard to maintain. Meals were complicated and the clean up of all the gadgets was very time consuming. Then my husband came home from Iraq and ordered a pizza and I officially lost my mind. I don’t think anything in the world has ever tasted better than that first bite (well, maybe the second).
What I’m getting at is that I’ve been vegetarian for so long and I’ve been singing this same old song. No one could convince me different. Here I am… this morbidly obese (BMI of 47) 40 year old vegetarian. My typical diet is usually fruits, vegetable and CARBS. When my Endocrinologist asked me what I ate for dinner the night before, I told him I’d put some watermelon, a cored apple, the juice of a lemon, some ice and a massive handful of spinach in the blender. I blended it and drank it. He was horrified. Anyone else would have said how amazing my diet was. I should look like a supermodel. But it was all carbs. He asked me to consider where was the protein or fat. I’ve spent so long thinking I knew it all that it was hard for me to accept that eating fruits and vegetables was wrong. I even argued with him in the office as he told me I have: Dysmetabolic Syndrome X, PCOS, Insulin Resistance, Hypothyroidism and possibly Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. It was no comfort to hear that it wasn’t my fault and that, if I did not take medication, I would continue to gain weight no matter what I do.
The full email was longer, but you get the idea. This woman ate what she believed was a wonderful diet — making sacrifices to follow the supposedly wonderful diet — and ended up obese and sick for her efforts. She also has a son who suffers from autism, ADHD, ODD, OCD and Tourette’s syndrome. She’s only recently learned this his problems are probably related to her PCOS and metabolic disorders. I’ve received similar horror stories from other viewers as well.
As I explained in Fat Head, some people live on diets they know are lousy. They eat whatever they like, and to hell with the consequences. That’s their choice, and it’s okay by me. But I feel terrible for people who actually try to take care of themselves, try to do the right thing, but end up with lousy health simply because they’ve been given so much bad advice.
I realized this morning that yesterday was my two-year anniversary as a blogger. Emails like the one above remind me why I won’t be stopping anytime soon, and why I’m grateful for fellow bloggers like Jimmy Moore, Mark Sisson, Richard Nikoley, Dr. Mike Eades, Stephen Guyenet, Don Matesz, Gary Taubes, and many others. We need to get the information out there to people who might learn something useful before the damage is done.