USDA Report: We Eat Less Fat, But Fat Is Killing Us

A new report from the USDA says Americans are eating less fat than we did 30 years ago.  Here’s the opening from an online article about the report:

On average, Americans are eating 10g less fat per day today than they were in the late 1970s, according to new research.  In a report comparing food consumption patterns in 1977-78 versus 2005-2008, Biing-Hwan Lin and Joanne Guthrie from USDA’s Economic Research Service found that on average, Americans consumed 75.2g of fat in 2005-08 compared with 85.6g in 1977-78.

Meanwhile, the percentage of total calories derived from fat also declined substantially from 39.7% to 33.4% between 1977 and 2008, said the authors.

Hallelujah!  Now that USDA itself is admitting we’re eating less fat, surely they’ll finally also admit that the rise we’ve seen in obesity and metabolic syndrome in the past 30 years can’t be blamed on fat.  I can just hear the press conference where they announce they’re allowing whole milk back in schools …

However, with more Americans eating out than ever before, a growing proportion of the fat that they do consume is the unhealthy, saturated, variety, said the authors, noting that almost a third (31.6%) of calories were from foods consumed outside the home in 2005-8 compared with just 17.7% in the late 1970s.

“Food consumed away from home is higher in saturated fat than foods consumed at home [in the 2005-8 data set].  The higher percent of calories from saturated fat in fast-foods was especially noteworthy at 13.5%, compared with 11.9% in restaurant foods, 12.3% in school foods, and 10.7% in foods consumed at home.”

Similarly, foods consumed away from home in 2005-8 contained significantly more sodium (1,820mg of sodium per 1,000 calories), than foods consumed at home (1,369mg sodium per 1,000 calories); with foods from restaurants and fast-food outlets particularly sodium-dense at 2,151mg and 1,864mg of sodium per 1,000 calories, respectively.

Head.  Bang.  On.  Desk.

Faced with their own evidence that fat didn’t commit the crime, the USDA researchers nonetheless rounded up the usual suspects:  Saturated Fat and his evil sidekick Sodium.  I wondered if perhaps the news story missed the point of the USDA report, so I looked it up online.

Nope, the report is full of hand-wringing about how much more often Americans these days eat in restaurants, where (egads!) the meals are higher in saturated fat.  Here are some pieces of the report:

Food prepared away from home (FAFH)—whether from table-service restaurants, fast-food establishments and other locations, or from a take-out or delivery meal eaten at home—is now a routine part of the diets of most Americans. Previous Economic Research Service (ERS) research found that FAFH tends to be lower in nutritional quality than food prepared at home (FAH), increases caloric intake, and reduces diet quality among adults and children. This study updates previous research by examining dietary guidance and the nutritional quality of FAH versus FAFH in 2005-08, compared with 1977-78.

Poor diets contribute to obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other health conditions that impose substantial economic burden on Americans (USDA/USDHHS, 2011; USDHHS, 2010). The medical costs associated with overweight and obesity have been estimated as high as $147 billion, or 10 percent of all medical costs in 2008 (Finkelstein et al., 2009; O’Grady and Capretta, 2012; Tsai et al., 2011). These enormous costs are one reason that USDA and other public and private entities place a high priority on improving Americans’ diets.

Well, we’re all grateful beyond belief that the USDA is dedicated to improving our diets and putting the country on sound financial footing as a result.  So what’s the “poor diet” that’s contributing to all those problems?

As the share of food expenditures spent on FAFH has risen over the past 30 years, so has the share of calories and nutrients consumed from such food. Previous ERS research found that FAFH in the 1990s contained less of the food components Americans underconsume, such as calcium and dietary fiber, and more of those overconsumed, such as fat, compared with FAH.

So there’s the problem:  we eat out more than we did 30 years ago, and restaurant food is higher in saturated fat (and sodium, as the researchers note several times in the report).  Case closed.

Except we somehow manage to consume less fat than we did 30 years ago, despite a higher calorie intake.  Are we actually eating a lot more saturated fat than our grandparents did, despite eating less fat overall?  How can that be?

If you suspect the USDA decided to toss around some accusatory percentages in order to frame their favorite suspect, you’d be right. I can almost imagine the conversation in the hallowed halls of USDA research:

“Did you finish crunching the numbers, Jenkins?”

“Yes, sir.  Good news:  people are eating less fat than they did in 1978.”

“Whew!  For a minute there, I thought you were going to say people are eating less fat.”

“I did say that, sir.  But rates of obesity and diabetes are clearly–”

“Great.  There you have it, then.  We should continue telling people to cut back on fat.”

“But sir, they have cut back on fat, almost to the level we’ve been recommending.”

@#$%!! Okay, here’s what you do, Jenkins.  Figure out how much more saturated fat is in restaurant food.  Then let’s roll those figures together with the data on how much more often people eat in restaurants these days.  Use percentages, because that makes the numbers look bigger.”

“One step ahead of you, sir.  I already crunched those numbers, and in terms of total saturated fat intake, the difference is only—”

“Jenkins, I don’t think you understand what I’m saying, so let me explain it this way:  shut up.”

The report mentions using surveys for collecting data, so the numbers are suspect.  But the USDA based a study on the data and reached conclusions about what’s causing our health issues, so let’s go along for the ride.

According to the report, we consumed an average of 1,875 calories per day in 1978 and 2,002 calories per day in 2008.  I thought those figures sounded ridiculously low until I realized the data is for Americans ages 2 and up.  I don’t know how many calories my daughters consume in a day, but it’s nowhere close to 2,000.  Kids obviously bring down the averages.

Now, let’s suppose we heed the USDA’s warnings about the higher saturated-fat content in restaurant meals and decide we shouldn’t be consuming 31.6% of our total calories in restaurants.  Let’s go back to consuming just 17.7% percent of our calories in restaurants, like in the good ol’ days of 1978.  (You may dig out your leisure suit and pull up KC and the Sunshine Band in iTunes if it helps you get in the mood.)

The report tells us that meals at home average 10.7% saturated fat by calories, restaurant meals average 11.9% saturated fat by calories, and fast-food meals average 13.5% saturated fat by calories.  Well, heck, just to tip the scales in favor of the USDA’s argument, I’m going to assume all restaurant meals are fast-food meals.  So using the 2008 average of 2,002 calories per day, here’s how our saturated-fat intake is affected by consuming 31.6% of our calories in restaurants instead of 17.7%  — I’ll listen to Sara’s math teacher and show my work:

31.6% calories consumed in restaurants:

Restaurant: (2,002 calories) x (13.5% sat-fat) x (31.6%) = 85.4
Home: (2,002 calories) x (10.7% sat-fat) x (68.4%) = 146.5

Add our home and restaurant meals together, and we’re averaging 231.9 calories per day from saturated fat.  I’ll do the USDA a favor and round up to 232 calories.  Now let’s heed the USDA’s advice.

17.7% calories consumed in restaurants:

Restaurant: (2,002 calories) x (13.5% sat-fat) x (17.7%) = 47.8
Home: (2,002 calories) x (10.7% sat-fat) x (82.3%) = 176.3

Add them together, we get an average of 224.1 calories per day from saturated fat.  I’ll do the USDA a favor and round down to 224 calories.

So here’s what we’re looking at if we do the math the USDA either didn’t do or chose not to share, opting instead for big, scary-sounding percentages so they could continue placing the blame on saturated fat:

Based on their own data, the difference between consuming 31.6% vs. 17.7% of our meals in fast-food joints works out to (hold your breath!) … 8 calories of saturated fat per day. Or you could calculate it as 25.8 grams per day vs.  24.9 grams per day.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll forget that we consume less fat now than in 1978 and run the numbers assuming we reduced both our total calorie intake and the percentage of calories consumed in restaurants to 1978 levels:

Restaurant: (1,875 calories) x (13.5% sat-fat) x (17.7%) = 44.8
Home: (1,875 calories) x (10.7% sat-fat) x (82.3%) = 165.1

The combined daily average is 209.9 calories from saturated fat.  Let’s call it 210.  So if we reduced our calorie consumption and percent of calories consumed in restaurants to 1978 levels, we’d be talking about 23.3 grams per day of saturated fat instead of 25.8 — a difference of 2.5 grams per day.  And to repeat, I ran those numbers assuming all restaurant meals are fast-food meals — which they aren’t.

Yup, I’d say the USDA has found the cause of all of our health problems.  We eat out more often, and we’re clearly loading up saturated fat as a result.

By the way, the term saturated fat appeared in the report 19 times.  The word sugar appeared once.  Thank goodness they’re focusing their efforts on the real culprit.


52 thoughts on “USDA Report: We Eat Less Fat, But Fat Is Killing Us

  1. Jill

    Today I read a study in the Journal of Physiology about pregnant mice on a high fat diet. The conclusion said there was a negative effect on fetal genes. Looking closely at the diet, the control diet had 102 grams of sucrose. The high fat diet had 172.8 grams of sucrose. I sent an email to one of the researchers asking why the high fat diet had more sucrose. No reply yet. The fat was blamed, of course.

    Yup, they pull that trick all the time. Or they feed mice a “high-fat” diet of Crisco and corn oil, then decide they can apply the results to humans eating burgers and bacon.

  2. Jo

    The government data here in NZ says that we are eating less saturated fat and fewer calories than 10 years ago but we are 12% heavier. The conclusion. We’ve all got lazy! Yep, science at work.

    Okay, that’s actually funny … I mean, in a pathetic sort of way.

  3. Jesrad

    Here in France we went down from 40% fat calories in 2000 to 37% in 2012, meanwhile obesity, diabetes and hypertension progressed at the same rate as before (except diabetes which actually accelerated). Saturated fat content has got lower too, but I don’t have the precise number. We’re eating more starch and more fruits, too, and exercizing just as much.

    ARGH! Tell your fellow citizens to keep eating all that fat! We need the French Paradox to stay alive.

  4. Beowulf

    I think part of the problem is that many people (government officials and scientists among them) are so conditioned at this point to believe certain “truths” about obesity that they’re blind to everything else. Thankfully the world of the internet is starting to change that, at least for people who’s job isn’t dependent on believing the government dogma.

    Indeed. I like the cover of Uffe Ravnskov’s most recent book — a picture of a scientist wearing blinders.

  5. Nathan

    I go crazy on the fat and salt. Last time I had my blood checked, my triglycerides, sodium, and blood pressure were all deep in the healthy zone. I must be a witch!

    You must be an outlier … just like millions of other outliers.

  6. Janknitz

    In the 70’s fast food fries were fried in tallow, restaurants cooked with real butter, cream, and didn’t trim meat. In 2006, fries were made in vegetable oil and other restaurant cooking is done with “heart healthy” (and dirt cheap) oils–not saturated fats. Try getting real butter at most chain restaurants–you get some sort of “healthy” spread. Low fat entrees abound. So how exactly do we get more SATURATED fat eating out?? We get more PUFAS instead.

    Yup, I’m sure we’re eating less saturated fat now, not more.

  7. Phyllis Mueller

    Head. Bang. On. Desk. Indeed! Let us also not forget that McDonald’s (and perhaps other chain restaurants) used beef tallow in their fryers in 1978, not trans-fat and PUFA-laden “vegetable” oils. So the “more saturated fat” claims seem even more tenuous and contrived.

    Since I’m allergic to soy, I’m always questioning wait staff in restaurants about what the food is cooked in or with, and what’s in the salad dressings. Most often it’s soy oil or a “vegetable oil blend” (some bottles say “olive oil blend”) that contains soy. Most restaurants, even traditional-style ethnic restaurants, are NOT preparing food with (saturated) butter or ghee or coconut oil or lard, and NOT with olive oil, either. Most commercial mayonnaise is also soy-oil based.

    And, of course, many home cooks have been brainwashed into using “neutral-flavored vegetable oil” as well. So sad.

    I haven’t been eating salads because of the soybean-oil dressings. So I finally got motivated to make the bleu cheese dressing recipe from “The Art and Science of Low-Carb Peformance.” Very tasty, made with olive oil and full-fat yogurt.

  8. CathyN

    Oh, well done (as always).

    Just before reading the above, I was re-reading “In the Face of Contradictory Evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee” article by Hite et al. This is a very thoughtful analysis with lots of cited studies that asks important questions about the recommendations. But so far the DGAC will hang on to it’s very bad dietary advice no matter what. I guess they have the power (not brainpower, it seems) to control the message.

    I just completed studies to become a certified personal trainer, and was disgusted at the control the DGAC has over the food recommendations. Personal trainers cannot recommend anything that is not within the USDA guidelines except vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. One can’t even recommend a book that gives a different message. So they really do control the message in many ways.

    Thank you for your thoughtful, sharp (and humorous – love the humor) articles and information. Good stuff!

    The article you referenced gives the USDA the spanking it so richly deserves. My friend Dr. Feinman was an author on that one too.

  9. Exceptionally Brash

    Great work here! It looks like the USDA is continuing to practice insanity by recommending even more of what hasn’t been working. Similar to the argument in favor of tightening cholesterol rules, based on the evidence that cholesterol numbers don’t seem that much related to heart disease events.
    At least one good thing there, and that is, a report from the experts that doesn’t blame Woo for everything.

    I say we only blame Woo for the troubles in Greece.

  10. Pierce

    Do they lack actual data on the amount of saturated fat consumed, forcing them to “extrapolate” from the restaurant data? Or do they have that data and ignore them in favor of the restaurant data because the actual numbers undermine their point?

    I think it’s the latter.

  11. Phil J

    Love it, I’m doing exactly the same thing, bring me my sea salt grinder! I love extreme stories that give results exactly the opposite of what the USDA says should happen. Mark Daily Apple has a success story from a mixed martial arts fighter that switched to the primal blueprint lifestyle and it cleared up his congestion and a host of other problems he was dealing with. The funny thing is that he had to get around 5k calories to keep his body mass up for fights so he would eat a stick of butter and a couple of pounds of hamburger regularly. Strangely enough he is in better condition than he was before when he ate the recommended way for someone in his line of work (of course we all knew that was gonna happen).

  12. Tuck

    “The USDA assumes we are stupid and can be bamboozled with irrelevant numbers and percentages.”

    Judging from these numbers, the USDA is right. Most of us are diligently doing what we’re told, regardless of how it’s working out. I’m eating less fat and I’m getting fatter? Need to eat even less fat!

  13. Linda R

    Full fat yogurt? Seriously? Where on earth do you find it?
    I would love to get my hands on some but have had no luck here in Iowa…..

    Chareva finds it at Kroger and Harris Teeter around these parts. The brand is Greek Gods. She tells me she’s also found it at Wal-Mart, but it’s not with the other yogurts. Go figure.

  14. S. Andrei Ostric

    I always thought the deal with low-fat yogurt was that they skimmed the cream to make ice cream. That’s what I think is happening. Anyway, fat is a complex substance, especially saturated fat. There are so many kinds. Short chain fatty acids are so different than long chain fatty acids, so it’s kind of calling a little terrier a Hippo. Yes, they are saturated, but it’s not simply one thing. Sugar is way more homogeneous a substance, glucose and fructose. Bam. You are done. It just amazes me how upside-down things are sometimes.

    The USDA simplifies the issue by demonizing all the saturated fats.

  15. Mirva

    I just had a patient who was very sick with DM2. He got his ½ portion evening insulin (before operation), that was 52 units. He is very fat 174cm/140kg. He told me that he (and wife) follows strick DM-diet with lots of ryebread and potatoes etc (you know) and allmost no fat at all. Poor guy, he has no future as so many like him. The worst part is that I can not tell these people that there is an other way to treat DM2. I just feel sad……and authorities only say eat more sugar….

    Thanks again for good work you do.

    Thank you for reading.

  16. Lobstah

    And speaking of all this, today I had my annual physical.
    My numbers are:
    Glucose: 100mg/dl, rated as high, acceptable range is 77-99
    Sodium: 138 mmol/L, acceptable is 135-145

    And for Cholesterol:
    CFR was 206, up slightly from 197 a year ago, also rated as high, acceptable is <200
    Triglycerice-CFR was 94
    HDL was 40
    Non-HDL was 166
    LDL was 147
    VLDL was 19
    and my HDL Ratio was 5.2, also high, as acceptable is <5.0

    The discussion with the doctor went like this:

    Doc: "Your cholesterol isn't TOO bad, you seem to be doing a good job of managing it, but we need to keep an eye on it, because if it gets up to 220, we'll need to start treatemant with statins.

    Me: I won't take them, because I'm not worried about my cholesterol level.

    Doc: There was a very detailed study done right here in Framingham that assigns 'risk factors' to people. That's what we base our treatment on.

    Me: Oh…is that the study that was done in the late 80's?

    Doc: Ummm…errr…yes, I think probably…(surprised look due to me being aware of the study)

    Me: That was the same study that after 11yrs, they abandoned, because they couldn't find an actual link between cholesterol and heart disease?

    Doc: Well…ummmm…I don't think THAT was actually the case…ummmmm…(clearly shocked that anyone had any knowledge of any of the medical studies) A lot of really good data came from that study!

    Me: Such as what?

    Doc: (Clearly getting a bit frustrated now…) We could talk about this all day, but the bott….

    Me: I think we probably should talk about it all day, because the dogma just isn't backed up by any science I can find anywhere, and if you HAVE actual science to back up any of the claims, I'd really like to read about it.

    And so on and so on…

    Then, while talking about calcium heart scans, he refreneces his "mentor", and says: "And if you were dealing with HIM, statins would be NON-negotionable!"

    Me: Sorry, but anything I'm putting in my body?…is ABSOLUTELY 'negotiable'

    🙂 🙂

    Now that I have some relevant numbers, I will go back and re-read Don’t Die Early and some of the other literature I’ve read over the past year.

    Btw…there was one quick mention of the fact that I’d lost 40lbs, he said I’d done a good job, then it was off to the DOGma track 😉


    Statins are non-negotiable? In that case, I’d be leaving and it wouldn’t be negotiable.

  17. Kathy

    @ Linda R

    Fage greek yogurt is available in full fat, but I have to buy it at Whole Foods, which has a better price than most of our “regular” grocery stores. Everyone else around here (Texas) sells the non-fat and 2%. I also buy Stonyfield Farm full fat for my husband. He hasn’t developed a taste for plain, so he gets vanilla full fat from Stonyfield.

  18. DJ

    I was able to find Astro Greek yogurt where I am… 11% fat. However, the disturbing trend I see now is that it’s mostly the same brand on the shelf… but a “fat free” version. *Sigh*

    Another grocery store 1.5 hours away from me does have their own brand of Greek yogurt (President’s Choice) that has 9% fat. The thing that really surprise me though was the lack of usual ingredients you get in so many other yogurts. I was quite impressed and will probably get that brand whenever I can.

    The yogurt Chareva buys is 130 calories for a half-cup, with 11 g fat, 5 g carbohydrate and 4 g protein. It worked quite well in the dressing.

  19. emi11n

    Linda R: You might check any natural/health food stores in your area. I found several interesting new brands at a small local store. You can also buy some yogurt culture and make your own! I plan to try that soon.

  20. Ulfric M Douglas

    What if the truth NEVER SINKS IN?
    What if all the official advice stays “low fat” forever : does our preferred eating become illegal bit by bit?
    And why do they keep replacing the word “salt” with “sodium”?


    Bit by bit is how the statists take away freedom. They know trying to snap off large chunks of it tends to get the population riled.

  21. Tammy

    Tom – I hope you keep up with the commentary for a long time to come. It seems never ending but I do enjoy getting a good laugh every now and then. I couldn’t even make this stuff up if I wanted to. Thanks!

    We have to laugh for our own mental health.

  22. Firebird

    Tom, what section of Wal-Mart is Chareva finding full fat yogurt? Their yogurt section consists of Chobani, Stonybrook and Fage, all excellent brands, but they only sell the fat free versions.

    My local Shoprite carries full fat Fage and Cabot. I prefer the Fage but Cabot is an excellent alternative.

    She said it was in a different refrigerated section. Doesn’t makes sense, but that’s what she found.

  23. Elenor

    “We need the French Paradox to stay alive.”

    What a delightful (to stay French) “double entrendre.” Well done, smart as…. er…. wise fellow! {wink}

  24. Lauren Paparone

    Sugar is what is killing us – not fat. I eat a LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet – it is my lifestyle with wonderful results. Read The New Atkins Diet Book, The Art and Science of Low Carb Living, and Good Calories Bad Calories. The public has been getting mis-information for 40 years!

  25. Galina L.

    Why so many people have a problem with their yogurt? Just add some heavy whipping cream to a high quality Greek yogurt. I use the Land-of-the-lakes organic grass-fed cream for that. Probably it is even better than buying a full-fat yogurt.

  26. Marilyn

    But of course. People were a lot younger in 1978 than they are now. Everyone knows that for lots of people as they age, it’s “eat less, weigh more.”

    And don’t scoff at that 2.5/day difference in saturated fat intake. Every knows that those little numbers count. Over a year that would be 912.5 grams more saturated fat. I think I feel a heart attack coming on already. . . .

    I hope you survive.

  27. cTo

    I honestly would love to know where these restaurants are that are cooking everything with saturated fat. Literally every restaurant I go to prides itself by only cooking with hearthealthy canola, soybean, etc oils. Which, incidentally, are almost always rancid.

    Interesting sidenote, since going paleo, I’ve found that I can now taste rancidity very easily, whereas for most of my life I never knew what rancid oils tasted like at all, let alone pick it out of a cooked dish. The other day my boyfriend and I were at a fairly nice restaurant in SF that served a homemade mayo dip with its fries (that my boyfriend ordered). I tried some, and immediately spit it out, it tasted so chalky and rancid. But my boyfriend couldn’t even tell what I was talking about.

    I suspect the saturated fat is coming from the food itself: the burgers, cheeses, eggs, etc.

  28. Kim

    It’s clear the USDA is trying desperately to fit a round peg in a square hole. It’s as if they just CAN”T be wrong so they must keep pushing the same lie. Whatever happened to real science and research? What about approaching a problem with an open mind and attempt to find the TRUTH! Oh, that’s right. Big Agra is in bed with the USDA, hiding under their blanket of lies, snickering and snorting about all the $$ being made. Throw in Big Pharma and you’ve got an orgy. Thanks Tom for bring it into the light!

    Obviously it’s very difficult to turn the big ol’ ship.

  29. Galina L.

    There are also ethnic stores for people from the region where are Lebanon , Turkey Iran, which sell kefir cheese (Labne cheese) – full fat, slightly thicker than Greek yogurt . Sometimes it is too sour.

  30. Patti

    Ha! I wish most of the fat used in restaurants was saturated because then I wouldn’t mind eating it. It’s soybean oil in their salad dressing and their deep fryers that are the nasty culprits contributing to heart disease and obesity! Get rid of the Omega 6 fats and bring on the saturated! I wish McDonald’s would go back to frying in beef tallow!

  31. Linda R

    Thanks Tom and all others for the yogurt suggestions. I have never seen the Greek Gods brand at my local Wal-Mart store but I DO think I saw the container in the health food section of my local HyVee store, a chain that I think is only available in Iowa. I am going to check that out.

    And I would also like to see your dressing recipe. I began making all of my own salad dressings and mayo last summer, it was impossible to find a decent dressing made with olive oil. I am amazed at how delicious homemade mayo truly is! Sometimes I find myself eating it with a spoon, standing at the fridge! Yum!

  32. Walter B

    Why the low fat yogurt has so much junk is obvious, to counter the lack of fat and make a salable mess. Just like the school lunch nutritionist are saying they can’t get the right products to make their school lung pogrom work, they are going to need to add all sorts of non food substances to get kids to eat the resulting “meals”.

    Oh, yes and buy your olive oil from ethnic stores, they may know how to get and care to get real olive oil there is a lot of scamming in the olive oil business. Or I hear American olive oil is more likely to be olive oil than European.

    Yeah, I’ve read that a lot of “olive oil” in the world is olive oil mixed with canola oil.

  33. Lobstah

    My wife has kefir going on the kitchen counter. She makes a smoothy with it every morning, with some fresh/frozen berries. Very easy to care for. She strains the liquid from the living curds, replaces them in a clean mason jar, adds more whole milk, and she’s done.
    I was concerned about the carb content of kefir, as there are varying stories/opinions on the web regarding kefir carbs. Some say that the kefir feeds on the milk sugars, so the end result is low carb, but I’ve also read that during that process, the byproduct has as many carbs as the sugars did to begin with.
    Sooo…I asked her to make me some kefir using cream instead of milk. The results were fantastic. It produced a very thick, rich, creamy yogurt like consistency. I mixed in some fresh blackberries and a dash of Truvia, perfect breakfast.
    The only issue is that it’s so thick you can’t really strain it, which you need to do in order to preserve the process and give the cultures more “food”. What we tried instead is to save half of the jar, which is now a cream based culture, and add milk to it to help regen the cultures and hopefully make it a bit thinner.
    Will know if we were successful when she gets up.
    The whole kefir process is amazingly simple…and very inexpensive. She uses about a cup of milk a day, which produces her cup of kefir for her smoothies.

    Just get some kefir starter, and you’re in business.


    Sounds tasty.

  34. Catherine Reynolds

    Hi, Tom and all the other commentators! Here in the UK, for life insurance for my mortgage, I had to answer a massive long list of questions about my health. Bear in mind that the insurers still buy in to the low cholesterol rubbish. I was asked for my blood pressure (it’s normal), my cholesterol level (it’s below 4, which in the UK is considered very low), did I smoke (I never have), drink to excess (no). Then it asked for my height and weight. Now, I am no Posh Spice, and never want to be, and yes, I am about two stones (28lbs to you chaps) over my preferred weight. I am 5 ft 5 inches tall. Of course, they did the maths (we have an “s” on the end in the UK) and decided I was at enormous risk of heart disease, stroke, you name it, I was going to die young from it. It was only these last two things that really mattered to them – never smoking, not drinking excessively and having normal blood pressure and low cholesterol (even though you and I shout this down) didn’t count for anything, apparently, and they slapped a levy on my insurance premium. I protested, saying that the Body Mass Index method of deciding whether I was “at risk” was totally outdated, and can’t tell the difference between a hugely fat person and an Olympic-standard heavyweight boxer. Made no difference. Only my weight matters, it seems, when compared with my height. If I was 6ft 6, I’d be fine!!

    Tom – I loved your dissection of this latest nonsense – it’s no different in the UK, low-fat is still what they preach, despite the enormous mountain of evidence showing that it’s a pile of rancid vegetable fat.

    I think the BMI nonsense is more of a convenient excuse to charge you more.

  35. Waldo

    Sneaky aren’t they? Effective because most folks just read the headlines and think they can trust our government to protect us from ourselves. Good work Tom.

  36. Lori

    cTo, I know what you mean. A lot of restaurant food tastes off to me. If I get a craving for fries, I make my own with sweet potatoes and real grease; the ones from restaurants taste terrible and give me a stomach ache. And when I visited a friend last year, I could tell that a couple of cans of coconut milk had turned when nobody else could smell anything wrong.

  37. Craig

    So the same people who have spent decades telling us that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie are now implying that the nine calories in a gram of saturated fat are somehow more fattening than the nine calories in a gram of unsaturated fat?

    Their theory is apparently that we eat a set number of grams of food per day.

  38. Bret

    What else can we expect from the federal agency that raids peaceful farmers’ homes for the crime of providing competition to Big Ag in the form of sustainable farming?

    A few weeks ago Clark Howard (Atlanta-based financial radio talk show host) was saying that it is a criminal offense in some areas to keep chickens in your own backyard. Not a civil issue, but a criminal one. For using your own land to produce your own food.

    We have lost our minds.

    Well, that’s what happens when eat crappy diets.

  39. Kristin

    I very much enjoyed the article and all the comments. Everyone has expressed thoughts that were in my own mind. Chief among them concerned eating out. Saturated fat in restaurant food? I wish. I seldom eat out now because of all the rancid vegetable oils in everything. I finally ‘treated’ myself to a stir-fry I used to love before I went low-carb figuring I would just get it without the rice. It did taste a bit rancid and it made me sick later. I was disappointed but it was a good lesson. These days I tend to eat out rarely and when I do I spend the money to go to a high end place that does local sourcing and uses real fat.

    I’m amazed at the trouble folks are having finding full fat yogurt. I must be very fortunate in Portland, Oregon as I get a variety of great yogurts from Trader Joes, New Seasons, Whole Foods and a couple of local markets as well. I’ve seen Nancy’s, Strauss, Brown Cow, and Pavels; all excellent brands with varying amounts of sourness.

  40. labrat

    File this in the “this is what we’re up against file”. Talk about fat phobia. Check out this slide show.

    I was hungry and looking for a snack idea since I couldn’t decide what to eat and my aging salad didn’t appeal to me. (Ended up with dill pickles and cheddar cheese – they really are yummy together!) Compare above to the list I ultimately chose from.

    The entire list of “lo-carb” suggestions from the diabetes site is chock full of the low-fat, low salt mantra and the only thing you can possibly consider “lo-carb” about their suggestions is the portion size. Seriously? Bananas and chocolate? Mostly high carb fruits, whole grains and lo-fat dairy aren’t what any of us would put on our list of preferred snacks.

    Wow, not exactly what I’d call low-carb snacks.

  41. Jo

    Can I recommend to people struggling to find good yoghurt to try making their own? It’s very easy. I’m sure there are plenty of instructions on the internet. No need to get a special kit. Just a saucepan and thermos flask. You may wish to use a cooking thermometer too but it’s not necessary.

  42. Walter B

    Referring to Jo’s post about cutting the fat and eating more carbs and getting fat and the establishment blaming it on “becoming lazy”.

    Taubs has studies showing that high carb diets tend to make people fat, because too much insulin drives too much of the carbs into storage as fat and they must eat way too much to maintain proper body weight in order to have energy to work. Pima Indians etcetera.

  43. hausfrau

    I thought you all would be mildly amused to hear about my appointment with an ADA dietician for my diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Apparently diabetic people “need” to eat at least 60 grams of carbs per meal because that’s the only thing that gives them energy throughout the day. I especially need to eat lots of whole grain because that’s where we get our fiber and nutrients. Never mind that I told her I eat almost 2 quarts of salad green on a daily basis. I rather adamantly pointed out that I’ve been observing my blood sugar levels for a week now and bread routinely makes my blood sugar sky rocket (my weakness for cheese sandwiches) and she asked if I would consider eating pasta or rice instead. I think you would call that a face palm kind of moment.
    This appointment was purely a practice in meeting my physician half-way. I have no intention of indulging in a masochistic, ADA approved sugar binge. I did not bother to school her in the wonders of a ketogenic diet though I told her I normally follow one. Sometimes there’s just no point and its best to smile and nod. There is one interesting point that I’ve found since looking into gestational diabetes. Apparently it is true that unborn people prefer to consume glucose and this is why hormones from the placenta inhibit insulin production in the mother (i’m not totally sure if moms produce less insulin or if they are more insulin resistant). But to me this appears to be a natural adaptation to a diet that is moderate to low in carbs as it insures that glucose is made available to baby first before mom can lock it away in her cells. The RN at the endocrine clinic claims that ketones are harmful for a baby but I’m wondering how true that is given the advice they give regular diabetics. Anyway, its an interesting topic. I imagine that when moms can’t control their blood sugar they immediately reach for the prescription pad without ever reconsidering the 60 grams of carbs per meal. I highly doubt babies are unaffected by the medication.

    It would certainly be news to Dr. Michael Fox (a reproductive endocrinologist who gave a speech on the low-carb cruise two years ago) that growing babies need their moms to eat a lot of carbs. When he started putting pregnant women on high-fat, lower-carb diets, they had far fewer problems with their pregnancies.

    All you can do is smile and nod and then ignore them, as you suggested.


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