A Christmas Gift To Me … Letter From A Viewer

This is probably my last post of 2018, barring some pressing announcement. Consider it a little Christmas present to me from a reader. It’s another example of why the trolls and the haters (and the rogue Wikipedia editors who want to cleanse Fat Head from the historical record) just don’t matter to me. They never have.

Someone will leave a venomous one-star review of Fat Head on YouTube and, I suppose, think I’m going to be psychologically wounded. Hardly. I don’t read the reviews, negative or positive. (My daughter Sara sometimes reads the one-star reviews and laughs out loud.) When I receive an email from a hater, I laugh it off. I simply don’t care … because of emails like this one:

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Hi Mr. Naughton,

Several years ago I encountered Fat Head the Movie and watched it, thinking I would get an amusing counterpunch to the silly “Supersize Me” documentary. I got that, thanks to you.

But then there came a scene that takes place inside the human body–the scene where you explain the actual mechanics responsible for fat storage. That scene changed my perspective forever.

Your documentary sent me on a journey to read some of the books you recommended, after which point I finally discovered a diet I could stick to. I enjoy the diet with minimal pain, but with a profoundly healthy effect on my waistline. That’s also thanks to you.

I recently sat down to watch your speech Diet, Health, and the Wisdom of Crowds on YouTube and it hit me: if it wasn’t for you taking the time to explain how insulin works–a scene that opened my eyes to a completely new universe in which weight loss was possible–I would probably still be struggling to eat low-calorie, low-fat, and hitting my head against a wall.

So I had to send you an email and tell you: I’m currently in the best shape of my life. I’m not counting calories, but I am clipping new notches in my belt. And I can trace my newfound fitness back to that moment in your documentary, and not a moment after it or a moment before it. You’re the one who opened my eyes to the truth about fat and carbohydrates that changed the possibilities for me forever.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Dan

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Thank you, Dan. When I began working on Fat Head, I also expected it to be an amusing counter-punch to Super Size Me, and not much more. But the film kept evolving as I began to understand just how screwy the standard dietary advice is. I thought that advice deserved a counter-punch as well. I hoped people would be amused and learn a few things. I never expected to receive emails like yours, but they’ve been showing up since 2009. And every one of them is a gift.

So thank you – all of you. Happy holidays to you and yours, and have a fabulous 2019. I’ll see you in January.

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26 thoughts on “A Christmas Gift To Me … Letter From A Viewer

  1. Mitzi

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and the family. My grandkids are getting their very own copy of Fat Head Kids, the movie to go along the books they revived last year.

    Reply
  2. Tom

    Tom,

    Your Movie opened up my eyes as well. I was so entrenched in eating processed egg whites , cereals, whole grains etc. and I cannot tell you how much I love the taste of real eggs with butter. Food is so much better when you eat the real food instead of the manufactured type. Also, your movie made me laugh, I really liked the street interviews when you asked people if they had had a heart attack after eating Fettucine Alfredo. Being a Californian I also can appreciate you leaving this state way before it’s cultural decline hit high speed.

    Tom Page

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Thanks, Tom. I was entrenched in the low-fat nonsense as well. What a huge relief to find out being healthy doesn’t have to mean living on tasteless food.

      Reply
      1. Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

        I was advised by my doctor — a great guy, actually — to go on a low-fat diet, in the late 1980s, because I had high blood cholesterol . He was simply following what had become the standard of practice by then. In the early 2000s I became aware of Atkins and all the rest, and started eating low-carb, high-fat. Then I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and so I got stricter! Anecdotes are not proof of anything, but . . . I suspect that the cancer developed because of heightened insulin from the carbs that necessarily replaced fat when I reduced it.

        I declined surgery and radiotherapy and took up watchful waiting, and got strict on low carb. (I normally stay below 20 grams per day) .The doctors did not tell me to do that watchful waiting was reasonable, I had to find myself in the New England Journal of Medicine, and even quite good doctors wouldn’t mention these alternatives unless I asked. Good doctors would then tell me the full story. Otherwise, they could be sued if what they say is not “standard of practice.”

        In more than ten years, the cancer has not grown. It has become extremely unlikely that I will die from prostate cancer. It never was all that much of a risk, in fact. It is possible that most men my age (74) will have this cancer to the level I have it (but small and not becoming dangerous for enough years that …. we will die from something else). I will continue to watch, carefully. But not fearfully.

        There is no good substitute for becoming informed. Find good doctors who will be honest about what they know, how they know it, and what they don’t know. Check out what they tell you. Doctors have lied to me on occasion, but they were lies that could not normally result in a lawsuit. I don’t recommend believing everything you read on the internet, either, and not even books by “reputable authors.” Be careful, even good people can make mistakes.

        I advise, in everything, taking responsibility for one’s own choices. There is no perfect knowledge, but if we become informed, we are far more likely to make good choices. We will consider advice from experts, but, in the end, the buck stops here.

        Yes, “tasteless food.” One of the first things I discovered about Atkins was that I could actually eat the foods that I truly loved, and I’ve learned how to do this even better. Enjoying food is a health necessity. If we do not enjoy a food plan, we will drop it eventually.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          A lot of us have learned that we need to educate ourselves on subject like nutrition and health. It’s just not a subject most doctors know much about.

          Reply
        2. Elenor

          “Find good doctors who will be honest about what they know, how they know it, and what they don’t know. ”

          HA! That can be harder than staving off death from prostate cancer by going seriously low carb! Even when you find a doc who is ‘good’ on one aspect of health; s/he may be an ill-informed / uneducated ‘source’ of ‘info on another aspect!

          When advising folks on what-all I’ve learned about thyroid and adrenal; I usually suggest that unless ‘your family doc’ (or a *close* family member to your doc) has had actual PERSONAL experience with thyroid and adrenal problems (and discovered the medical field is pretty much hopeless and unhelpful); then that doc will almost assuredly know only the med school idiocy! ( {shrug} I’ve also learned I have to let go and let the person do — or not do — something that could help them, but it hurts!)

          My dear bro-in-law, inadequately treated for thyroid (with “Synthcrap”), was uninterested in what I was telling him (yeah-okay-so, he had not asked: “my doctor is handling it.” ARGH!) Half a year later, he still doing his “suddenly wide awake every morning at 3″ (and dammnit! that’s an ACTUAL medical diagnosis clue for adrenal fatigue!! You know, adrenals, which RELY on the thyroid!), which awakening he dealt with by taking a dark-of-the-night BIKE RIDE — in LOS ANGELES!!! Got hit by a damned drunk, suffered frontal lobe damage (helmet kept him from being killed so that’s something), and my sister now says, wistfully, ‘it’s not the guy she married.” (He’s WAY recovered from the brain injury; maybe 80-85%…. but it’s not enough. It’s still NOT him… and I put at least part of it on his DOCTOR, and part of it on his own (^&*@#&*) refusal to educate himself, and most of it on the broken food, medical, health ‘establishment’ of today.

          Reply
        3. Tom

          My dog got cancer when he was still a young 13 (my dogs and cats live forever because I don’t feed them bags of carbohydrates). Vet said he had a week for us to say goodbye.

          After a day or two of research, I learned that cancer cells feed on excess blood sugar quite a bit more quickly than our normal cells and our body’s ability to store that excess sugar because cancer cells have more insulin receptors. There was a clear connection between cancer, high blood sugar and high insulin levels.

          https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/sugar-and-cancer/

          So I developed a home cooked food for him that was fully nutritious for a dog but would keep his blood sugar curve fairly flat and had anything even remotely correlated with cancer fighting in it. It was cheap and easy to make in bulk and freeze.

          The cancer did finally take him. Almost a year later. He enjoyed 98% of that year immensely because we got a new puppy and he took the little guy under his wing. They really loved each other.

          Reply
          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            I wish I’d understood this stuff as a kid …. well, for a lot of reasons, but one of them being that we had a lovely dog who died of stomach cancer. I’m sure we were feeding her dry dog food full of grains.

            Reply
            1. Walter

              ” I’m we were feeding her dry dog food full of grains.”

              I think you have left out a word. I think either “afraid” or “sure” perchance.

            2. Tom

              Using the “what did people eat for 10,000 years” analogy from your movie, dogs, even after becoming human companions, ate what they could find and catch. Usually rodents, rabbits, reptiles, squirrels and the like. We have coyote in our neighborhood and I’ve seen one in the day time walk into a stream loaded with crawfish and chow down on them. What they weren’t doing was grazing in wheat or corn fields.

              They ate stem to stern, their “vegetable intake” is whatever was in the digestive tract of their capture. They also ate a lot of fur and feathers, aka insoluble fiber 😉

              Commercial dog foods were developed by major food processors as a way to get rid of what people don’t eat. Not all of this is necessarily bad as long as its not vats of innards that sit around long enough to have to be treated with something like ammonia to make it safe to eat. But many “byproducts” that people work to avoid in pet foods are handled in so much bulk so quickly these days that they may actually be a beneficial ingredient.

              Of course the dog food industries love to jam the food full of cheap grains, even some of the supposedly “better” brands. Lots of tricks are employed. “Real lamb is our #1 ingredient!”. Except its fresh lamb by weight making it #1 and it has to be dried and ground into a meal during manufacture, at which time by weight it probably drops to #3 or #4. “No grains!” often means they used potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas instead, and those might not be any better than wheat or rice. Ingredient splitting is also a cool trick. A food may contain rice, rice middlings, rice bran, “brewers rice” which is rice waste product often used to make cheap beer. Its all still rice but by breaking it down into multiple components, they sink on the ingredient list. Added together, you’re basically buying a bag of rice. I’m okay with chickpeas and lentils, they’re lower glycemic and take longer to digest and have lots of fiber and protein. If you see a food with lots of proteins at the top, chickpeas and/or lentils, an absence of 3-5 forms of rice…you’re probably on track.

              Kirkland signature organic dry and their canned foods are good and reasonably priced if you live near a costco. “I and Love and You” foods are also very good and available from amazon. Some of Trader Joe’s canned foods are good and cheap, one contains rice though and they use soy in it, which doesn’t bug me too much. Amazon’s WAG brand also is decent and a good deal.

              My recipe was warehouse club size boneless skinless chicken thighs, a big box of baby kale, a can of pumpkin puree, eggs including a couple of shells pulverized into powder for calcium, turmeric, beef derived gelatin, a pound of chickpeas soaked overnight and drained, any organ meats I could find (my local asian market sells pretty much a full range of innards like liver, kidney, tripe). Plenty of protein, a good measure of fats similar to the lean critters they’d normally eat, a good balance of vitamins and minerals. And for cancer, low blood sugar spikes, lots of vitamin A, C and K, turmeric thats alleged to reduce inflammation, and lots of antioxidants. Cook until the chicken is done (about 20-30 minutes) and use an immersion blender in the pot to get a chunky consistency. Once it cools, the gelatin gives it a consistency similar to canned dog food at price lower than cheap grain filled dog food.

              Sorry for taking the original post so far afield, but works for people also works for our pets. Unless you see your cat drag in a carrot from outside to nibble on!

            3. Tom Naughton Post author

              Our rotties live on mostly raw meat (beef and chicken), sometimes with liver, an egg, or a small sweet potato added to the bowl. They also steal the cat’s food if we forget to close the gate that keeps them away from his dish.

  3. Tom

    I’ll also extend my thanks. The animated scene mentioned is something I often show my suspicious friends who wouldn’t watch the whole movie has been a profound opinion changer. Even with the evidence of serious weight loss and scientific blood test result improvements I obtained, I still get a lot of “everyone is different”. Except we really aren’t.

    Another eye opener for my friends who think they’re eating healthy is to show the glycemic index of whole groats, steel cut, “old fashioned” steamed/rolled and instant oatmeal. The former two are in the low 50’s. IIRC white table sugar is 67 and the processed oatmeals are in the 70’s.

    “You’re eating something worse than white sugar for breakfast”.

    One of my key learnings from researching diets is the form factor of the food is as important as the nutritional content. Nutrient dense foods that take time to digest and release their energy are preferable to foods that have been processed to the point where digestion happens quite rapidly.

    Most diets and dieticians treat our digestive system as a furnace. Until I ask them what the difference in results are in putting a particular unit of energy in the form of shredded wood vs the same unit of energy in solid wood.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I didn’t really emphasize the difference between whole foods vs. processed foods in the original Fat Head. We definitely emphasize the difference in Fat Head Kids.

      Reply
      1. Tom

        I got that from the part where you drank the smoothie and it gave you tons of energy for a short while followed by a crash. An example of breaking down a bunch of foods into a liquid form easily absorbed where your blood sugar went through the roof until the insulin response smacked it down.

        In other words, the form factor of your food (whole foods vs everything turned to liquid) has a profound effect on your blood sugar curve and insulin response due to the speed of digestion/absorption. You may not have picked on this as much in the movie. I wonder also how your digestive system handles the shotgun blast of nutrients from processed foods vs a longer, more natural breakdown. Since a lot of excess non storable vitamins are pretty quickly eliminated, I’d imagine they have to work a lot harder.

        BTW speaking of kids books, I showed my son your movie when he was pretty young, probably 7ish. And he got to watch his fat dad turn into a thin one to reinforce it. He’s a very adventurous eater. Comes home from school and proudly tells me that he got his turkey sandwich, ate the turkey, cheese and vegetables in it and tossed the bread and “low fat mayo” and filled a plate with salad from the salad bar. He carried little tiny bottles I got off of amazon that I filled with avocado oil and lemon juice to use as a dressing and sold the cookies/brownies or whatever other desert they put on his plate to the other kids.

        Reply
          1. Tom

            Also fun to post him doing his homework with his favorite afternoon snack. A can of tiny tots sardines or a can of octopus chunks and a sliced avocado with lemon squeezed over it and a pinch of salt.

            Reply
    2. Orvan Taurus

      Sounds like someone (not you) is likely saying “You need fiber” and at the very same time saying that “fiber doesn’t matter.” Or something on that order. I am willing to believe one. Or even to believe the other. But I cannot bring myself to believe both simultaneously. And I ponder the great difference between a few decent sized logs, smaller kindling, and wood dust… which I do NOT recommend as a fuel unless you have a lot of room, no close neighbors, and good cover from the dust-explosion.

      Reply
  4. Pancake Fury

    Well, i have something to thank you for as well. Since i watched Fat Head i increased my consumption of animal fats, which i previously avoided, and enjoyed drastic improvement in my mental health as a result. I stopped wanting to kill myself every other day and generally felt much better.

    Reply
  5. chris c

    I’m afraid you came too late for me, I had already been perverted by Michael Eades and Richard Bernstein who have both been around forever.

    When Bernstein finally dies in his nineties or beyond, who will be the first to state that it was his low carb diet that killed him?

    Season’s Greetings. I enjoyed my Christmas pheasant wrapped in bacon and served with Brussels sprouts so much that I have a second one for New Year. That’s the way to do it. My gran (1885 – 1975) would have approved.

    Reply

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