The “Big Meal” news story that ran on ABC was, as Dr. Mike Eades explained quite thoroughly, a load of bologna passing for health and nutrition advice. I’d like to say that’s a rare occurrence. I’d also like to say I’m 30 years old, with 10% body fat, a full head of hair, and enough money in the bank to conduct a hostile takeover of Microsoft … but I’d be lying. Bad nutrition advice is everywhere.
I bookmark a lot of health and nutrition articles I find online, figuring I may write about them later. After the “Big Meal” story, I decided to go through them and pick out a few, separating them into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I like ending on a positive note, so we’ll save the Good for last.
Surprising Good-For-You Foods! Well, I’m pretty sure you can guess what their definition of “good for you” is. Here are some choice quotes:
Cream-Style Corn: There was cream in your grandma’s recipe, but the liquid in today’s cans is actually a component of the corn kernels themselves and other ingredients such as starch. If you look at calories and fat, canned cream-style and whole-kernel corn are identical.
Ahhh, that explains why the obesity epidemic that ravaged the country in the 1950s is just a bad memory now. Silly ol’ Granny cooked with cream. (Can’t you just hear her yelling, “Jed! Go milk one of the cows so I can put some cream in yer vittles!”) Nowadays, being so much wiser, we cream up those starchy corn kernels by adding still more starch … kind of like they do at feed lots to provide us with well-marbled cows.
One large egg is a significant source of a number of vitamins and minerals, and contains only 75 calories and 5 grams of fat. Moreover, most of this fat is the healthy, unsaturated variety. (Eggs are high in cholesterol, but the chief villain in raising blood-cholesterol levels is not the cholesterol in our diets, but in saturated fats.)
Boy, they had me going for a minute, actually praising eggs. Then they had to go and point a finger at the chief villain. And by the way, that last sentence makes no sense. It’s not the cholesterol in our diets, but in saturated fats … ? Huh? If the cholesterol is hiding inside saturated fats (and probably wearing a fake moustache so we don’t catch on), how does it get into our bodies if not through our diets? Do we fall asleep and accidentally snort saturated fat particles floating around in the air?
Saturated fat doesn’t raise cholesterol. It raises HDL, which isn’t actually cholesterol, but a protein that carries old cholesterol from your tissues to your liver. High HDL is desirable. So snort that saturated fat out of the air and don’t feel guilty about it.
Chicken thighs: They are higher in fat and calories than breasts, but as long as you remove the skin and any excess fat, economical thighs fit into a good-for-you diet.
I sometimes eat chicken without the skin, but only because my daughter steals it when I’m going to the refrigerator for more butter. She loves the skin. Why? Because it’s fatty, and her little brain wants the fat. So does yours.
The Healthiest Carb You’re Not Eating. This writer heard about the wonders of whole grains at a conference. As she explains, “I was so blown away by the accumulating evidence of their protective effect against chronic disease that I made a beeline for the grocery store when I got home and purchased a box of the one brand of whole grain pasta I could find.”
In the studies that blew her all the way to the grocery store, researchers had one group eat white-flour products, while the second group consumed whole-grain products. The people who ate whole grains ended up with a lower rate of diabetes, among other ailments. So the researchers came to the obvious conclusion: whole grains prevent those diseases.
Anxious to repeat this rock-solid logic, I had one group of men smoke unfiltered cigarettes for 10 years, while a second group smoked the filtered variety. Turns out the men smoking the filtered cigarettes had a lower rate of lung cancer. This proves that filtered cigarettes prevent lung cancer. We should be passing them out in schools and using them to treat anyone who’s been exposed to asbestos.
5 Things You Need to Know About Dieting. Shape magazine promised to “set the record straight” about what fills you up. Here are some quotes:
Know this: It’s not the fat in foods that makes you feel full. That greasy cheeseburger will leave you feeling full all day, so it’s worth the splurge, right? Wrong! Fat is the slowest food component to clear the stomach, so for years it was assumed that fatty foods slowed digestion and kept you feeling full longer. Recent research proves the proportion of sugar and fat has little or no differences in satiety ratings. In fact, protein tends to leave people feeling more satisfied than either carbs or fat. The problem with fat is that it has more than twice the calories of protein or carbs.
That must be some interesting recent research, because a ton of old research demonstrates pretty clearly that given exactly the same number of calories, the higher the carbohydrate content, the hungrier people will be. Even the low-carb skeptics admit that people on low-carb diets end up eating less, which is why they call it “a low-calorie diet in disguise.” They just can’t seem to explain how the disguise curbs hunger. Perhaps hunger pangs are afraid of strangers wearing fake moustaches or other disguises, assuming they might be cholesterol preparing to hide themselves inside some saturated fats.
Know this: Low-carb diets don’t flush calories from the body. Proponents of low-carb diets claim you can excrete fat fragments (called ketones) in urine on this type of diet, essentially flushing calories out. But a study at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg found no correlation between urinary ketone levels and weight change in women on low-carb diets.
Okay, they actually have a point. For all the good he did, I blame Dr. Atkins for the misconception that a positive reading for ketones in the urine automatically means you’re losing weight. It doesn’t; it simply mean you’re primarily burning fat for fuel. If I eat a big, fatty meal, I will get a positive ketone reading without losing weight, because my body has no need to tap my fat stores.
But here’s why ketones are good: Your brain prefers them for fuel, as do many other organs. And if you’re burning fat, it means your body isn’t relying on glucose, which in turn means your insulin levels are going to be lower. Then when you do need to tap your fat stores, they’re open for business. Otherwise, you can semi-starve yourself, and your body will respond by slowing your metabolism.
5 Sauces to Avoid at All Costs. This author provides helpful suggestions for cutting the flavor out of the sauces you like. Some examples:
Low-fat Alfredo. Add two cups of plain soymilk (the thicker consistency mimics Alfredo) to a pot over low heat. Stir regularly to prevent sticking. Don’t bring milk to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of dry milk powder, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to mixture. Continue to stir until cheese is melted and milk is thickened. If mixture is not of the desired consistency, add dry milk powder and stir until dissolved. You’ll slash the fat calories by more than half!
Brilliant idea. While taking in a load of pasta to spike my blood sugar, I like to offset the effects by filling my body with soy and screwing up my thyroid. (I love alfredo sauce, so when I whip up a batch, I pour it over spaghetti squash or French-style green beans.)
Healthier alternative (to real salad dressing): Canned vegetable stock. Place in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water until dissolved. Add this mixture to the boiling liquid. This will thicken the stock and create the same consistency as high-fat, oil-based dressings.
Boy, doesn’t that sound delicious? Vegetable stock, with corn starch to thicken it up. This will also thicken your blood as your liver takes the starch and converts it to triglycerides. And by the way, without fat, your body won’t be able to absorb the fat-soluble nutrients contained any vegetables you put on your salad. So let’s see … none of the flavor, few of the nutrients, and a big load of triglyceride-raising starch. Pass me the Caesar dressing, now!
Yes, there is a good, in a lovely article titled Does Fat Make You Fat? Here are some samples:
The fat-free craze didn’t begin in the ’90s though. For decades, scientists were warning of the dangers of fats. Saturated fat was deemed a killer, clogging the arteries and causing our pants to get tighter.
Never mind that for thousands of years indigenous cultures ate animal fat at nearly every meal and only in recent times had obesity become a problem and heart disease become a #1 killer.
It didn’t work. We are fatter and sicker than ever before. Many of us – myself included! – ended up with dry skin, constipation and a cold feeling in our bones. Our bodies’ need for fat manifested itself in magnificent cravings we satisfied at 3 a.m. with french fries and Ben & Jerry’s.
When I started eating more butter and taking fish oil, my skin really showed a difference. Lines in my face actually went away!
Bravo! I’m 50 years old, and I barely have any lines in my face. A year ago, I was carded while buying wine in a grocery store in Tennessee. When I asked the clerk if he was kidding, he said, “Sorry, we have to card everyone under 40.” I would’ve kissed him, but they frown on that kind of behavior in the south.
Now here’s the irony of the good, the bad, and the ugly: The bad and the ugly articles were provided by health magazines … Prevention, Men’s Health, Shape, etc. The good was featured in something called Women and Co., networking for the career-minded woman.
So we’ve got actual health nuts out there reading articles telling them to cut the fat and eat corn starch and pasta and soy milk. They’ll end up with arthritis, snap a ligament lifting weights at the gym, develop Type II diabetes while recovering in an easy chair and eating soy milk-smothered pasta, then wonder what the heck happened.
Meanwhile, career-minded women who want to network more effectively are learning they should be eating plenty of natural fats. They’ll be elbowing the health nuts out of their way as they power along to their next big meeting, looking fabulous in their business suits and their wrinkle-free skin.
I just hope the fat-eating career women network their way into taking over a few media empires. Then they can kick the health reporters’ tired, wrinkled butts.