Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Senile Subjectivity Of A 'Healthy Diet'

The idea of a "healthy diet" is enough to confuse just about anyone

I was watching television while working out on the elliptical machine at the YMCA today (as I do everyday!) when I saw something that jumped off the screen and got me to thinking (yes, these "epiphany" moments do happen from time to time!).

There was a Crestor commercial on featuring that actor from the new CBS television drama "Criminal Minds" talking about how the statin drug Crestor can lower your LDL and raise your HDL cholestorol crap BLAH BLAH BLAH. Have you seen it? I'm sure you have since it annoyingly comes on every other commercial nowadays.

Today, though, I noticed something different about this ad I'd seen a hundred times before. There were a series of on-screen messages along the bottom that describe what patients taking Crestor need to do in conjunction with taking this prescription drug. One message said, "Crestor has not been found to prevent heart disease or heart attack." Hmm, then why the heck are millions of people being prescribed this dangerous drug, you know? That will have to be a topic for another day, although I've briefly talked about it previously in this blog post.

However, it's what I saw next that got the wheels to start turning in my brain. It said Crestor should be combined with a "healthy diet." That was all it said regarding how you should eat -- just make it a "healthy diet."

Am I the only one who wonders what the heck they mean by a "healthy diet?" We hear that phrase bantered about all the time (the guy who gained national fame this week for his "lawnmower" weight loss plan said he wants to eat a "healthy diet") in television ads like this one, from medical professionals and doctors, from health columnists, and virtually everyone who shares an opinion about nutrition. Isn't it odd how all of these people just automatically ASSUME (you know where that'll get you!) that people KNOW what a "healthy diet" is?

Obviously with two of out every three Americans who are currently either overweight or obese, we must NOT know what constitutes a "healthy diet" or we would all be doing those things to make us skinnier and healthier. If we did, then the numbers wouldn't be as high as they are, right?

Oh, sure, if you asked people to go into greater detail about what they think a "healthy diet" means to them, I'm sure you'd hear some generic responses like the following that would be the direct result of the societal indoctrination they have been exposed to for the past three decades:

"Eat less saturated and total fat"
"Eat more fruits and vegetables"
"Eat lots of whole grains"
"Eat a balanced diet"
"Eat low-calorie foods in smaller portions"

What's wrong with answers like these which come almost directly from the new American Heart Association guidelines that were recently released to the public? In and of themselves, there is nothing necessarily wrong with them. If you want to lose weight, then following those broad definitions of what a "healthy diet" is will certainly help get you started off on the right track in general compared with how the typical American eats. Is that the entire picture and is it enough?

The problem that I have is when you throw those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb into the mix of this debate over a "healthy diet." Whether the health "experts" will ever admit to it or not, there is very clear evidence that shows the low-carb lifestyle is an extremely safe and very effective way to manage both weight and health. With that said, let's take a look at how someone on low-carb would briefly describe a "healthy diet":

"Eat more protein and fat"
"Greatly reduce or eliminate sugar consumption"
"Cut out white flour, processed, and starchy foods"
"Limit your net carb intake to 20-60g daily"
"Consume low-glycemic fruits and vegetables"

Is anyone going to argue with me that these statements I have just listed are an "unhealthy" way to eat? Anyone? If you do, then allow me to write out for you a typical day's menu of what I have eaten over the past few months and I want you to tell me why this would not fit into the definition of a "healthy diet":

4 eggs cooked in macadamia nut oil
Topped with cheese and green leafy veggies

GoLower bar

ChocoPerfection bar

Turkey and cheese sandwich
Served on low-carb flax seed bread
Topped with mayo and mustard
Spinach leaves


Handful of almonds and/or strawberries & whipped cream

Chicken or steak and shirataki stir fried in avocado oil
Mixed with brocolli and cauliflower
Served with green leafy salad and Ranch dressing

CarbSmart ice cream
Topped with blueberries & whipped cream

The challenge is on -- does anyone reading this menu dare tell me that it is "unhealthy?" The question is very simple -- "Is this menu unhealthy?" PERIOD. Yes or no?

If you believe NO, IT IS NOT UNHEALTHY, then why isn't this way of eating being promoted alongside the low-fat theory which has proven to be a fraud and gone completely unchallenged in the half-century since it was thrust upon the people of this country without one single shred of scientific evidence showing it to be a healthy way to lose weight, keep it off, and ward off disease? Any of you low-fat supporters care to explain that one to me because I'd REALLY like to know. That's why you have intelligent modern doctors like this one asking questions and calling for a moratorium on all dietary recommendations not backed by science.

On the other hand, if you believe YES, IT IS UNHEALTHY to eat that list of foods I've outlined above, then please advise what makes it that way? BE SPECIFIC! I don't want to hear about that it doesn't fit within the government-indoctrinated Food Pyramid or that it contains too much this or that. I want to see your evidence for condemning this way of eating that allows people to stay satisfied with delicious foods, including lots of healthy portions of fruits, vegetables, nuts and more.

Some dietitians are really strange in their opposition to livin' la vida low-carb. If you describe the foods that make up what low-carb living is to them, then most would respond that it is a healthy way to eat and live. But then watch their reaction do a 180 degree spin when you tell them you've just described for them what "low-carb" is -- LOOK OUT! They'll immediately begin condemning it and blast this exact same plan they just said was healthy so fast it'll make your head spin. What's that all about? Where's the objectivity when it comes to trying to help people eat healthier?

That is exactly the point I'm making here. There is so much senile subjectivity when you start discussing the idea of a "healthy diet" that the phrase becomes unrecognizably convulted without a clear definition and clarity about what it means. If you leave it up to people who are not registered dietitians or doctors or have not done their homework about what good nutrition is to come up with their own definition of what that phrase means, then how can we expect them to even know how to eat a "healthy diet?" The answer is you cannot and that's the real rub I have with this.

I'm troubled about this issue because I contend the future of modern society is predicated on what we believe a "healthy diet" really is. If we don't get our act together in the next few years, then this obesity problem could very well take over our country and bring an end to the United States of America as we know it because of the burden it will place on our healthcare system, worker productivity, and ultimately our economy, among other things. This is a crisis that needs "outside-the-box" solutions being proposed rather than the same-old failed arguments that have gotten us nowhere for decades.

It may sound preposterous and even a little conspiratorial to suggest such a catastrophic event could happen within a decade or two, but I believe it is coming sooner rather than later. While terrorism is definitely a threat to our nation's future from the outside, this problem with obesity is just as great a threat to our nation's future from within. Make no mistake about it.

So the next time you hear someone suggesting you should be eating a "healthy diet," be sure to ask them what they think that phrase actually means. Then share with them about livin' la vida low-carb and why it too fits within a sound definition of a "healthy diet" and perhaps we can begin to change this mind-numbed robot mindset one person at a time. This could very well be our last chance to make a difference in people if our government and health leaders continue to abdicate their responsibility to educate the public about what a "healthy diet" is.


Blogger Newbirth said...

Offhard, I'd say you're eating too many low-carb "products." Try real food in place of the bars.

And the "healthy" diet Crestor refers to is low-fat. There's another statin commercial I've seen where the woman says, "I watch what I eat, and my cholesterol is still higher than my doctor and I want it to be." I bet "watching what I eat" means doing low-fat.

7/09/2006 8:54 PM  

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