Thursday, December 20, 2007

Planck: High-Carb, Low-Fat Junk Diet Has Made Us 'More Fat, Diabetic, And Heart-Diseased'

Nina Planck says it's time to get back to real, whole foods again

1. What a real treat we have at the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog as the author of the book Real Food: What To Eat And Why is here with us today. She’s food enthusiast Nina Planck and she has quite a perspective as it relates to advocating people start eating more “real food” in their diet while shunning the processed garbage that unfortunately has become all-too-common in the modern diet.

Welcome Nina and I appreciate you spending a few moments with me and my readers. You grew up around fresh produce and quickly fell in love with farmer’s markets. How did that experience shape you into the enthusiastic lover of “real food” today? And what is “real food” as opposed to “fake food?”

My mother read Adelle Davis and she taught me that real food is whole food. We ate meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and lots of produce. The only thing that was restricted in our house was junk food, and that boiled down to white flour and sugar of all kinds. So dark chocolate was a popular dessert. So was proper ice cream, not too sweet, and homemade fruit pies, and real pancakes, made with whole grains we ground ourselves.

My definition of real food is food we’ve been eating a long time and food which is more or less farmed and prepared the way it used to be. So that means wild salmon and grass-fed beef; ecological fruit and vegetables; traditional fats and oils (animal and vegetable); raw milk cheese (not processed fake cheese or low-cholesterol cheese); and whole eggs (not egg-whites, pasteurized eggs, and powdered eggs). If you eat around the edges of the supermarket, you’ll be eating real food. Avoid the highly processed, high-profit-margin, low-nutrition foods in the center. Except, as my mother would say, the brown rice and olive oil.

2. You believe (as do I) that most people would actually enjoy eating a more traditional diet of fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats and dairy products, and other real food if they simply tried them again and greatly reduced or eliminated their reliance on the overabundance of what I like to call “carbage” from their diet. But we are a nation full of people who wants what we want (junk food, fast food, meals in a box) and we don’t want to pay a lot of money for it.

How do you convince someone who says they can’t afford to eat a “healthy” diet with all those foods and is that a good enough excuse for not eating “real food?” Should the government or some other third party step in and help make fresh healthy foods more readily available to the lower-income consumer?

Carbage is expensive and because it contains so little nutrition, it’s worse than expensive: it’s wasteful. Why put all those empty calories in your body? The nutrients are in the foods we’ve eaten since the Stone Age: meat, fish, poultry, produce, nuts, and fats. I’m also a fan, nutritionally and personally, of real dairy foods (especially raw milk and good butter) but they’re not for everyone.

3. Many people have come to the conclusion that the best way for them to start eating better and living a healthier lifestyle is to start cutting the fat out of their diet. After all, we’ve always been told--at least over the past three decades--that dietary fat is the reason why we have become such a nation full of overweight and obese people. But you devoted an entire chapter of your book on the reasons why fat should be consumed, including saturated fat.

For my readers who may still be skeptical about why fat will not “clog” their arteries and give them a heart attack, explain why real foods like butter, coconut oil, beef, and other high-saturated fat sources are indeed safe for consumption. If fat is not the culprit in heart disease, then what are we eating that is contributing to this health problem?

The main villains of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are industrial foods: corn oil, corn syrup, white flour, and trans fats. Don’t eat them. The good guys are omega-3 fats in foods like wild cold-water fish; whole eggs; and natural fats, including saturated fats, like coconut oil, and unsaturated ones, like olive oil. If you eat traditional fats rather than industrial ones, you’ll be fine.

Many traditional cultures eat traditional fats, including saturated fats, and don’t get heart disease. That’s because natural saturated fats don’t raise cholesterol in unhealthy ways AND because they don’t eat industrial foods. Coconut oil in particular BALANCES HDL and LDL. Deficiency of B vitamins raises homocysteine, which damages arteries.

How did we get deficient in B vitamins? By eating carbage. Don’t eat white flour and sugars, which deplete the body of B vitamins. You’ll get plenty of B vitamins from meat, fish, poultry, and whole grains.

4. As Michael Pollan outlined in his amazing book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the real problems we face with our food supply nowadays is the prevalence of a corn derivative in virtually every food out there. And the worst culprit of them all is sugar’s evil twin--high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which sneaks its way into just about everything the average American eats.

Why do you think people are so unconcerned about eating all these foods that are nutrient-deficient and absolutely loaded with excessive amounts of sugar and carbohydrates? Is there any practical way to get through to them and hammer home the message that they are destroying their body and their health by forgoing a “real food” diet?

There is only one way: you must eliminate all forms of industrial corn from your diet, including corn oil, corn syrup, and even corn-fed beef. Of the three, corn-fed beef is by far the healthiest food. But what a New Year’s Resolution!

For the average American, a personal ban on industrial corn would be a radical move, and, I think, not a difficult one, if your eyes are open to all the foods that ARE good for you. There are so many real foods. I’m getting hungry just thinking of one category: nuts. Brazil nuts in my pantry, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts – I love them all. On you can go, with another category of real food: cheeses, say, or fruits.

5. I'm with you on the nuts and cheeses! Your passion for “real food” is so evident as I read through the pages of your book and I’m sure it makes you wonder why more people aren’t as enthusiastic about adding fresh, whole foods to their diet as has become such a normal part of your life.

Let’s see if we can help people who sincerely want to change their diet from a typical, meal-in-a-box one into a farmer’s market-styled plan. What would you suggest they do to begin making that transition starting right now?

After the corn suggestion above, I suggested eating fresh fruits and vegetables at every single meal. People are astonished at how much produce I eat everyday and I’m too often astonished at how little they eat. It’s more important to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every single day wherever they come from than to eat local and seasonal foods. The grocery store is your friend in this respect. Even the sorriest grocery story has a produce section. Use it.

6. A major problem that people who are unfamiliar with eating “real food” may not even be aware of is the big factory-styled farms. Before I lost 180 pounds eating a healthy low-carb diet in 2004, I didn’t care how a tomato got to my supermarket’s produce section. I just wanted to be able to buy one to slice up for my cheeseburger when I wanted it.

But not all fruits and vegetables and even beef are the same, are they? Explain the difference between a mass-produced food product and one that you can purchase at a farmer’s market.

Local food tastes better. There’s no doubt about it. And there is junk-–pesticides, fungicides, waxes--on a lot of industrial produce. But there is a greater difference, for your health, between processed foods and junk foods and whole, real foods. If your only choice is supermarket broccoli and grain-fed ground beef, eat it. Don’t eat the other garbage that comes in TV dinners and canned soups. Eat simple, whole foods.

If you can afford it, spend more money on foods high up the food chain. So, in our house, we spend more on grass-fed and pastured meat and dairy and eggs, and on wild seafood. Ideally, these foods should also be free of hormones and antibiotics. We buy local fruit and vegetables because we love them and are lucky to get them near us in New York City, but in the winters, my mother raised us on the produce department at the local discount chain, Magruder's. You must eat fruit and vegetables every day.

7. We hear a lot of nutritional buzz words these days that don’t mean very much to the uninformed. They’ve become such marketing slogans for food manufacturers that they are almost rendered useless in the modern vernacular since nobody really knows what they mean. Perhaps you can help clearly define what “organic,” “healthy whole grains,” and “grass-fed” means for my readers. Are there any other popular labels that you feel have become too convoluted, too?

Organic is defined by US law and it means the food was produced without chemicals, nitrogen fertilizer, irradiation, and genetic modification. Organic food is certainly a better choice, a cleaner choice, than industrial food.

Grass-fed is not defined, but it means, generally, that the beef or dairy cattle, goat, or sheep was raised on its God-given diet of grass, not grain. Many grass farmers feed some grain, so you’ll need to ask if you want 100% grass-fed.

Whole grains should mean the whole grain is there: bran, fiber, germ, and starch. Don’t be fooled by "wheat flour." It must say 100% whole wheat or whole rye to be whole grain.

8. I blog about these issues all the time, but we seem to have an ever-increasing problem with people becoming overweight and obese, getting diabetes, and putting their health at risk with such calamities as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, among others. All of this seems to coincide eerily with the nationalized promotion of a high-carb, low-fat diet ever since I was a child.

If there is such a rise in weight problems and disease despite the fact that our government and health organizations like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and others have been pushing this kind of a diet, then why haven’t other nutritional alternatives such as a low-carbohydrate diet become more embraced as an alternative for those who don’t do well on the recommended low-fat regimen?

They just haven’t moved with the science. It’s clear from the Nurse’s Health Study-–heck, it’s clear from observing the population even superficially--that the high-carbohydrate, low-fat advice has led to a nation ever more fat, diabetic, and heart-diseased. The folks in the nutritional establishment will come around when the last people who believe the failing theory have died. That’s how scientific and nutritional opinion changes shape--slowly. Too slowly!

9. One of the world’s most perfect foods in my opinion is eggs. They are chock full of some of the healthiest ingredients in the world--including protein, antioxidants, omega-3s and other essential nutrients. And yet we’ve been sternly warned against consuming them because of their high cholesterol content no thanks to the erroneous hypothesis forwarded by Ancel Keys regarding cholesterol.

Like the “fat will clog your arteries” concerns that many people have, how do you overcome the perception that a high-cholesterol diet is unhealthy? Why shouldn’t people worry about their LDL and total cholesterol so much that they’ll take a statin drug like Lipitor or Crestor to artificially lower it?

Eggs are a perfect food. They contain excellent protein, digestible fats, and many nutrients for eye and brain and heart. We have known for some time (1999, I think) that people who eat MORE eggs have LESS heart disease. We have known for some time that DIETARY cholesterol has little effect on BLOOD cholesterol. So there is no reason not to eat eggs.

There is a very good reason not to eat junk eggs: powdered, spray-dried eggs contain oxidized cholesterol which does clog arteries. Not natural fresh eggs. Don’t eat phony foods; eat real foods. One thing we notice about cholesterol-rich foods is that cholesterol likes to hang out with other nutrients. Thus some of the most nutritious foods are rich in cholesterol: eggs, shellfish, dairy, organ meats.

All these foods were (and are) prized by traditional cultures. That tells you something. There are many skeptics on statins and statins do have serious side effects. Read more at

10. What an honor it was to have you with us here today, Nina Planck. Your book Real Food: What To Eat And Why is absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend it highly enough to my readers interested in learning to eat better by putting more “real food” in their mouths.

It seems like an impossible task to get people to stop spending their money on “fake food” and to begin investing in “real food” for the sake of their weight and health. Do you believe a major paradigm shift could happen to make people become more conscious of their choices and to begin caring about the food they put inside of their bodies? And what final recommendations would you make for people wanting to adopt your "real food" philosophy?

Remember this: the information is there for anyone to read--nutrition counselors, government advice-givers, individuals. And the carbage and other junk food is also there for everyone to eat. You can’t change that. You can only change yourself. Start with your fridge.

If you’re doing all this already, you’re probably at your natural weight, so relax. Here are a few final tips I've learned along the way:

• Eat breakfast every day
• Get a lot more sleep
• Exercise (take the stairs & walk everywhere)
• Take smaller portions
• Eat real meat, poultry or fish every day (think deck of cards)
• Eat whole dairy foods as often as you like
• Eat real eggs as often as you like
• Eat a lot of vegetables at every meal (more than you think)
• Eat as many whole grains as you need (the size of your fist)
• Eat nuts, chocolate & coconut (if you like them)
• Eat a lot of omega-3 fats from wild fish (daily flaxseed oil for vegetarians)
• Don’t eat industrial vegetable oils
• Reduce or eliminate white flour, white rice & sugar
• Don’t eat junk food, diet food, or foods engineered to be low-fat

Learn more about Nina Planck and her Real Food concepts by visiting And be sure to sign up for her newsletter to stay current on all the latest news and information about living healthy with "real food."

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Blogger Froilee said...

Thank was the best Jimmy, thank you, I'm going to listen and read that several times. Really encouraged today, thank you, Warm hugs, Rene'

12/21/2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Just a few short years ago I was as hoplessly addicted to sugar and hybrid carbohydrates as you are.

Today I can almost say that I have this addiction totally whipped.

Now if I get to live to tell the story -- that will be(so to say) the pudding with the pie or having your cake and eating it too.

I was a fat guy and I have lost 80# so far. -- I'm still fat but I won't always be fat. Yesterday I bought a five pound chub of hamburger at Walmart for $6 and put the whole thing on my outdoor gas grill and baked it with the lid closed for about an hour on medium high heat. -- Actually I got busy with an emergency and forgot it until it was cooked more than I normally would.

I turned off the heat and just left it to finish up by itself. A few hours later I opened the lid and there it was, kind of light colored on the top and then I turned it over and it was burnt some on the bottom which didn't surprise me because when I had remembered it a few hours before and went to it, smoke was rolling out of the barbecue quite a bit but I knew it wasn't burnt real bad because it hadn't been that long. I would have turned it over then but another emergency arose in that I had forgotten during the first emergency that I was supposed to pick up the kids at school at 3:30 and it was now 3:45 and I still had to drive the five minutes to get them. They are just five and seven years old so being late was not a good thing. The teacher stayed and watched them so everything worked out OK.

I may as well tell you the first emergency. I was grilling my hamburger and fixing on a small trailer that I pull behind my car to haul wood and mis merchandise that I buy for resale or myself when all of a sudden I heard this car roaring it's motor and spinning and broadsiding in the snow. -- I live in a fairly small trailer court with about forty trailers. The first thing I did was look for children but there were none because it was still school time and the weather was bad enough that the little ones weren't out playing so I didn't have to run out in the middle of this. I knew it was a crazy drunk and it was. He kept roaring and spinning in circles all the way to the mail boxes and then got out all tough. I called 911 and got the operator on the line and we got the cops to come. Two sheriff squads and a city. The drunk got arrested for DWI after mouthing off to me before the cops got here.

Not a pleasant situation.

Anyway my hamburger.

I didn't get to eat my second meal yesterday because I got busy and the kids wanted to go ice skating and sledding after they got out of school and then we went to the Chinese Buffet after that and I drank water while they ate and it was later in the evening when I got home. I wasn't hungry but I opened the barbecue to look at my hamburger and when I turned it over to look at the bottom to see how burnt it was it was light in weight so I knew it was fully cooked. Probably overcooked and it was but not ruined. I took it in the house and broke it in half and proceeded to eat about half of it. It tasted like good cake. I ate about two pounds. Nothing on it and nothing but water to drink. I really enjoyed my meal.

The second half I am eating this morning for breakfast and I am enjoying it immensely. -- So I got my sugar and carbohydrate addiction whipped. Now it's on to living. Thank You

12/22/2007 9:21 AM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

We will know we have arrived when Documentaries like Ken Burns -- 'Civil War' and 'The War' are shown in the same manor about hybrid carbohydrates from there beginning and what and where they have taken us too. We WILL have arrived!!! -- and the day will come.

12/26/2007 5:48 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi, Jimmy! I just picked Nina's book up at the library and was glad to find an interview you'd done with her on your blog. I'm really enjoying her book, and it's encouraging me to eat REAL FOOD, not carbage! Thanks for the interview with was nice to see a condensed summary of her thoughts!

2/17/2008 7:31 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

It was my pleasure, Rachel! Nina is really on to something here that I think has been lost in our fast-food, junk food society. Real food has become the exception these days instead of the rule. Lemme know how eating this way impacts you. :) And thanks for sharing your comments.

2/17/2008 7:38 PM  
Blogger Fred Hahn said...

Great interview Jimmy. Nina is a great gal. I gave her book to all my clients for Xmas 2 years ago.

However, one thing she forgot to mention was the importance of strength training.

6/22/2008 2:48 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

It may have just been an oversight, Fred, since I didn't ask Nina about strength training. :) THANKS for reading!

6/22/2008 3:03 PM  

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