Saturday, July 13, 2002

What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?
This is what my mother taught me 40 years ago, backed up by the vague observation that Italians tended toward corpulence because they ate so much pasta. This observation was actually documented by Ancel Keys, a University of Minnesota physician who noted that fats ''have good staying power,'' by which he meant they are slow to be digested and so lead to satiation, and that Italians were among the heaviest populations he had studied. According to Keys, the Neapolitans, for instance, ate only a little lean meat once or twice a week, but ate bread and pasta every day for lunch and dinner. ''There was no evidence of nutritional deficiency,'' he wrote, ''but the working-class women were fat.''

By the 70's, you could still find articles in the journals describing high rates of obesity in Africa and the Caribbean where diets contained almost exclusively carbohydrates. The common thinking, wrote a former director of the Nutrition Division of the United Nations, was that the ideal diet, one that prevented obesity, snacking and excessive sugar consumption, was a diet ''with plenty of eggs, beef, mutton, chicken, butter and well-cooked vegetables.'' This was the identical prescription Brillat-Savarin put forth in 1825.
Got a problem with the midnight munchies? Maybe you need to reconsider what you've been stuffing your cake hole with. Cut out the massive carbos, cut back on the sugared drinks - start up with the eggs & bacon and steak. It's not the fat that makes you fat - it's the carbos along with it..

The FDA thinks it's a bad idea. Take a look at the food guide here, and then read the article here. You'[ll need to log onto the NY Times web site, but go to Hotmail and set yourself up a bogus e-mail account to use as a spam trap if you're concerned about giving out an address.

Considering the way government's been going with some of their pronouncements, maybe the pyramid should be inverted? At least, the idea should be examined with the same sort of scrutiny reserved for Enron or Worldcom. If carbos do make you fat, the food pyramid is a guaranteed way to the next larger pants size.

And I, for one, am tired of it. Pass me a steak, and keep the potato!