And damn it pisses me off to admit it. I had spent two years writing the first draft an entire manifesto, The Slim Book for People Who Want to be NOT FAT, then learned that many of my core beliefs about the state of the nation’s collective ass size were flawed and incomplete at best and wrong at worst. So, I had to admit that my caustic approach of blaming and making fun of the (fat) victim, is wrong.
It’s not to say that you don’t receive any blame. Because ultimately, it’s you who makes the choices about how you live. But the real truth about our nation and globe’s obesogenic state is a much more disturbing and complex web of poor science with plenty of missing integrity plus lies, deceit and denial. So now I'm in the process of rewriting my entire book.
We are not just fat, we’re very, very sick. Fat is what you see on the outside; diseased states are the less obvious trigger. How many middle-aged adults do you know who are overweight? On medications for health complications, some of whom have no determined cause? Make that age 60 or 70… it is a rare thing to meet a retiree who is not swallowing a bucket of pills a day. And guess what? While these meds go through rigorous testing by our FDA, there is very little testing of combined drug effects. Meaning that if you take two, three or ten pills a day, there hasn’t been research done on the effects of these endless and mind-boggling combinations.
Let’s start with an individual example. How about a mid-50’s woman who has slowly been gaining weight but is otherwise healthy. She is diagnosed with hypothyroid disorder and given her first prescription. There is no discussion of how nor why it happened, and certainly not about stopping the pills because it’s an “autoimmune disorder and we just don’t know why some get them and others don’t.” Now there’s this plus psoriasis she developed a decade ago – another autoimmune disorder.
A few years later, bloodwork reveals that she has “high cholesterol.” Here comes prescription number two for daily statins – which by the way have been proven to have less than 1% effectiveness in preventing mortality for a disease that is suspect to begin with (see The Paleo Cardiologist by Dr. Wolfson and The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr. Kendrick). Meaning that most studies were done on dudes and since women have higher cholesterol to begin with, what is “high cholesterol" for her? Our patient is told to “eat low fat, exercise and lose weight,” but not counseled on how this high cholesterol happened (or debate on it it’s a true problem since Pharma says it is and keeps lowering the cholesterol limbo stick) or what interactions these statins may have with her thyroid meds. Never mind that eating low fat makes losing weight HARDER.
Soon the joint pain sets in, her hair starts falling out and her energy level is lower. All of her symptoms get worse; meanwhile she’s dutifully avoiding those “high cholesterol eggs” and eating low-fat, sugar- and grain-filled meals based around the “healthy whole grain” approach recommended by the US government and now around the world. Except when she cheats through the great American invention that is the drive through. Her weight continues to increase as does her fatigue. The joint pain and hair loss becomes so bad she decides to quit the stupid statins. Thank goodness. Let’s add in lots of different supplements suggests her physician – fish oil for cholesterol, glucosamine for joints, aspirin for stroke prevention, etc.
Some years later, the bomb drops. She has autoimmune hepatitis and is very sick. Her liver is attacking her body, and it’s not from alcohol. Reason: “We have no idea why this happens to some people, it’s very rare.” Guess what? More meds and this time steroids, immune suppressants, etc. The nightly pill swallowing routine is downright difficult to watch. And of course, the infinite number of potentially toxic combinations of pills is neither discussed nor of real concern. Just keep swallowing, baby. Almost no discussion of nutrition – that’s for hippies and “fake quack” doctors like naturopaths. Our patient is now swallowing over 10 pills per day and eating plenty of added sugar brought to you by your friends at Low Fat.. At least she’s not suffering from any mental illness.
Things start to go a little better for our patient, and then she’s diagnosed with a 90+% carotid artery blockage, leaving her at high risk for a stroke. What about all that aspirin and egg avoidance and focus on lowering cholesterol with fish oil?!! Didn’t do a damn bit of good. Must have a major surgery landing in the ICU for recovery. Thankfully, our patient is doing pretty well now as it worked. Still swallowing some but many fewer pills. But at least alive and enjoying retirement.
I wonder, how much money she has spent on pills over the last 25+ years? Which ones were truly needed? What is the cumulative effect of this massively intricate combination of pharmaceuticals? Were any of these issues caused by the pills themselves? Surely there must be a link between liver toxicity and all these pills? Why would a body’s immune system attack itself, and then continue increasing the gunfire?
What if the solution were much simpler than that? What if the first doctor had tried to get to the root cause of her thyroid problem? Were there any alternatives presented? Is it just “bad luck” or is there more to the story?
This is clearly not about blaming the patient. Nor her doctors. While it’s obvious that the vast majority of physicians are supremely deficient in nutritional knowledge, they are also supremely deprived of time with patients. Most are in a state of hurry all day long, mandated by insurers and hospitals to move it along, make a diagnosis and get on to the next patient. There’s no time for discussions about wellbeing, nutrition, alternative therapies and besides, these wouldn’t be covered by insurance anyway, so neither physician nor patient has a real incentive for going down this path. God forbid a doctor tell his patient to lose 20 (or 200) pounds. He’d then receive some sort of 2/5 star review which would send the executive MBAs in after him lecturing about low patient satisfaction ratings. Besides, most patients would rather pop another pill than exchange the expensive iPhone or cable service for funds needed to seek better and more comprehensive treatment out of pocket.
This is just the tip of the fatness iceberg, which is more complex that my original hypothesis and belief system that you’re fat because you are what you eat. Paradoxically, all of the low-fat shit pimped (promoted and subsidized) by our US government has greatly contributed to this problem. Do you know that my example patient would rather pick up a packet of crackers than eat an avocado because the latter is “too high in fat?” Where did she get the idea that a nutrient-filled fruit is a worse choice than a package of grains, corn, chemicals to preserve, and sugars to replace any trace of (evil) fat so it can be marketed as “hearty healthy, low-fat”?
This blasphemy started over 70 years ago when a nutrition researcher lacking integrity and seeking fame and power manipulated his data to “show” that dietary fat was the root of all nutritional evil and our nation’s increasing health problems. Never mind other possible contributors such as smoking, processed foods, sugar or anything else because it was (and continues to be although it’s changing) all about avoiding fat.
Immoral scientists meet elected governmental officials who party with big food processing companies and here we have it: a real fat storm. Scientist is given lots of government and food company funding to continue “studying” his flawed hypothesis and we get the piece of shit (POS) Food Pyramid which debuted in the 1970s.
This POS recommends 6-11 servings of grains per day, which is perfect since the government is subsidizing the corn, soybeans and other fillers which are all used in the processing of these “heart-healthy” packaged foods. This way farmers can maximize their money and land alongside food companies who have access to cheap shit to put in your food and maximize theirs.
I urge you to play a little game next time you’re in the supermarket: make a list of the first ten “heart healthy” foods you see which bare a big red heart (which should be a scarlet letter – A for AVOID!). Can you find one on a batch of broccoli? At a fish counter? Or in an egg fridge?
What’s on your list? If it comes in a package, contains whole grains/sugars or preservatives and chemicals, it ain’t heart healthy. It’s garbage that’s simply trying too hard. Or “marketing” (which is what I’ve done for the last 20 years so I know it when I see it), and this promotional effort is working well. You can see the campaign results in the number of packaged foods filling nearly every aisle, and in the ever-increasing size of our guts and butts along with our prescription lists.
Next supermarket game: try shopping for foods that neither have added sugar, nor chemicals/preservatives, nor fillers such as corn and soybeans and most importantly no (highly toxic) vegetable nor seed oils. Good freaking luck.
Whose fault is it that you’re fat, sick and likely over-medicated? Unfortunately, this is a much more serious problem. And it’s no laughing manner. In my opinion, it’s the worst problem we are facing, yet it receives relatively very little attention. It’s a big-ass elephant in the room and it turns out all the problem contributors want to blame you, too, for not eating right and exercising enough.
We’re too busy screwing around on Facebook sipping sugar-filled coffee and seeking shortcuts to really care. Plus, there are many, many more levels of people and programs to blame. Gaining an understanding of this complex web will piss you off, too, and that transformation is essential for you to be able to take control of your own choices and vastly improve your health.
Culpable parties include but are not limited to the following: biased researchers who accept funds from big food with a pre-determined scientific outcome and the (often very prominent) universities which allow (and encourage) this; health professionals who are either too tired, lazy or afraid to seek and speak the truth – I technically used to be one as a personal trainer telling people to follow a low-fat diet; dictatorial health organizations which certify industry professionals and are in bed with big food (should Coke be sponsoring a dietician conference?!!), some of whom make every effort to silence those with differing opinions and the science to back them; medical and nursing schools for not paying nearly enough attention to wellness; insurance companies for not covering preventative and wellness related counseling; and the US government “servants” (I hate when they call themselves public servants as if they are doing their “job” for us and not to stroke their egotistical desires and pad their pockets) who participate on almost every level of the problem, especially in subsidizing shitty agricultural products, funding shitty studies, producing shitty “guidelines” like the POS Food Pyramid and most of all, for continuing to let all this happen and pretend like they’re helping us. Here’s a visual -- my Fatness Pyramid, for those of you who like summary pictures:
It’s a lot to take in and we could waste all of our time and energy complaining about it. Or we could dive in and start shoveling. I’ve been doing the latter and I’d like you to join me in my NOT FAT crusade.
I’ll tell you who ISN’T going to help us – our government. Go look in the mirror. By becoming informed, making better choices, prioritizing your health and wellness, and ultimately, understanding that the only person who can make you NOT FAT is YOU. Your fatness may not be your individual fault, but it’s your job to create your personal solution to this fixable problem. For example, you’re helping the health cause every time you choose to buy an avocado over a corn- and sugar-filled pasta sauce, drive past a drive-through, or vote for someone who wants to stop subsidizing corn. It’s harder to go against the grain (ha ha, nutrition humor) and it does cost more. So, stop expecting food to be prepared for you and redo your damn budget. Your dollars are like votes; if you vote for a shitty product, that’s what they’ll keep producing since it’s all about demand.
The Slim Book for People Who Want to be NOT FAT, will focus on teaching you how to help yourself. We can become NOT FAT one at a time and while supporting and encouraging each other. Once you’re a success story, it would be wonderful if you would share your knowledge gained with others so that we may work together to combat obesity and the debilitating diseases it causes.
And hopefully enjoy some humor and straight talk along the way. Now I've got to get back to revising The Slim Book for People Who Want to be NOT FAT...
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