Fat Phobia – How did we get here?

before and after

These are my before and after snapshots, capturing the essence of who I am at that moment. A moment frozen in space, captured for all time, to reminisce and mull over. The picture on the left was taken in 2014 and the one on the right, very recently at a cousin’s 40th birthday celebration. I have trouble believing that either picture is mine. My rational mind knows and understands that the images are real but a part of me simply cannot reconcile the two. I have trouble believing it’s the same person. It’s not just the appearance but I feel like a different person – certainly more confident but also more positive in my outlook to life. I look forward to life and want to embrace it. I want to experience everything that the universe has to offer.

In the picture on the left, I was probably at between 95-100kg! Shocking you say – well yes –  but to be honest, I was in denial for a very long time before (and after) this picture was taken. I knew I was large but did not realise or wouldn’t admit, to myself, just how large I had become. My mental switches would go off when it came to my weight and I would get emotionally offended if someone made a disparaging remark about my appearance.  I hated that I could not get into my favourite clothes, that I had to go to plus sized stores to shop or that I felt I was being judged at every turn because of the way I looked. I recently came across Aleya Kassam’s blog – she writes so beautifully and with so much heart. There is a piece called F**K BEAUTY and it is a work of art that hammers the proverbial nail on the head.

These years of constant low self esteem, in retrospect, were probably lessons in the path to self discovery. Isn’t that what we tell ourselves, that difficult times and heart wrenching emotions make us stronger? That may be true but it can also break us, rob us of our very soul with a swiftness that leaves us bewildered and gasping  for breath, threatening to devour every fibre of our being.

It did not have to be this way, though. If I had gotten the right advise it would never have gone this far. I would never have had to suffer the shame, the humiliation of being obese, the agony of diabetes.

In the old days, it was really quite simple, if you wanted to lose weight, you didn’t eat in between meals and you didn’t eat starchy and sugary foods. Your mother knew this. Your grandmother has probably told you  to lay off snacking in between meals because you’ll spoil your dinner and advised you to lay off sugary and starchy foods, if you want to lose weight. In the early years of the 20th century, diabetes was not a common disease but they knew how to treat it. I came across “Diabetic Cookery – Recipes and Menus” by Rebecca W Oppenheimer, that was from 1917. You can download it here.  It has a pretty comprehensive list of all the foods to avoid and eat as a diabetic. On the ALLOWED FOODS were fats such as butter and lard, vegetables that are not starchy, meats, shellfish and fish esp. oily fish, while on the NOT ALLOWED FOODS were white flours, sugar, starchy vegetables, rice – basically all foods that were high in carbohydrates. Look sneakily like LCHF?! Well, it is – And they knew this in 1917!!

So,  what happened?!! How did we go from knowing the strategies to successfully manage and reverse diabetes to complete disregard for these same strategies that worked and instead opt for strategies that make the disease worse and in fact insist that it is a chronic disease!!

In his seven countries study, Dr. Ancel Keys sought to prove that there was a link between saturated fat and coronary heart disease. He successfully showed a corelation between the two but he also insinuated that there was a causal link between these variables. Dr. Jason Fung, has provided a great summary of the events that occurred to make us so fat-phobic, here. You will see that Dr. Keys did not report the full extent of his study and simply reported the data which proved his hypothesis. His original study constituted 22 countries and the results were all over the place. He effectively doctored his studies to suit his hypothesis!!

One of the fundamental problems with this study, is that Dr. Keys  assumes that the co-relation between the two variables means that one causes the other. However, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. Just because something appears to be related does not necessarily mean that one is the cause of the other. Without hard scientific proof, one cannot assume this. For the most part, the medical community does this most of the time and it works very well for the most part. Clinical trials are very expensive and time consuming to conduct so this is the easier option. I do think, however, that if sweeping dietary guidelines are to be issued to an entire population, there must be laws that govern the issuance of these guidelines and the conflict of interest should be eliminated as much as possible. It is quite clear that the people who approve these guidelines have strong ties with the food and drug industries.

It appears that many doctors at the time did not agree with Dr. Ancel Keys as there was no evidence from clinical trials to prove that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. However, Dr. Keys was a man with some authority and  he managed to silence the voices of reason.   Thus a combination of Dr. Keys ambition and politics (yes, the american dietary guidelines were actually drafted by politicans!!) led to our current nutrition advise that is the cause of the diabesity pandemic that we are facing today.

It is of interest to note  thatthe old fear of fat is dying a slow death (see here) as scientific studies are revealing that the dietary fat guidelines in 1977 were a mistake from the very beginning.

In conclusion to this post, I’ll leave you with this video by Dr. Sarah Hallberg, who has successfully treated her Type 2 Diabetic Patients with a low carb diet and gotten most of them off their medication. Its titled: REVERSING TYPE 2 DIABETES STARTS WITH IGNORING THE GUIDELINES

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