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Magic Pills, Food Villains and the Avoidance of Personal Responsibility

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  • Magic Pills, Food Villains and the Avoidance of Personal Responsibility

    There has been a lot of bickering on this forum as of late - even more than usual - and as usual, it's the typical science vs dogma argument. Almost like an act of God, I stumbled across an absolutely fantastic article this evening from a website I've never even heard of. No matter what your position is regarding health on this forum, this is absolutely worth the read.

    Magic Pills, Food Villains and the Allure of the Shiny Red Herring

    “Carbs make you fat.”

    Do you see the allure of that statement? It, and “Food Villain” statements like it, allow a person to shift the responsibility for their problems onto an outside entity. Carbs are a wildly popular Food Villain. Other examples of popular Food Villains are: High Fructose Corn Syrup, sugar, wheat, fat, fruit, PUFAs, processed food in general, dairy, animal protein, grains, gluten, starch and legumes. Food Villains are an evolved, more sophisticated form of Magic Pill. In days of yore, it was easier to sell people a Magic Pill that would miraculously cure all manner of ailments, but people are wiser now, and less likely to fall for spectacularly unrealistic marketing claims. Or so they think. Enter the Food Villain.

    Food Villain Mythology is usually supported by a handful of (cherry picked) scientific studies and an elaborate and sophisticated web of logical fallacy. The resultant construct usually holds that the Food Villain in question is the root cause of either modern society’s obesity and diabetes epidemic, or the root cause of an individual’s obesity and illness. There is usually some kernal of truth in the claim. Take wheat for instance: it is true that wheat can be problematic for some individuals who have an allergy or intolerance, and for anyone who consumes it in excess or to the exclusion of other foods that would provide a more well rounded nutritional foundation. There are other issues with wheat too, involving it’s cultivation, processing, ubiquitousness and nutrient profile. But Food Villain Mythology has taken those issues and created what amounts to mass hysteria in some circles, with an entire mythology centering on wheat’s Magical Ability to single-handedly drive obesity and disease. Scary stuff.

    Food Villains are generally foods that can cause problems for some people, under some circumstances. They are factors that can indirectly contribute to illness and weight gain. There is merit to many of the arguments against Food Villains. But Food Villain Mythology morphs those foods into primary drivers of obesity and illness. This is so very appealing to a desperate and suffering audience. Why? Because it gives them something to blame. It allows them to focus on an outside entity as the source of their suffering. It serves the human need for a Bad Guy. And shifting focus onto a Bad Guy is bad because…?

    Because the REAL primary driver of obesity and illness is human behavior. Inactivity and poor eating habits specifically: too much or too little food (also known as ‘energy imbalance’), inadequate nutrient intake, lack of dietary variety, etc. There is a MASSIVE body of scientific evidence that supports this, it is so overwhelming that The Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the NIH and the NDIC and countless other credible scientific establishments state definitively on their websites and in their literature that obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction are caused by inactivity and energy imbalance.

    Food Villains are secondary contributors at worst. But they are a bright, shiny red herring that deflects attention away from the big elephant in the room, the primary drivers of obesity and illness: human behaviors. And who wants to focus on the primary drivers anyway? That would require taking personal responsibility for one’s own behavior, and doing WORK to change it. It’s so much more appealing to blame the [carbs/sugar/wheat/fat/animal protein/PUFAs/gluten/starch/etc]. This is normal human behavior. We always look for a scapegoat. And Food Villains are a GREAT scapegoat. People get very passionate about their personal Food Villains, so much so that they lash out violently at anyone who threatens their world view that their Food Villain is the cause of all their problems.

    You can eliminate every Food Villain in the world (and there are certainly good reasons to eliminate some of them!) but even if all you eat is organic kale and coconut oil, if you ignore the primary drivers, physical activity and energy balance, you will never totally overcome your problems. Likewise, if you optimize your physical activity and correct your energy imbalance, you will be surprised at how harmless most of the Food Villains you’ve been living in fear of become. A person with healthy metabolic function can pretty much eat whatever they want and remain healthy. Food Villains, by and large, only become problematic once metabolic function has been compromised. Metabolic function is compromised by inactivity and energy imbalance, not by Food Villains. Eliminating Food Villains treats the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction, not the cause. The cause is inactivity and energy imbalance.

    So why do ‘they’ (ie, the diet book authors and the bloggers) want to keep us fixated on Food Villains and not the primary drivers? Because focusing on Food Villains keeps us sick and fat, and when we’re sick and fat, we keep buying their Magic Pills…oops, I mean ‘books about Food Villains’.

    If a food causes problems for you, don’t eat it. It’s pretty simple. But if metabolic health is your goal, you must shift your focus away from the secondary contributors and on to the primary drivers, or you will continue to spin your wheels and make the Food Villifiers rich.


    - Bread doesn't make you fat. Your behavior makes you fat. Bread is a red herring.

    Magic Pills, Food Villains and the Allure of the Shiny Red Herring
    Absolutely brilliant.

    This sums up a lot of the problems I see around here when it comes to folks that can't achieve their goals. The Primal Blueprint tends to help people lose weight not because of anything magical about the foods or their carb counts. It tends to work because whole, nutritious foods are more filling than refined, processed foods with low nutrient density. It's really easy to overeat pizza, ice cream and soda. It's harder to overeat steak, potatoes and broccoli.

    But sometimes this isn't enough. Sometimes your hunger outweighs your metabolic rate. If that's the case, all the dieting in the world won't fix it. You can briefly starve yourself a little thinner, but that'll only be temporary. The way to succeed is to alter your lifestyle significantly to help balance the energy equation. This means for most of us more exercise and even more careful diet adherence.

    The picture of the bread and the quotation is IMO the best part of the article. The funny thing is, there is nothing fattening about bread. There's really nothing in bread to store as fat since it's very difficult to store carbohydrate as fat. So why does bread tend to lead to weight gain? Because of all the fat in between the bread. Foods that include bread tend to be high caloric density, low nutrient density and when fat, sugar and starch combine, they create the perfect storm of overeating - they trigger that primal instinct inside us that tells us to overeat and pack on fat for the long winter. When you actually eat a bacon cheeseburger, pretty much the only thing on that bacon cheeseburger not being stored as fat is the bread - the bacon fat is stored as fat, the cheese fat is stored as fat, the oily french fries on the side are stored as fat...the bread goes to glycogen. It just happens that together, that beautiful taste and texture all wrapped up in one convenient handheld caloric disaster goes down so, so easily. Too easily.

    Don't blame foods for your struggles. Own your struggles, and make them your bitch!
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

  • #2
    Don't forget the "Low fat made us all fat" mantra.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Forgotmylastusername View Post
      Don't forget the "Low fat made us all fat" mantra.
      It's that essentially the same thing as 'carbs make us fat'?
      Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

      Griff's cholesterol primer
      5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
      Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
      TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
      bloodorchid is always right

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      • #4
        Good one choco. I give it 3 minutes before the first hater rears his/her ugly head...

        Comment


        • #5
          Article is guilty of that which it rails against. It takes an overly simplistic view of obesity so comes up with a solution of limited utility

          Also, there isn't a shred of science in the article. Pure opinion. You like it choco because it feeds your dogma
          Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

          Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by peril View Post
            Article is guilty of that which it rails against. It takes an overly simplistic view of obesity so comes up with a solution of limited utility

            Also, there isn't a shred of science in the article. Pure opinion. You like it choco because it feeds your dogma
            Yeah..... this is just a case of everyone look at this person who agrees with me! Woops don't mean to be a hater NOTR .

            I've seen her site before though, and yes this is a person I would expect choco and some other members to agree with whole heartitdly.

            No biggy though. We all got our biases.

            One little thing about the article that I would like her to change is this:

            "Because the REAL primary driver of obesity and illness is human behavior."...... its close, but not right IMO..... the

            Neckhammer version states:

            "The REAL primary driver of obesity and illness is human BELIEFS.... as beliefs dictate behavior.... and behavior dictates results"
            Last edited by Neckhammer; 08-25-2013, 06:18 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by magicmerl View Post
              It's that essentially the same thing as 'carbs make us fat'?
              Yep. We make ourselves fat, and we do ourselves a disservice by blaming foods instead of actually attacking the real problem - our lifestyle and habits. That's the point of the article. It's about not dieting and changing you who are to make better choices. This, of course, involves accepting personal responsibility and not believing in insulin fairy tales, so it's an uphill battle.
              Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by peril View Post
                You like it choco because it feeds your dogma
                What's my dogma? That overeating and lack of exercise makes us fat instead of blanket carbohydrate? If so, sure, I'll agree with that. If you think it's something different let me know.
                Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

                Comment


                • #9








                  Ah, now this thread is so much more bearable.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's a great article. As a long time calorie counter, I don't think people always understand how many calories are in SAD food vs. whole. Like a couple pieces of pizza is more calories than a 10 oz steak and potato. Or that a bagel and cream cheese is higher in calories than 3 pieces of bacon and a couple of eggs. If you go primal from SAD you are eating less.

                    Beyond that I've figured out weightloss can be slow. I'm beginning to see that I am beginning to reflect my activity and eating habits in my outward appearance. But it takes a long time and doesn't reflect on the scale. That can be frustrating and that's why you have to eat sustainably because you have to do it FOREVER. So creating huge lists of "forbidden foods" in hopes of accelerating a slow process is not a good idea. Seriously if I eliminated a food every time the scale stalled, I'd be eating liver and kale.

                    And I hate the focus on "weight loss". Muscle gain is awesome.

                    http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                    Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                      Ah, now this thread is so much more bearable.....
                      you should argue in more threads.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by canio6 View Post
                        you should argue in more threads.
                        Dude, you just can't look at that and be mad..... Even choco totally loves me right now

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's only one problem with this article: it's wrong.

                          "The REAL primary driver of obesity and illness is human behavior."

                          Actually, the majority of obesity is due to genetic factors.

                          Behav Genet. 1997 Jul;27(4):325-51.
                          Genetic and environmental factors in relative body weight and human adiposity.
                          Maes HH, Neale MC, Eaves LJ.
                          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9519560

                          "Genetic factors explained 67% of the variance in males and females."

                          (More discussion and supporting evidence here: Whole Health Source: The Genetics of Obesity, Part I )

                          Also note this entertaining paper:

                          Segregation of a Latent High Adiposity Phenotype in Families with a History of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Implicates Rare Obesity-Susceptibility Genetic Variants with Large Effects in Diabetes-Related Obesity
                          Arthur B. Jenkins, Marijka Batterham, Dorit Samocha-Bonet, Katherine Tonks, Jerry R. Greenfield, Lesley V. Campbell
                          PLOS ONE: Segregation of a Latent High Adiposity Phenotype in Families with a History of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Implicates Rare Obesity-Susceptibility Genetic Variants with Large Effects in Diabetes-Related Obesity

                          "We recently reported significantly greater weight gain in non-diabetic healthy subjects with a 1st degree family history (FH+) of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) than in a matched control group without such history (FH−) during voluntary overfeeding, implying co-inheritance of susceptibilities to T2DM and obesity."
                          ...
                          "The segregation of Adiposity in T2DM-affected families is consistent with dominant expression of rare risk variants with major effects, which are expressed in over half of FH+ and which can account for most T2DM-associated obesity in our population."

                          This does not mean that people bear no responsibility for their decisions! What it does mean is that the same decisions will lead to wildly varying results...

                          ...and that while a small amount of willpower may be all YOU require to keep yourself healthy, others may have to do much more in order to achieve far less. They might even have to do things you've never had to consider, like dramatically restricting the type and composition of the foods they eat.

                          In summary: Congratulations, ChocoTaco. You've successfully chosen a set of parents that allows you to remain slim with little effort. However, you might want to be cautious about giving advice to those with less foresight.

                          JS

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post

                            "The REAL primary driver of obesity and illness is human BELIEFS.... as beliefs dictate behavior.... and behavior dictates results"
                            I like this version too

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post








                              Ah, now this thread is so much more bearable.....
                              Neckhammer for the win!

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