I want to introduce you to another scientist who has dedicated a great deal of his life to understanding calories and weight gain. Gary Taubes, co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative and author of “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do about It” asks:
Why do so many of us get so fat? The answer appears obvious. “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight,” the World Health Organization says, “is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.” Put simply, we either eat too much or are too sedentary, or both. By this logic, any excess of calories—whether from protein, carbohydrate, or fat (the three main components, or “macronutrients,” in food)—will inevitably pack on the pounds.”
He goes on to question the theory we have been brought up to accept: So the solution is also obvious: eat less, exercise more. The reason to question this conventional thinking is equally self-evident. The eat less / move more prescription has been widely disseminated for 40 years, and yet the prevalence of obesity, or the accumulation of unhealthy amounts of body fat, has climbed to unprecedented levels. Today more than a third of Americans are considered obese—more than twice the proportion of 40 years ago. Worldwide, more than half a billion people are now obese.
Processed foods supposedly give us a lot of energy for very little work. In contrast, veggies, nuts and whole grains make us sweat for our calories, generally offer far more vitamins and nutrients than processed items, and keep our gut bacteria happy. So it would be logical for people who want to eat healthier and forget the calories to favor whole and raw foods over highly processed foods. But we tend to want to know the fastest and easiest diet and read various books and magazines searching for our aha moment!
If we read a book on scientific nutrition, eating appears to be simply a biological process as the above paragraph; nutrient intake, digestion, and cellular assimilation. Read a book about dieting, and eating is presented as a war. It is you against the calories, you against your body fat, and you against your desires. Read any number of books on “natural” ways of nutrition, and eating may be presented as a divinely ordained system. Disregard its commandments, and wrathful gods will punish you with ill-health. Read any popular cookbook or food magazine, and eating is presented solely as an affair of the palate where each recipe is orchestrated for your sensual pleasure. Read any book on eating disorders, and you will realize that our attitude to food may be literally a matter of life and death. You may have heard the thought that animals feed but humans eat. So many of us are searching for a sensible source of information about diet that explains the complexities of the eater’s mind. We want a way to understand our relationship to food and body without being told that what we are eating is “wrong” or being harassed into following another “break-through” diet system. Few books nourish us at deeper levels. Eating is a vastly unexplored area in psychology.
Many people talk more openly about their sex life than about their eating habits. As public a phenomenon as eating is, our personal issues with food and body image may be the best-kept secrets we have. If the estimates of forty to sixty-five million dieters in America is anywhere near correct, that amounts to a great deal of dissatisfaction. I personally like a book that relates to this very thought. It is “Nourishing Wisdom, A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well Being” by Marc David.
I have to close now and go eat dinner!