Last week I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the annual meeting for the Association on Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They were having their annual health care conference and invited me to come speak about eating a low carb, high fat diet and whether it is healthy and sustainable. I prepared over several months, and gave my talk to a full room. It was not just the AND crowd, but many of the other conference attendees as well. In fact, my talk drew the biggest crowd all day. The benefits of eating low carb, high fat are becoming better understood, and interest is blooming because it works.
I began my talk with my own story, my own struggles with dieting and food, struggles that have plagued me for the majority of my life. I went on to discuss a generation of people now in their 60s and 70s who are arguably the most unhealthy 65+ population in history... a generation who had their babies at the time of the government rollout of the food pyramid thus spending the majority of their adult lives eating low fat.
I highlighted the changes made to food that coincide with the rapid increase in obesity and diabetes since the USDA guidelines were established and I argued that the food-like-substances we consume on a daily basis are a big cause of not only obesity, but most of the chronic diseases from which we now suffer. I presented research showing improvement in not only weight, but other diseases that are caused and affected by highly processed high sugar foods. In addition I refuted the common controversies surrounding a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet, and then explained how to get started.
I was impressed by the quality of questions at the end of my session – how to implement, what do I eat in a day, how to help people who have food insecurity or who cannot afford quality foods. Unsurprisingly though, one long practicing dietitian commented that “although this might be a good diet to treat afflictions like seizures, that it was not for most people. The USDA guidelines are backed on good science and should be followed.” She then stated almost verbatim from my talk the reason “experts” give for increased obesity, that people are obese because they “are not following the guidelines”.
Study after study show that people have followed the “guidelines” – they have reduced red meat, reduced saturated fat, increased vegetable oils, drank skim milk, eaten low fat dairy, increased fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and have increased exercise. And slowly as a nation we have continued to gain weight. This theory of “not following guideline” would be funny if it did not have such drastic consequences especially because the problem was virtually nonexistent before we had them.
So why do people fight the idea of eating a low carb high fat or well formulated ketogenic diet? Why does eating whole real food, excluding grain create such a threat?
Part of the reason is dogma. We have been given guidelines for 30-40 years and they are stuck in our brains. It is hard for people to believe that we could be doing it wrong, or that conflicting research has been completely ignored. Another reason, is that our world is run by those with money. How many of you believe in climate change? Ever wonder why our policy makers turn a blind eye to it? Could it be that our “guidelines” are lobbied by food manufacturers and big pharma? We have shown time and time again that eating saturated fat does not cause heart disease, that there are no essential nutrients in grains, that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, and that you can actually reverse diabetes. Yet the guidelines change only minimally each time they are written.
Eating real food that is naturally low in carbohydrates can do amazing things for you. It can affect your body shape, your hormones, your sleep. It can reverse your metabolic issues while giving you increased energy as well as decreased inflammation. There are studies that show that eating low carb high fat can positively affect many chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
This is my passion, if I have stoked your interest, let me share it with you.