Monday, September 28, 2009

Is fat my enemy?

Reading about nutrition and nutrition trends is a hobby of mine. It has been since I was about 13 or 14. (40 years!) Fads come and go; science learns new things; popular knowledge continues to be influenced by big business. In the area of health, it is important to keep your perspective. So many people have an agenda or a bias. Just as in everything else in life, you must consider the source; consider what they might gain by what they are putting forward. A friend asked how to judge what you are reading about, since there are so many differing opinions and theories on what constitutes good health. I told her that one thing I do is look at the footnotes and scientific studies quoted. Can they be substantiated? Does the science work? Are there conflicting messages?

A blogger that I follow posted these guidelines, which I think can keep the confusion in perspective:

This is my method: first I ask God to guide me, and then I ask myself these questions

  1. What is the most natural, traditional way…the way God originally intended?
  2. How did our ancestors eat?
  3. What makes the most sense?
  4. Whatever I’m reading at the moment, what are they selling or how do they benefit if I believe what they say?

You can’t go too wrong following these guidelines.

A recent, fascinating read was "Rethinking Thin" by Gina Kolata. She studied diets and dieting and challenged conventional wisdom regarding weight loss. Can we lose weight and keep it off? Do we need to lose weight? The answer might surprise you. The conclusion she came to (and yes, she has pages of footnotes) was that contrary to what we've been lead to believe, being overweight is not necessarily the health hazard it's made out to be. Our culture's standard of allowable fat may tell us that those rolls shouldn't be there. But health-wise, longevity-wise, maybe you can keep them and still come out ahead. Of course, bucking the image when it's in our face constantly is another story.

1 comment:

PL said...

I think one has to ask: Why am I fat? What have I been eating? If someone is eating a lot of junk food, fast food, and generally unhealthy food, then being fat probably is a health hazard. Also, do I exercise? Answering those questions would determine whether fat is the enemy. I do believe we are not all built to be super thin! Somehow we all want to be or admire those who are, though. Weird, really.