Monday, June 18, 2012

Taking Out the Carbage

[This piece was written for my “Taking Out the Carbage” column in Kit Pharo’s “Pharo Cattle Company Update.” I’m "leveraging" it here in the hope that it will help me get back into regular contributions to this blog …]

“Title page of "La Physiologie du Goût" ("The Physiology of Taste") by French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) with a portrait of the author. 1848 edition.” From Wikipedia

"Shun anything
made with flour, no matter in what form it hides; do you not still have the roast, the salad and the leafy vegetables?"

This quote from Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's The Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, makes three points:

1. Carbohydrate restriction is not a new concept. The notion of the fattening carbohydrate has been around for almost two hundred years. Nor is it a "fad" diet. Its status as the most effective means of treating obesity was thoroughly established and well accepted by researchers and clinicians until the 1960s.

2. Those genetically predisposed to fatten (us "easy keepers") who want to be as lean as their genetics will allow them to be (and those exhibiting the various conditions of metabolic syndrome) should limit their carbohydrate intake. The degree of restriction will be individually determined. The easiest place to start is by avoiding added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages. But we must also limit starch. Starch, when digested, is sugar (glucose).It doesn't matter if it comes from "healthy whole grains" or refined white flour. Its effect on blood sugar is quite similar.

3. Any diet that includes "the roast, the salad and the leafy vegetables" can hardly be called boring! People typically do not suffer hunger on this type of diet, and since they experience greater weight loss and improvements in metabolic markers, it is an easier diet to maintain than low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.

"Oh, Heavens!" all you readers of both sexes will cry out, "oh Heavens above! But what a wretch the Professor is! Here in a single word he forbids us everything we most love, those little white rolls ... and those cookies ... and a hundred other things made with flour and butter, with flour and sugar, with flour and sugar and eggs! He doesn't even leave us potatoes, or macaroni! Who would have thought this of a lover of good food who seemed so pleasant?"

"What's this I hear?" I exclaim, putting on my severest face, which I do perhaps once a year. "Very well, then: eat! Get fat! Become ugly, and thick, and asthmatic, and finally die in your own melted grease: I shall be there to watch it."

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825

edited 10:06 6/18/2012