13 thoughts on “My Triumphant Return

  1. I love your blog. I have a big crush on you. I’ve added your post over at Shakesville to my coveted “must read” list for summing up in just a few paragraphs (and with exclamation marks to keep people’s attention!) everything that is wrong with the “OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA” (as you so eloquently put it).

  2. You mention in the last sentence of your post at Shakersville how the diets have failed us. And I agree. Then a commenter mentioned the Weight Watchers posters all over the subway. They are saying the same thing: “stop dieting, start living” and “people don’t fail, diets do.” And it makes me so PISSED that those people SELLING DIETS are using this type of terminology. The same type of terminology that I am trying to use to STOP dieting. It’s is so creepy and underhanded. Counting points every frickin time you look at food is “living”? No wonder so many people are messed up. Seems like “healthy” = disordered, obsessive eating.

    Liked your whole post by the way. Just saw this connection and needed to vent. As always thanks for writing.

  3. I saw one of those Weight Watchers ads today (can’t remember where) and I was like “what the fuck?” I don’t know how Weight Watchers is “living.” Even they don’t counsel you to count points for the rest of your life, do they?

  4. Oh, I know, I saw one of the WW ads the other day and had the same reaction. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the WW folks are evil fucking geniuses for convincing the world that that program is a “lifestyle change,” not a “diet.”

  5. “Even they don’t counsel you to count points for the rest of your life, do they?” I did four or five months of WW at Work a couple of years ago, and yes, yes they do. You just get more points. You go on what’s called “lifetime maintenance.” A co-worker had made her goal and was doing that. To my knowledge she still counts points for everything.

    I do think that they teach you disordered, obsessive eating. I spent an incredible amount of time thinking about point math, even when I wasn’t particularly hungry and had plenty of points to use. I suppose it is in fact a lifestyle change, and technically it’s probably even a “sustainable lifestyle change,” but it was no way to live AFAIC.

  6. I did read Taubes’ book, and I can say that at no point did I take the message to be “we need to find some way to keep fat people from giving up their diets”. The book is not prescriptive at all, except in being a call for more research to be done; it lays out the science as he discovered it in his research and explains the alternative hypothesis. If anything I got the sense that he’s very compassionate towards people who are overweight, particularly in light of decades of scientifically unfounded diet advice. He’s also quite open about how his opinion about exercise changed in the course of his research (he originally believed the conventional wisdom that being sedentary causes overweight…he no longer feels this is the case). He obviously has his biases about what is healthy (which he applies to his own lifestyle as far as I know).

    In any case, if you enjoy non-fiction I do strongly recommend this book. It’s probably my #1 or #2 all-time favorite now (Laurie Garrett’s “The Coming Plague” takes the other top spot, although it’s now quite dated).

  7. I can’t seem to find where the comments hide on Shakes, or I would’ve read/commented there. I don’t know if my browser plugins are hiding them or what.

  8. He certainly doesn’t seem to be saying all the fatties have to try harder to lose teh fat. His reason for following a low carb way of eating himself seems to be because he believes it is healthier for him.

    He’s answering readers questions over at:

    http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/36758/17729/gary-taubes/1/

    A person said they had lost a large amount of weight but couldn’t seem to drop the last 30 lbs without extreme hunger and asked if he had any suggestions. Part of his answer included words to the effect “you may just have to live with the 30 lbs.” Another part amounted to “you may not be eating enough.”

  9. I’m a little late to this party…but I just finished Taubes’ book, and recently discovered your blog. Taubes’ NYT article back in 02 called “What If it’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” caused me to take a look at LC diets and Atkins in particular, and similarly, the recent NYT article got me to check your blog out as well.

    I was a little heavy growing up, although not as big as I thought I was during those traumatic teenaged years, and then my weight steadily grew through college, grad school, and my adult life. I lost 65 pounds on Atkins in 03, and kept it off for a couple of years until going through a traumatic breakup and going up 40 pounds (and yes, there was plenty of binge eating — an insidious form of self-medication — during that time). I’ve read Kolata’s book, and I’ve read Taubes’ book, and more diet articles than you can count, although until doing Atkins, I pretty much was in the FA camp and was pretty anti-diet.

    Here’s what I think is going on, and how some of this stuff can be reconciled. Taubes is a science journalist. He’s not a scientist or a doctor, with a personal stake in the outcome of test results. His personal stake is in the meticulousness of his research and the quality of his writing, because he’s so directly slaying the dragon of conventional wisdom that he has to be extra careful about what seem to be outlandish claims.

    It’s no secret that the medical and scientific establishment is extremely hostile towards low-carb diets. Even now, when all of the recent studies show that they’re more effective for inducing weight loss and for improving health, the attacks remain virulent, perhaps because the facade is cracking through work such as Taubes’.

    But the fact that low-carb diets work to take off weight and correct the hormonal balance that causes obesity doesn’t address the issue of making a permanent change in one’s eating habits. Studies such as the one Kolata writes about, and the one released last year never seem to tell us how many people actually complied with the diet for the entire study.

    When you start eating carbs after a period of carb deprivation, your body retains even more weight than it did before you started. So people think that you can’t lose weight on them, or keep it off permanently, because they’re not seeing the results from just the people who are carb teetotalers.

    For me, health at any size requires low-carbing. I feel better, I look better, and while I lose weight, that’s not the primary goal. I have to treat sugar and starch the way an alcoholic in recovery treats alcohol — something I can’t have. Ever. Not even in moderation. I don’t know whether making that change permanent will make my BMI what the experts tell me it should be, and don’t care. But I do know it will stave off the diabetes that killed my grandmother at 62, my mothers’ siblings, and now my 52-year-old cousin. And if Taubes’ research is sound, and I certainly believe it is, it will stave off heart disease, cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

    Please read the book. It also addresses your metabolism argument. All the things you talk about happening — the body’s response to starvation, etc., he covers in detail. All of that happens on low-fat, low-calorie diets. But there’s a great deal of evidence that the body responds differently when you’re only eating protein and fat, and the starvation response isn’t evoked. But we never get to hear about that — just the people who have “failed” low-carb diets, just like they’ve failed every other diet they’ve tried.

  10. I heartily agree with bamboodiaries. Taubes’ book is simply amazing, and very very worth reading.

    I didn’t actually find this blog or FA until after I happened to have ‘succeeded’ in my ‘diet’ – which was low-carbing. But having found these blogs I find that the way I eat would totally fit into HAES principles.

    For what it’s worth, I have been eating the low-carb way since 2001. Part of living HAES is of course not being too rigid with food when it would make you feel bad – so it’s not like sugar or white flour has never passed my lips since then. But it’s a rarity; my essential way of eating is strict low-carb. Why? Not because it means I can maintain an 80+ pound weight loss, but because for the first time in my life I live without constant hunger and cravings. I had constant hunger and cravings every time I was on a low-fat diet but ALSO whenever I *wasn’t* dieting at all (which was the majority of my life). Low-carb theory explained to me why I felt that way around food. This doesn’t mean everyone fat has the same level of issues with insulin as I clearly do (I’m not diabetic, by the way). It also doesn’t mean if we all suddenly went low-carb we’d end up size 4s – I stabilized at 150ish pounds, which is still in the ‘overweight’ category for my height, for what it’s worth. I also totally respect anybody’s right to *not* limit their food choices whether or not those food choices are healthy. I think the insistence on health is pushed insanely. But whenever people snort at those who “cut out an entire food group from their diets and say they’re not dieting” I want to explain that doing that has *freed* me to be able to eat intuitively, to eat to real hunger. I never had real hunger before then because the insulin cues in my body were so screwed up. Since eating this way, quite aside from losing weight, my periods returned to normal from being very irregular – and this happened as soon as I cut carbs, way before I lost the majority of the weight, my triglycerides plummeted, all my blood test results are fantastic, and at the age of 34 with suspected PCOS (i never got tested but had all the symptoms) I conceived quickly and easily – I’m now 24 weeks pregnant. The patches of ugly dark skin around my neck that I’d had since the age of 12 and would not go away, went away. In the course of my research into the link between PCOS and hyperinsulinemia I discovered that dark skin was almost definitely acanthosis nigricans – another sign of hyperinsulinemia – and it went away totally when I started eating low-carb.

    Health is what Gary Taubes is talking about. In fact, since I was already very well read in the principles of low-carb nutrition, the revelations I found in his book were far more to do with simple health than fat. He only addresses ‘weight’ per se in the last third of the book. The first third is about the way diet affects health, and the second third about how the fallacy that fat is bad for us came into acceptance. Only then does he go on to talk about low-carb and addresses the ‘obesity epidemic’ . And as you quoted in the Shakesville piece, his focus on the fact that fat people are not fat because they are greedy etc is a huge boon to FA.

    Taubes would recommend eating low-carb to my 6’1″ 155 pound husband, not just to insulin resistant, prone-to-be-heavy me. Because of its health benefits, not because of weight. He’d recommend it to everyone, irrelevant of how much they weigh.

    I don’t know what his personal stance is on FA but I’d say he is totally sympathetic to fat people and probably sees us as more ‘human’ than any of those who follow the party-line that we’re all greedy, slothful pigs who just need to eat less and exercise more. He’s researched so much he knows that is simply not true. And health is totally his main focus.

    I think everyone should read his book, whatever they decide to do with their eating afterwards. The information he gives is invaluable.

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