I suppose the title of this article could be taken in different ways, but today I am writing to anyone who is endeavoring to lose a little weight -- or, perhaps, more than a little. There seem to be a number of myths floating around when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating and I want to look at a couple of them to see if they bear up under scrutiny.
One of the most popular weight loss myths today is the notion that "carbs" are fattening. In fact, "carbs", as popularly understood, have become a dirty word. This wasn't always the case. As a matter of fact, it wasn't all that long ago that "fats" were the bad boys in our diets. Now fats have made a comeback and the latest culprit to undermine our health by making us fat turns out to be carbohydrates.
And while refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar are indisputably detrimental to our health, complex carbs are actually good for us and do contribute to a healthy diet. Unrefined grains, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, and other so-called "starchy vegetables" should have a place at the table when it comes to healthy eating. I would even say that beans are such a superfood that they should probably be eaten, in some form or other, almost every day. Just leave off the fat and sugar and go light on the salt.
Starchy vegetables should not be loaded down with butter or oil or sugar when preparing dishes. Otherwise, they will lead to weight gain. Besides, most of them taste just fine without a lot of dressing up with fattening additives. I love a fresh ear of corn on the cob. I think it tastes great without butter or salt. The same can be said of a baked potato. You see, part of the problem we run into sometimes is we train our taste buds so that nothing tastes good without added salt or butter or sugar. And these three, salt, butter (oils) and sugar are the worst possible enemies of our health and our ability to maintain a healthy weight.
But wait! Isn't that heresy? Isn't butter now a health food? Isn't using butter better for you than using margarine? Well, I would maintain that even if butter is better for you than margarine (which is a totally man-made concoction), it doesn't make butter healthy to eat. I believe that all refined fats are unhealthy, it's just that some are less unhealthy. So if oils or fats have to be used in cooking, go for the least unhealthy oil you can find. I'm not minded to recommend a given source of oil or fat, but I would tend to keep it as natural as possible. The less refined an oil is, the better, in my opinion. And I am not saying to never use oil. I am saying that if you are having salad and are in the habit of adding olive oil to your salad, that's fine, but don't think you have made your salad more healthy by adding the olive oil because you haven't.
We have whole groups of people who have literally abandoned most carbohydrates in order to run after eating sausage, bacon, butter and other processed and unprocessed meats because they believe it is a healthier way to eat. This is the worst kind of folly and, even if there are some short-term wins, eating a high protein diet is not good for anyone in the long term. The marketing of high protein, animal-based diets is a study in hypocrisy and greed. It began with the Atkins Diet and has continued through the Zone and South Beach Diets all the way up to what is now known as the Paleo Diet. But the common denominator always comes down to profits over good science. Not to mention, they are easier to adhere to.
Google "Blue Zones" and see what the longest-lived people around the world eat. Go to Asia and see how many rice-eating people you see who are obese. Go to Africa and see how many corn-eating obese people you can find there.
I have heart disease, but I can tell you plainly that I have never had an issue with my heart when I was eating mostly vegetables and fruits with small amounts of meat. And that would include starchy vegetables. The times I have had trouble with my heart were all times I was eating the Standard American Diet which is high in animal protein, refined carbs, fat, sugar and salt. And no one loves salt more than I do.
As far as not being able to outrun your mouth goes, I read an interesting study the other day where they found that climbing 74 flights of stairs burns as many calories as you can find in 2.78 Oreo cookies. You simply can't outrun that sort of thing. I tend to think it is better to not eat the extra calories than to think we can always go out and exercise them off. Besides, sometimes our bodies need a break from the constant work of digestion.
Sam Byrnes is a Gentry-area resident and contributor to the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at email@example.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 09/05/2018
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