I feel like I have been living under a rock for the past 15 years when it comes to my well-being and health. I’m a gym-goer, and I am also what I thought was health conscious. I love my strength and conditioning routine at the gym, and I fill my grocery basket with low-fat granola, whole-wheat breads, 1% milk, fruits and veggies, low-fat crackers, low-calorie sports drinks, some fish and chicken.
Do you ever read a book that has been recommended to you not really knowing what to expect – then come to find out it’s a life changer? That is what just happened to me.
Enter Nina Teicholz and her book, The Big Fat Surprise. A friend recommended the book to me a couple of months ago. I couldn’t put it down. Everything I believed to be true about the research of nutrition science, the whole basis for my decisions to eat low-fat foods, and my confidence in the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans were all thoroughly challenged in this book.
The fats that I have been removing from my diet have been replaced by carbohydrates that I don’t need. I believed that low fat foods and even milk were the best options, because the Dietary Guidelines told me so. Why would I question our health guidelines? I believed it to be true, because I thought that there was research that proved it. However, as Nina Teicholz and The Big Fat Surprise revealed to me, all that was wrong.
My eyes were opened to the big money being given by big food companies and corporations to support research favoring their products, –skewing the science in a way that they want it to be skewed. These companies influenced research at top institutions and were cozy, even, with officials our most trusted government institution, the National Institutes of Health. Food companies that favored polyunsaturated vegetable oils funded all the foods in many of the most important clinical trials on these topics. That is a tragedy—because we ended up with science that is not right and not true.
One of the main villains was a scientist named Ancel Keys, who first came up with the accusation that saturated fats cause heart disease, even though he had no well-founded research to prove it. As discussed in in this article in Time Magazine, The Big Fat Surprise exposes how Keys’ research caused Americans to change our views about these foods, mainly because we were desperate for a solution to heart disease. It turns out that following Keys’ advice probably just made our population sicker.
I have come to learn that research should always be challenged. I have also learned that big corporate and authorities can’t always be trusted. Money talks, and it can move and shift the ideals and “facts” that are being given to us to make us think or act in a certain way. That being said, I have change my relationship with food. While I am still a newbie, I am learning. Another great read for you, if you’re new to this like I am, is from The Guardian, which speaks about Teicholz, and other players in the nutrition science game who are changing our way of thinking like Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig. This particular article dials in on the sugar conspiracy. A great read.
These thoughts, this book, this new-found way of thinking have rocked my low-fat world. I’m a changed person because of it. The Big Fat Surprise was a surprise for me, indeed. In just a couple of short months, this book has changed the way I think, the way I eat, and the way I feel. My recommendation to anyone reading this is that if you’re doing something just because an authority told you to, open your mind to learning more about it so that you understand how it is impacting your life. Your world just may get the rocking it needed.