Have you ever watched a movie, pegged a villain early on, loathed that villain throughout the twists and turns, then came to find out that the villain wasn’t actually the villain? I do it all the time. Dramas are hard for me to dissect until I watch the movie a second or third time.
In my relationship with food, I did the exact same thing. My early pick in the movie of my life for the villain was fat. Early in the drama, I was a calorie counter, not looking much at ingredients, but rather, ensuring that I never exceeded my “recommended” number of calories and fat grams per day. I looked for fat-free or low-fat labels, thinking I could eat so much more of those things since they had fewer calories and grams of fat. I didn’t bother to look at the fact that the removal of fat and calories led the rest of that nutritional content to dramatically increase in sugar and other processed substitutes. I looked for sugar-free options, as well. Sure, the removal of the sugar was good, but what was that food company replacing it with? It was likely another factory-generated substitute that I would never imagine eating if I saw the way it was made.
Then, after a documentary-watching or two, my eyes were opened to the true villain – sugar! It was sugar all along. How could I have missed the fact that the low-fat cereal and the fat-free graham crackers weren’t making me leaner and toner? Those mischievous, little grains!
Sugar, not fat, stores the fat the puffs us all up. Fat doesn’t make us fat. Rather, the crap we are ingesting that substitutes the fats from animal sources is helping us pack on the pounds. The low-fat fruit cups that are a “nutritious, delicious snack” are mixed with juices and syrups that are chockfull of sugar. The packaged items that we are eating are processed – they can last for a LONG time without becoming spoiled. Ever wondered why?
In this article from The Wire, author Nina Teicholz talks about the lie that’s been behind vilifying fat and how its led us to believe that sugar was as innocent as could be, and we should watch this movie of life thinking evil thoughts about fat. It’s quite interesting – many big food companies are involved. There are plenty of cover-ups and evidence laden with ignorance of nutrition science that would have helped us to know that sugar was the culprit all along. It’s pretty frustrating, quite frankly.
Another article in The Independent, there is more on the faulty research that guided the idea that fat was the bad guy. I’m in a better place now that I’ve dissected a little further. I know where we went wrong, as the plot took a lot of twists and turns. I have learned many of the sub-villains, as well, which has helped me to make better choices – whether about what I eat, what food companies I am supporting, or what research and data I believe.
The more new information, research, and data comes out, the more it will be clear how wrong we’ve had it. Fat is not the villain.