Filed under: Culture and Catholicism, Green Catholics, Uncategorized, Vatican II | Tags: carbohydrates, Catholic, Catholic values, culture, Gary Taubes, malnutrition, morality, obesity, Vatican II, war on Christianity, weight loss
Gary Taubes is fighting the power. His books Good Carbs Bad Carbs and Why We Get Fat stand up to a powerful industry of misinformation and corruption. They can afford the hired guns, hackers and snoops capable at least of ruining Taubes’ reputation and making his life miserable. Perhaps worse. Perhaps he thinks of Erin Brockovich when a car pulls up behind him on a lonely road at night. But he probably doesn’t. Instead of following the money, Taubes blames–the Church!
The first chapter of Why We Get Fat is titled “The Original Sin.” It presents the current hypotheses, which Taubes disputes: that we get fat because we eat too many calories related to the calories we burn in exercise, or, in Christian terms, because we’re gluttonous, and lazy. The Original Sin is a falsehood, Taubes says: calories in equals calories out doesn’t match the way the body works. But doctors, family, and friends believe that fat people are fat because it’s their fault. They are sinners! This easy excuse saves the medical profession a lot of work, and Taubes attacks Christianity for our failure to get to the real root of the problem.
The second, corollary (and equally easy) default explanation for the epidemic of obesity and diabetes is that prosperity enables our vice. We earn more money now, and buy too much food with it. Prosperity makes us fat. Either way, there’s not much doctors or anybody else can do about it, since nobody is going to voluntarily give up any prosperity (don’t worry, it’s happening speedily enouogh quite without our input, in any case) except propose expensive stomach stapling with equally expensive monthly maintenence.
There’s little doubt that Gary Taubes has completely trashed the calories in/calories out hypotheses about obesity. Simply by examining the known populations with the greatest obesity correlated with their income, the idea that prosperity makes people fat is negated. Fat people are poor people. Their very thin children will be fat by their teens, if they survive. The fat and the thin are flipped coins of the same malnutrition.
Nor do we stay lean by exercise. If literally calculated, the amount of exercise required to burn a pound of fat exposes the notion that a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for the epidemic. It’s much too great! No one would ever lose a pound. Lab results (a physics lab, not a clinical lab, because that’s where the term calorie belongs, it’s a measure of heat) show that the amount of effort required to burn the calories in just two slices of bread is the equivalent of running up the stairs of a twenty story building. Our skinny ancestors worked hard, but not that hard. Anyway, so do poor, fat diabetic people in the slums of Bombay. They work much harder than we can imagine, yet they are still fat. Exercise alone clearly cannot account for the epidemic. That’s what Taubes says, and he makes sense.
Taubes repeatedly asserts that the obesity epidemic has to do not with the quantity of calories we eat at all, but with the types of foods, because the different types, protein, fat, and carbohydrates, are processed differently by the body. Those calories which promote the release of insulin in the body are the bad guys. It’s the carbs, stupid. Not the calories.
He makes the case easily. One succinct presentation, for the uninitiated, is in a recent petition written by Taubes and signed by some hundreds of professionals and a thousand others and counting, to force the New York Times to stop publishing articles about weight loss that contradict the actual research. The Times keeps publishing new versions of the old calories in/calories out stories, of poignant failures to lose weight on very low calorie, high exercise regimens, followed by sincere gut-wrenching vows to ‘try again’ with the same old unsuccessful treadmill: exercise while wretchedly fatigued from a low calorie diet, ravenously hungry, unaware (and uninformeed by the Times) that research supports the incredibly easier and more effective regime of a high fat, high protein, high calorie, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss. That’s nix on grains and even many fruits, but yes on bacon, and yes on cheeseburgers, too, as long as you skip the bun. Eat all the meat and greens you want, you’ll still lose weight and keep it off. Taubes opens the protocols of the major studies and proves it.
But that’s Heresy! (I told you it was religious!)
What’s that got to do with fighting the power, though? Who is the Power, in this case? Why do the array of industries involved, from healthcare providers to dietitians to writers of advertising, resist the idea that carbs are to blame?
Taubes is wrong when we get to this territory. He wants to blame the Christians, but no, you have to follow the money.
Because carbs are cheap, and they make us sick. What’s not to love, if you happen to be invested in the right stocks.
Those who buy labor can pay less if workers eat a diet based on carbohydrates, that is, on the cheap grains and vegetable oils used in the not-too-distant past only to fatten animals, and not based, as in thousands of previous generations of humans on expensive proteins and fat,s like butter and steak and fish. That is what humans ate in eras past.–right up to the sixties, in fact. This new grain-based diet that justifies lower wages makes us both fat and sick, and those who medicate us to cure us of our poor cheap diets reap the financial benefits. In the case of diabetes, the profits are enormous.
It’s win/win, but not for us. In this chain, we’re the food.
In his eagerness to play on the popular anti-Christian team and use prejudice to dismiss the idea that calories and exercise are the keys to weight loss, and not sugar, Taubes runs into one slight problem in his own research: exercise and moderation of appetite actually do play a role in weight loss. Darn it!
It’s pretty interesting. Exercise ‘enhances’ the process by which fat cells are unpacked when we stop eating sugars. How? Exercise knocks the saran wrap off cells so that the openings in the cell wall are big enough for the fat chains to escape into the blood stream to be burnt as energy when the proper hormonal chemistries are in place. That’s the simple but accurate way to put it.
And, in fact, discipline over appetite plays a role, too. Faced with the choice between a (fattening) cupcake and a (non-fattening) cheese stick, who hasn’t experienced that it takes almost as much willpower to avoid carbohydrates as it takes to avoid eating, period? Sweets are seductive, and they are everywhere.
Gary, I hate to break it to you. Both gluttony and sloth, and their corresponding virtues (also touted by that terrible villain Christianity) of temperance and diligence play a role in weight loss. The research shows it. Too bad, Gary. Ah, but forget about it. They will never let you be one of the boys anyway. Come on over to the Christian side.
Because, Taubes is attacking the wrong religion.
More likely suspects thanpoor Christianity would be vegetarianism and the several religions that practice it, like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Seventh Day Adventists. Thanks to the convenient attacks on Christianity in the West, and the defection of leadership most especially in the Catholic church since Vatican II, the Eastern religions have become very much part of the popular culture as a mildly rebellious compromise to the genuine demands of the True Faith. We seem to love Hinduism especially. Every health ‘expert’ in the ads on the telly now must be a Hindu with a superior smile recommending skinny bliss and great bowel movements through cheap oatmeal.
But these religions are only stalking horses. They’re not putting up the money and reaping the reward. They are being used by much larger forces.
The real culprit is not usually called religion. It is an anti-religion. It pretends to be rational. It is secularism, the modern religion of making-it-up-as-we-go-along and then trading it for a vote or two. Secularism is the religion of opportunity. Those who barter labor for cheaper or dearer, in other words, the rich, buy the writers and the actors and the scientists and the music and pizza for the crowd. You can bet that it is pizza and not steak.
We call their politics democracy, and their official religion is secularism, which teaches first and foremost that all religions are equal (equally expendable–get it?).
It began only as the proposition that all religions are equal. That was the first error, all the rest splintered off from there. Secularism goes on to declare that everything is equal. It’s a money-maker!
But religions start from different premises, and lead to different practical conclusions, and so they cannot be equal. In fact they differ greatly. Some religions insist on the dignity of each individual person, dignity surpassing all things, including profits. Some religions subordinate the individual’s worth to a great variety of conditions, one of which is convenience. President Obama, for example, characterizes the hypothetical individual with which his daughter might someday be pregnant as a “mistake.” His value system allows for that. The value system of Catholicism does not. Both systems cannot be right, since one permits killing that little hypothetical grandchild and the other does not, and dead is dead. Yet secularism insists that they are.
Because of this default assumption beginning in religion and radiating through ethics and standards in the physical sciences, that all things are equal in all cases, or just most things in most cases, it makes sense to us, it just feels right that weight gain should simply be a matter of all the calories we eat balanced against all the burning of them that we do, and any surplus would end up packed into fat cells. All calories must be equal. Because all men are equal. And all religions are equal. And everything is equal. That is our default assumption in secularism. Good luck with over-coming it, Gary!
Some advice: Since you are almost certain to end up a martyr, anyway (sorry, lad, and we’ll pray for you), you ought to come over to the only religion which still asserts a right and a wrong. You too believe in right and wrong, or you wouldn’t be fighting this fight for truth in the weight loss game. So just come and be Catholic. True, the Catholic Church backtracked at Vatican II, but now there are significant numbers that are finally recovering their wits. You have a better chance of convincing them that all calories are not equal.
They also still believe in the virtues, and are taught to resist the vices. That will come in handy when it’s time for the necessary work out, or the rejection of those French fries. And Catholics have some very helpful apps. For the acquisition of the virtues, they don’t rely just on their own strength, they pray for and receive supernatural help in the form of the One Good Carb, the sacred host which is literally transformed into Christ at every mass and which the faithful gratefully receive as food. He strengthens us Catholics.
All calories are not equal, all carbs are not equal, and all religions are not equal. Can’t assert the one without admitting the possibility of the other. Christianity is not the enemy in the fight for truth, secularism is.
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