I recently got hooked on a new Cooking Channel show called “The Food Hospital”. Picture me doing the dishes and watching a “healthy eating” show (I have a little tv by the sink so I can enjoy a little small screen while working through my daily mountain of dishes). I’m yelling at the screen half the time screaming “Add some freaking butter to that and you’ll be on to something!”
Typically the “healthy” food shows drive me crazy because they’re all a bunch of subsidized, PC-nutrition pushing crapshoots (pardon my language). I can pretty much tell you that all the nutrition advice you will get on television will say the same stupid stuff:
- eat tons of fruits and veggies
- eat tons of whole grains
- eat a little lean protein with every meal like white chicken meat or salmon
- eat “healthy” fats like avocados, nuts and olive oil
- avoid red meat and saturated fat
Okay, that advice isn’t necessarily all stupid, but if I got on the show and started saying you should eat butter, lard and grassfed beef to your hearts content and avoid anything with a label, the advertisers would surely get me off the air. They wouldn’t give me the chance to explain that wild salmon has the same nutrient profile as grassfed beef, or that lard and olive oil have almost the same fat molecule profile (unsaturates vs. saturates).
Wow- went on a major tangent there. But what I want to tell you is that this show is actually pretty good. It has great visuals and pretty great information, too. (It’s a British show. I wouldn’t expect as much from Americans because we are so afraid of eating real food. I LOVE America, but we have the food science all wrong.)
I was inspired by this show and decided to report about it here at Real Food Family, then offer my additional comments (or maybe criticisms) and tips based on how I’d handle these types of conditions.
Let’s get started on the first topic…
The first episode featured an obese man with diagnosed fatty liver disease.
From the show:
Obesity connected with Fatty Liver Disease is a 21st century phenomenon that is “most likely induced by carbohydrate-heavy western diets”. Symptoms of fatty liver include tiredness, feeling unwell, abdominal pain under the ribcage (where the liver/gallbladder are). The symptoms are not extreme for this silent killer (besides extra weight and discomfort), but obesity and fatty liver disease can shorten your life significantly and lead to many more symptoms and serious health problems resulting from a malfunctioning liver.
The man on the program reportedly ate five THOUSAND calories per day and weighed 350 pounds. His blood tests showed elevated liver enzymes, which were indicative of a problem.
The show presented a very nifty graphic model to show how too much energy (calories) from food will be converted to fat by liver. This stressed liver can’t complete its other jobs like supporting immunity, detoxifying, managing hormone levels, etc., and serious conditions could arise from a liver unable to handle major problems.
The man was basically told he had to loose weight. He was told to exercise regularly and follow a “GI (Glycemic Index) Diet”.
To explain the glycemic index, the dietician actually did a really cool demonstration. She had 2 sieves and 2 flames. She had a light, Rice Krispies-like cereal in one sieve and a super-fiberous bran cereal in the other. She placed them over the flame and showed how the light cereal burned into a large flame and the fiber cereal just smoked. This was to show how refined carbohydrates burn quickly and do not provide lasting energy. She even discussed how starchy, overcooked potatoes that are “fluffy” like mashed potatoes are “high GI”, but new potatoes cooked al dente are better because your body works harder to break down the carbohydrates (interesting).
Basically the man was given recipe ideas for adding more whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables while eliminating sugar, white bread, rice and refined cereal. In the end the man adopted these food guidelines and added a daily exercise routine to his life and the liver enzymes had changed dramatically over time. Success!
I actually thought this was a great case and they did a good job with this man. I learned a bit more about fatty liver disease and enjoyed almost all of their food and nutrition recommendations.
What they left out (that I would have emphasized with my clients) is that to balance blood sugar and loose excessive amounts of weight you must not only eliminate the refined sugars and carbohydrates but ADD FAT!
I wrote all about how macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) work here, so I won’t repeat myself.
The whole cereal experiment was fantastic but what they should have emphasized is that FAT can offer long-lasting energy, way more than fiber-full cereal, AND it tastes good (hmmmm….butter and cheese or dry bran?).
It is important to understand that fatty liver disease is caused by the liver converting an excess of ENERGY (calories), not necessarily FAT. People often make the mistake of thinking that the fat molecules they eat will turn into body fat. This is just not physiologically true.
What the cereal experiment showed is that the man was eating “cheap” carbohydrates for energy that burned up quickly so he craved more and more of these fast burning calories, adding up to the five thousand per day, which his body stored into fat tissue in the body.
But I say eat FAT for energy. When building a fire you use kindling to get it started and logs to keep it going. If your metabolism is a fire, then carbs are your kindling and fat is your log. If you eat a well balanced meal with lots of fat, you will be sustained well and not need to keep eating more. This kind of meal might be roasted chicken with 2 types of vegetables seasoned with a liberal amount of butter and a dash of sea salt and pepper.
There’s even better news about fat. When it comes from healthy, organic and/or wild sources like wild fish, meat or raw dairy from grass-fed animals, the fat is full of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K- the most important vitamins for immunity, reproduction, cellular regeneration and so much more. That bran-cereal doesn’t even come close to providing the naturally-occurring vitamins that are in top-quality sources of fat.
The bottom line is that FAT from good, organic sources contains a ton of readily available nutrition, will provide lasting energy, will fill you up so you don’t overeat, and, most importantly, tastes good!
So I’ll stick with my low-glycemic diet that is full of delicious meats, raw milk, butter and cheese while the “politically correct” nutrition people munch on their cardboard cereals fortified with synthetic supplements.
If you need extra help losing weight and addressing your individual health needs naturally, you may want to set up a Nutritional Therapy Assessment with me. You can also sign up for my Real Food Weekly Meal Plans, which offer a nutritionally balanced whole food menu to follow every week.
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