Why would I be looking to find out if there are studies or research that indicate any danger of staying in ketosis for extensive periods of time (even forever)? The more I read Gary Taubes’ book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” the more convinced I become that there are many, many evils out there in nutritionland, as well as tremendous goods. The more convinced I become that finding low carb, even as late in our lives as we did (post 50), was the best damned thing that ever happened to my wife and me, and for WAY more reasons than our weight. She’s got a physiology that allows her to maintain her weight even with minor occasional fluctuations in diet, but I don’t. Being in induction again, and reading Taubes’ book (even though I’m only one fourth through it at this point), I’m starting to realize that it isn’t just about losing weight and then upping the “good” carbs bit by bit while keeping your goal, as Dr. Atkins prescribed. What we put in our mouths goes so far beyond taste and satiety. Dr. Eades’ article touches on just one tiny puzzle piece in the amazing story of our biology.
The human body is a homeostatic machine; change something in one area, and the machine will attempt to reach equilibrium by changing something else. The changes can be beneficial, as in reducing girth by utilizing stored fat for energy, or by cleansing the body of waste products and allowing us to slow the effects of aging. They can also be deadly.
On Friday, one of the girls where I work brought in two big pies she’d baked for “breakfast day,” one cherry, the other apple. (My well-meaning friend, who’d been doing Atkins at the same time I was in 2003, failed on the diet shortly after starting because she could not live the plan and now has a much larger belly than she did several years ago.) All the other co-workers eagerly lined up and carved away at the pies, giddily chowing down. Now, I have to say that having been raised by a woman who baked just about everything we ate daily when I was a lad, I was THE refined carbohydrate poster boy. Had to wear “Husky” sized trousers as they called them then, you can imagine the rest. Anyway, put a cherry pie in front of me and you’d better get out of the way for your own safety. Friday, I walked past the counter holding the pies; the apple was already devoured, but there sat the cherry, oozing gooey, deep red fruit out of its open wound. I could taste the sweetness in my mind; all the wonderful memories of flavor were there, tempting me.
But as I regarded the pie, all I saw was poison. Like the evil witch who gave a poisoned apple to Snow White in the fairy tale, my friend had, however without malice, given poison to her fellows. I walked past cubicles where people were still happily eating slices of pie and thought they might as well be in Jonestown drinking Kool-Aid. At least those misguided morons knew the consequences of what they were doing.
I’ve talked before about gaining a healthy fear of carbohydrates when I first discovered Atkins, a fear I forgot about when I backslid last year. I believe fear is the prime motivator in many human actions. Do I not exceed the speed limit because I believe it to be the right thing to do, or rather because I fear getting a traffic ticket? Did I quit smoking because it was a filthy habit that cost a lot of money, or because I was afraid of contracting and dying from cancer?
The healthy fear of carbohydrates that I developed in 2003 was enough to keep me from regarding the foods that I used to consider pleasurable as anything more than troublemakers in my weight-loss and weight maintenance progress. The new level to which my fear has grown continues to increase with each passing day and each new facet of nutritional biology about which I become aware.
As with most issues of choice, there are usually some kinds of benefit associated with our actions as well. Fear may be a motivator for action, but it need not come without reward. For example, I haven’t smoked for 24 years, and therefore my clothes and breath don’t smell, I don’t hack phlegm in the morning, and I have a lot more money in my wallet every week. This, all on top of what I hope will be a long, cancer-free life, at least as a result of abstaining from tobacco.
So it is with nutrition: while I have a healthy fear of the consequences of eating a diet containing more carbohydrates than I need to maintain my body’s equilibrium, I am reaping the rewards that elude so many of our misinformed peers. In an attempt to reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease, they eat what manufacturers of convenience foods describe as “heart healthy,” though there is no scientific evidence that attests to that claim, rather, there is sufficient evidence to show just the opposite. They follow the government’s nutritional guidelines; they listen to their doctors and take prescribed medicines to reduce their blood pressure and cholesterol; they consume little fat and less red meat; they eat whole grains and “strive for five” servings of fruits and vegetables without regard for the amount of carbohydrates in those foods. And in doing all this, they are consuming poisoned apples. They are unwittingly proceeding at breakneck speed down the very path they think they are avoiding.
Meanwhile, I am having eggs and bacon or sausage each morning, whereas these peers of ours continue to cling to the belief that most of us had no choice but to accept years ago, that there is something inherently wrong with these foods. “Too much cholesterol in eggs, too much fat and sodium in bacon.” I just found out a few days ago that they both are rich in the same elements that make olive oil one of the top recommended food items today. I have been eating delicious prosciutto of late, without regard to how lean it “should” be. My favorite steak is Porterhouse, and I like a nice amount of fat on that, thank you. No baked potato, but bring me the sour cream and butter. Cheese is one of my best friends, and there are plenty of varieties and versions that make it a “candy store” for low carbers. How often am I hungry eating this way? Hardly ever. Do I ever feel “stuffed” after a meal, as I used to so often on high carbs? Never; instead, I feel satisfied.
Do yourself and your loved ones a favor: if you don’t already have a copy of Gary Taubes’ book, buy one (you can even get an electronic version for your PDA at ereader.com) or take it out at the library and read it. Learn why just about everything we’ve been told by our doctors, by our governments, by the media, by the food industry about what we should be eating and what we should be avoiding is WRONG. Learn how innocent incorrect hypotheses became snowballs rolling down a mountain and after half a century wound up creating a world of obese, diabetic, chronically sick people who continue to unintentionally commit nutritional suicide.
Please don’t be one of those people. Develop a fear of poison apples.