Thursday, March 31, 2011

The food pyramid

When I was growing up in the '40s, we didn't have a food pyramid.  We had a food wheel, which my mother had taped up inside a cupboard.  She adhered to it.  It did not demonize fat or meat.  No chunk of the wheel got special attention.  It was divided into meat, fish, dairy, fat and bread, as I recall.  Of course, the only margarine back then was this white stuff in a bag that you had to color yourself, with a little orange pill inside the bag.  It would pop when you squeezed it, and then we would sit and mess with it until all of that horrid stuff was yellow.  It wasn't for us, mind you.  There was no oleo-margarine on the food wheel and there was none in our house.  But my aunt had fallen on hard times, and we used to sit in her kitchen and color her oleo for her.

And if you wanted to lose weight, you cut out pasta, potatoes, bread and beer - and you lost weight!!  Everybody knew what made you fat. 
Then along came Ancel Keys, with his still unproven lipid hypothesis.  Now we have this ridiculous food pyramid, which DOES give special attention to grains, of all things, and only allows for a tiny bit of fat at the tip of the pyramid.

I don't think that many in the medical profession would argue with the fact that insulin resistance is the mother of most modern illnesses.  So what I don't understand is why there is even any argument about this!  What causes insulin resistance?  It ain't fat!  It's carbohydrates, even those being recommended by the government via the food pyramid.  There are NO "healthy carbohydrates."  Every carbohydrate you consume should be considered a treat, not a necessity.  Whole wheat bread is just as bad for you as white bread.  A few berries for a treat is fine, but several apples a day?  Fruit juice in copious amounts?  Recipes for bad health!! 

Here are a few interesting facts.
  1. Archeologists can tell prior to carbon dating bones whether they belonged to a human who lived prior to or after grains were domesticated.  Prior to - NO osteoporosis, NO tooth decay.  Afterward?  Both, as well as skeletons that show that both men and women lost several inches of height after they started eating domesticated grains.  (This was referenced in the book Life Without Bread.)
  2. We cannot live without fat.  If we do not eat it, we will die.  We cannot live without protein.  If we do not eat it, we will die.  If you never consumed one calorie of carbohydrates, you will live just fine - and probably a lot longer.  OUR BODIES DO NOT NEED CARBOHYDRATES!
  3. The percentage of our calories that comes from carbohydrates has increased dramatically since the middle of the 20th century - concurrent with the explosion in our "modern" illnesses such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  Add to that the increases in autism, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia and you can see the recipe for disaster this food pyramid presents.  Take a look at this chart lest you disagree.

I am on a severely restricted diet, called a ketogenic diet, eat very few carbs.  This has enabled me to lose 30 pounds, get off ALL of my prescription medicines, quit taking copious amounts of ibuprofen for joint and muscle pain, and see my triglycerides drop by half.  Oh, and though my total cholesterol went up a bit, my HDL went up way more than the LDL, and my proportion of HDL to LDL is within the normal range.  While I do like to have a little treat now and then such as bittersweet chocolate (just a small square) or a few berries, I fear falling back into the old eating habits so those are rare treats.  Over time, it gets much easier.  The hardest part is dealing with people who feel sorry for me.  They shouldn't - I am healthy, probably healthier than they are.  That is what counts to me.

It is very hard to give up bread and sweets.  But I really don't want to die any time soon, and I KNOW I don't want to walk around with an oxygen tank, or not even be able to walk, or to go to bed in pain every night.  I will be 70 this year.  I am in good shape.  I started adjusting my diet about ten years ago - when I gave up being a vegetarian.  Wish I had started sooner.  You can.  You can start today.  Look at the amount of carbs you eat.  Try cutting them in half and see what happens.  You know, one slice of bread with the sandwich instead of two.  Just one piece of fruit for the whole day.  No more fruit juice or "energy" bars or cookies.  Before you take that bite, ask yourself which you would rather have, the cookie or a healthier you. You can do it - one day at a time!

Oh, one last thing - I don't have headaches anymore.  :)


  1. My husband's grandmother is 83. She is on no medication (other than her multi vitamin) and has no artritis or other ailments. Most mornings when we're on our way to work we see her out in the yard picking up pine cones or some other kind of yard work. She's never gone with any of the "fad" diets, only home cooked good 'ole Southern food! I have never in my life seen such a lively lady! She is my living proof that the old ways of eating, like she's been doing since day one, really is a better way.

    Growing up my mom always cooked real food for us and my brother & I were very healthy kids. Then in my teen years and after I moved out, school and work took over. "Convenience" foods were the norm and my body really started to notice it. I gained weight, my face started breaking out like mad, my cycle was getting off whack, and I didn't feel like doing much.... ever! Realizing now what the problem is/was, my husband and I are incorporating more and more real foods into our lives. It takes time to transition from the ease of throwing something in a pot to really plan out and cook what you're eating, but like you said.... I'd much rather have a healthier me!!

    Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. I'm glad to hear that you are re-learning to eat right! You will not be sorry.

  3. Jenna, I just looked at your profile. So you are doing it right, really getting into homesteading! Let me tell you, chickens are the MOST fun! I just love them, as you can probably tell by reading my posts. More chicken stories than any others.

    If you start with chickens, you will be totally hooked on farm living.