Thursday, January 26, 2012


To your eggs: A third of a cup of chopped onion and a clove of garlic will add
1 gram of fiber to a couple of scrambled eggs.
To your sandwich: Hate whole wheat? Go with rye. Like wheat, it has 2 grams
of fiber per slice. That’s more than twice the amount of fiber in white.
To your dinner: Have a sweet potato. It has 2 grams more fiber than a typical
Idaho potato.
To your cereal: Half a cup of raspberries adds 4 grams of fiber.
To your snack: Eat trail mix. Half a cup of Raisin Bran, 1 ounce of mixed nuts,
and five dried apricot halves give you almost 7 grams of fiber.
has risen 15 percent in the past 10 years.) Like today’s low-carb
craze, the low-fat craze originally appears to work because it creates
a restrictive eating program that eliminates certain foods
and, hence, a certain number of calories. If you suddenly have to
cut out countless steaks, baked goods, slabs of butter, nuts, dairy
products, and desserts, presto, you lose weight.
But, as with carbohydrates, our bodies crave fat. Fatty foods
(beef, fish, and dairy products, for instance) are usually high in
muscle-building proteins and supply critical vitamins and minerals
(the vitamin E in nuts and oils, the calcium in cheese and
yogurt). So you can go on a low-fat diet for only so long before you
wind up facedown in a pint of Chunky Monkey. That’s the way
Mother Nature planned it.
What she didn’t plan for, however, was the craftiness of food
marketers. Knowing that low-fat dieters are secretly pining for
the old days when a nice slice of cake and a scoop of ice cream
ended every celebratory meal, grocery manufacturers go into the
laboratory and come out with hundreds of new low-fat foods. And
that leads to what should go down in history as The Great Snack-
Well’s Debacle.
Nabisco conceives SnackWell’s as the ultimate answer to the
low-fat diet craze. SnackWell’s, which you can still find on grocery
shelves today, are fat-free and low-fat cookies that somehow carry
nearly all the flavor of full-fat cookies. The secret is that Nabisco
loads up the cookies with extra sugar (except in the sugar-free varieties),
so consumers can indulge their sweet tooth without ever
missing the fat. How this development plays out in the mind of the
average consumer is simple to predict:
“All I have to do to lose weight is to cut out fat.”
“Yo! These cookies have no fat. Let’s buy two packages!”
“Honey, did you eat that second package of cookies for
breakfast? I wanted it!”
S H O C K E R : H OW L OW- C A R B D I E TS M A K E YO U FA T 91
The magic bullet doesn’t work, in part because we need to eat
fats and in part because we’ve been fooled into thinking that we
can eat whatever we want, in whatever quantity we want, as long
as we aren’t eating fat. So we scarf down sugar calories by the
spoonful—and we all get just a little bit fatter in the process.
Okay, hop out of the time machine—trip’s over. It’s a decade
later and, instead of a low-fat craze, America is caught up in the
throes of a low-carb craze. And the same scenario is playing out
all over again. Every grocery store and corner deli is filled with
products—particularly “meal replacement” bars—that are marketed
with bywords like low-carb or carb smart.
Suddenly, it’s not hard to eat low-carb anymore. Today—and
increasingly more so tomorrow—we can fill our shopping carts
with all the foods we cut out for the past couple of years. Food
marketers are altering the makeups of their products, packing
them with soy protein and fiber and sugar alcohols—all ingredients
that lower the “net carb” impact of the food. Now, I’m all for
more protein and fiber. Sugar alcohol, on the other hand, is nothing
but empty calories that, in elevated quantities, cause gastric distress
and flatulence—but hey, whatever turns you on.
What I am against is the notion that marketers are peddling—
that we can eat whatever and whenever we want, as long as we’re
not eating carbs. It is exactly the same trap we fell into 10 years
ago: a restrictive diet that offers short-term success, turned into
a food craze that guarantees even greater health risks and higher
obesity rates.
And that’s a time travel destination no one wants to arrive at.

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