Meatless, Fruitless Mondays

Many of the dietary solutions we propose miss the point. Time to realize that we are a nation that is dying of a sugar problem.

Cue the gorilla in the room. Can you please start roaring and waving your arms? What's that you say? Despite a killing rampage, still no one notices you?

Attention America.

You are dying of diabesity. You are living in a country where 46% of the adult population has some form of impaired sugar metabolism--either pre-diabetes or diabetes itself. Let me shout this. FORTY SIX PERCENT!!!! Adult diabetes is a disease that develops most commonly when people get overfat. Once it happens, it is a disease that revolves around sugar. It is a disease in which insulin, the master hormone that controls sugar in the blood, is not working properly. As a result, too much sugar is made into fat and/or sugar levels get too high in the bloodstream. This problem wreaks havoc and destruction throughout the body.

Our bodies are fastidious about controlling the amount of each and every element that floats within our blood vessels. Sugar is no exception. In the 5 quarts of blood we possess, our blood vessels are allowed to carry one teaspoon of sugar. When we eat foods that turn into sugar after digestion (sugars themselves or starches), untold teaspoons of sugar flood into the bloodstream. If insulin is not working properly, we are in big trouble. And believe me, we are in trouble.

For some reason, our insulin systems are struggling and failing. Could it be something we breathe, something we ingest, something we are exposed to? Or could it simply be the fact that we overtax the sugar system so hugely and so routinely that it eventually quits on us? Either way, we are sugar sick.

Not meat sick.

Last week, a debate arose around a Los Angeles City Council proposal advocating Meatless Mondays in L.A. The usual positions were taken. On one side, those who think that giving up meat is the key to health cheered, on the other, those who are outraged at any suggestion that government might intervene in food choice complained.

While I don't advocate the eating of meat that is poorly raised or stuffed with grain, I don't think that meat is our primary problem. But in this, I do agree. Government should not be making dietary pronouncements without fully exploring their truthfulness and utility.

What do we do when we suggest that people eat less animal protein? For the vast majority of people, we tilt them toward an increased carbohydrate intake by allowing them to substitue pastas and grains. And, lest we forget, this is a country that is sick to death as a result of the sugars that are produced by these foods.

If we are to make a suggestion, why not promote Low-Carb Wednesdays--one day a week that we vow not to eat sugars or starches other than vegetables and fruits? Why not, indeed? Because carbs remain the third rail of dietary politics. Suggestions that people limit the foods that addict them most and kill them most readily invites prosecution for dietary overreach and heresy. Forgo steak for a day? No big deal. Breadless Tuesdays? Forget about it.

The howls that are raised when decreasing carbs is suggested have been enough to drown out the bellowing of the gorilla in the room. But with ever-increasing rates of death and disability from our growing sugar problem, it's time to quiet down and listen to the frightening sound that really should be keeping us up at night.


Barbara Berkeley, MD is Medical Director of Weight Management for LakeHealth Hospital System. Read more about weight and maintenance on her blog at www.refusetoregain.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dave Cunix November 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I went low-carb in 2003 and lost a significant amount of weight. I've maintained this wieght by retaining the low-carb diet. It wasn't too hard and sure beat the alternative of high blood pressure and diabetes. It is not the solution for everyone, but it sure would work for many.
bill November 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
To say we're "not meat sick" flies in the face of an entirely different, huge issue (heart disease, diabetes etc ...) I know you're trying to make a point about sugar but don't do it at the expense of suggesting it's OK to consume (presumably) conventional low-grade and large quantities of meat. It's misinformation and a grave injustice to people's health and perception of animal protein. Point is, people need to eat less processed foods AND less meat for optimum health.
bill November 19, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I did see that the author does not condone poorly raised, grain-fed meat. But the average person does not consider themselves wealthy enough or know where to get high-quality, organic, grass-fed, no cage meat. So I just hate to tell people that meat isn't the problem when the issue is a combination of deadly components.


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