Call the neighbors wake the kids, if you eat better you are healthier

Updated 12.8.2015
Americans may finally be changing their eating habits. The result is that Americans may be living longer. That qualifiers is in the article itself, it's not commentary on my part. An alternative explanation could be the effect of eliminating transfats from the food supply (in other words from processed foods, which is where transfats are principally found), and the effect (less heart disease and even cancers) reflects that.

On the positive side, over time, Americans ate more fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes and polyunsaturated fatty acids, Wang said. They also ate less trans fats, sugar-sweetened beverages and juice, and red and processed meat. But the intake of salt actually went up.The researchers extrapolated their findings and estimated that the improvement in diets prevented over one million premature deaths and lowered heart disease cases by almost 9 percent, type 2 diabetes cases by nearly 13 percent and cancer cases by just over 1 percent.

Before getting too excited though, the reported health improvements resulted from extrapolations of the survey results— in other words, the researchers took a guess at what the long term effects would be. Not that I'm against healthy eating, I advocate strongly for it. However, extrapolated results are not evidence of benefit.

The effect of NEAT as measured in the 1950s

They didn't call it non exercise activity thermogenesis, but that's what's defining the so-called "sweet zone" in the research discussed in this post. People exercising rigorously and often tend to eat more than sedentary people. However, people who are moderately active (in this case defined as walking about 7000 steps a day) did not spur their appetite. In fact, that group at less than the fattest and most sedentary group did.

In other words, it's the calories

For those whose income relies on proselytizing the low carb diet, it's important that low carb eating be the answer for every kind of ailment. And losing weight via calorie restriction using low carb eating can reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). But as the same link makes clear, losing weight via calorie restriction using low fat eating also works. What matters is that the person with NAFLD lose weight and therefor fat stored in his liver, by whatever diet or way of eating that he can adhere to. ADHERENCE is what matters in diet— any diet.

If eating gobs of fat turns your stomach, then no amount of hurrahing from low carbers is going to make eating low carb palatable for the long term. Likewise, if you hate eating low fat meals, the reverse is true. I've lost about 30 pounds (post menopause) because I found a way to eat that lets me eat what I like and be satisfied on a lower total of calories. Because the energy balance ALWAYS holds. If you want to be a smaller sized human you must eat less. And since no one can live a life of denial for the long term, it's imperative that you find a way to eat fewer calories and be satisfied. Moving more (especially adding NEAT to your day) helps, but there is no denying the fact that to be smaller you need to eat less.

I find maintaining my weight loss easily because I don't diet. I realized that to be a smaller human I needed to shift my energy balance, by both moving more AND eating less. Since the goal was to live the rest of my life as a smaller human, the changes that I made had to be easily sustainable. That means no "80:20" thinking or "planned cheats" to the way of eating. Either it was a way I could eat and be happy for the rest of my life, or I had to find something else to do.

Reading through low carb, low fat, paleo, or vegan sites and realizing how many people simply find it intolerable to eat that way long term (even those who claim to be community "leaders") for me is evidence that artificial restrictions of any kind are ridiculous and doomed to failure most of the time. It may be possible to swear off bread or bacon for the short term, but in the end, life is too short to live in unnecessary denial. One further note on veganism: I realize for many veganism isn't just an issue of diet, it's a philosophy and moral choice. However, my usage is solely in the diet sense. It is possible to eat a vegan diet without being a moral vegan. It may be rare, but it's not impossible.


One Mom in the Middle…
of parenting… of her career… of life…
Eat better, move moderately, and live better for longer.

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