Dietetically incorrect after six years

I’ve struggled with my weight ever since I quit smoking thirty-five years ago, going up and down 30 pounds several times. All I can tell you is that it’s a helluva lot easier going up than it is coming down, though you probably already knew that.

Six years ago I picked up on the cues offered occasionally by Glenn Reynolds to the work of science writer Gary Taubes. Glenn had linked to Taubes’s book Why We Get Fat. Taubes recommends a no-carb diet, as some of the popular diet books do, both for reasons of weight control and overall health. I remain grateful to Glenn for sending me Taubes’s way.

I reported on my experience following a low carb/no carb diet after 25 days in “Dietetically incorrect.” I have now been following an unmethodical version of the diet for six years: no sandwiches, no pasta, no pizza, no fruit, no sugar, no desserts. I haven’t eliminated the sugar from salad dressing or the beans from chili, but otherwise have tried to avoid obvious sources of carbohydrates.

I lost about 30 pounds on the diet. I put about five pounds back on when I fell off the wagon under stress for a few months, but have not otherwise suffered the accordion effect so far.

Eliminating desserts from my diet and overcoming the craving for them after meals feels like an accomplishment, but I am also eating substantially less than I did before the diet, without trying. One of the attractions of the diet was that it didn’t depend on reducing portions.

The first 14 days on the diet I felt like I did when I quit smoking 35 years ago. I missed desserts. I craved them after every meal. I was depressed not to be able to look forward to them. After 14 days, however, the cravings vanished, seemingly miraculously.

Based on my own experience, I inferred that sugar is the ultimate carb. The trouble with sugar seemed to me the logical extension of Taubes’s writings on diet. Indeed, that turned out to be Taubes’s destination in the (long) New York Times Magazine article “Is sugar toxic?” and in his most recent book, The Case Against Sugar (2016).

Nick Gillespie now catches up with Taubes in the Reason interview “Meet the man who hated carbs before it was cool” and in the 22-minute video condensing it below. There is a lot of information packed into the video. I thought some readers might find it of interest.

A political thread runs through Taubes’s writings on diet. He shows the government to be the prime purveyor of myths and falsehoods on the subject. Taubes is a sober writer. I don’t think he is ever intentionally humorous. Yet his exposure of the government’s consistently erroneous teachings on diet is almost funny. It’s the dietetic analogue of political incorrectness. Gillespie touches briefly on this element of Taubes’s work in the interview.

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