Dr Kessler and I disagree

I haven’t read his book, but he spoke at the main library on Saturday, and I went to hear what he had to say. So, I do agree on a few things. I think big business manipulates our food to make us crave more, eat more, eat more processed. I think the Standard American Diet of sugar and fat and salt on starch is very unhealthy, and has a lot to do with why we are becoming so obese and diabetic.  That’s where the agreement ends.

He put up a slide with 3 carrots, with partial leaves attached, and a large slice of carrot cake, with white frosting and a orange with green leaves frosting carrot.   He asked how many were drawn to the cake, how many to the carrots.  About 1/3 of the room, me included, was drawn to the carrots.  OK, well it is San Francisco, not too surprising.  He says 70% of obese, 50% of overweight, and maybe 20 or 30% of normal weight (don’t remember exact numbers anymore) are unable to resist the sugar/fat, and will always want to overeat.  The mind-blowing part of this, at least to me, is that he thinks the normal weight people who have this “addiction” are very restrained eaters.  The other 80% of normal weight people would be just as happy to eat all their meals by IV.  Um, excuse me?  I’ve known plenty of normal weight people who eat much much more than a person should.  I pointed out to Dr. about my mom and dad.  My mom eats marginally healthy diety meals, and more than makes up the difference by eating a few ice cream sandwiches, pretzels, etc.  There is no way in hell I am going to believe that if we actually did the numbers, she eats within range of someone like my dad, who gains weight very easily and is a very restrained eater, or me, who also has to be careful.  No way.  I  had a boyfriend who ate 4 burgers for dinner, with 2 orders of fries.  Possibly he did get fat as he got into his 30s and beyond, but Kessler doesn’t seem to believe that there are skinny people who can eat endlessly.  Which likely also means that he doesn’t believe there are overweight people who don’t overeat, at least not anymore.

As for why the French can eat as they do and not get fat (since the food they are known for is supposedly what is causing our problems), it’s because they have structure (says Dr. Kessler).  Snacking is unheard of, people just don’t eat walking down the street, or driving, or at times other than meals, really.  OK, maybe.  But that doesn’t mean that someone like me can’t prefer carrots to carrot cake, or maybe just wants a small bite of carrot cake, maybe only once in a while, and not the whole slice.  There’ s just no middle ground for him.

Suggestions from the audience included raw food diet, food police, vegan diet, hypnosis, other various dead end solutions, and he really had no answers.   Not for the population at large.  Neither do I, but I think one place to start would be to completely revamp our whole relationship with food.  It doesn’t need to be frightening and complex.  I think the FDA and whoever else should endorse fresh fruits and veggies, and more whole foods, less processed crap, less convenience food (both unhealthy and too much packaging), and our farm policies should reflect these values.  Cheap corn and soy and meat aren’t doing us favors.


11 Responses to “Dr Kessler and I disagree”

  1. September 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    While I agree with many of your points, I think expecting the FDA to actually change to reflect this is asking for a miracle. Honestly, if the FDA stepped out of the way, we might be surprised at how our food supply changes. Yes, the manufacturers are producing foods which are designed to make us eat more, but they are also motivated to do this by government programs such as subsidies for farmers that produce crops such as corn. While corn itself isn’t necessarily bad (it is not on my program though), the corn syrup is. There is so much room for analysis and debate on this subject. The real thing to remember is that we are in charge of our bodies. We have to educate ourselves, and our children, to eat properly and have healthy relationship with food.

  2. September 15, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I have read part of his book, but haven’t finished it yet. I think Steve’s thoughts on the FDA are correct. And I personally feel that Dr. Kessler can’t know people’s minds, thoughts, and actual metabolic rates, so to make sweeping statements might be pushing the statistics a bit.

    For me though, I’d like to see changes made from the ground up rather than the top down. People like you who are making good lifestyle changes teach others, and then they share what they learned, and so on and so on.

    I know the lure of cheap, available food is real, but I wonder if the people who exist on fast food and junk really know what it feels like to eat otherwise.

  3. 3 266
    September 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate your understanding!

    I would also like to let you know that I was thrilled you commented on my blog! The support system available in this online community is amazing. Also, I don’t know anything about Dr. Kessler, but from the sounds of your description I think his generalizations were very broad and based more on personal opinion than on any evidence.

  4. September 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    “revamp our relationship with food”: you said it!

    I loved Kessler’s book but I definitely see your point. I would have loved to have seen him speak! That’s really cool that you were able to do that.

  5. September 16, 2009 at 9:43 am

    just like any other book, they are just generalizations. most people need something designed especially for them. their metabolism, their likes/dislikes. i pull things from the plethra of knowledge and cater it to myself. finding what works, what doesn’t. on all the other points in the beginning, i do agree about the FDA and the marketing of foods.

  6. September 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Interesting comments. I do take exception to your statement that the food the French are known for is causing our problems. French food is fine food, thoughtfully and carefully prepared with excellent ingredients. There is nothing better than good butter (rather than margarine made from dozens of chemicals), or fine French cheese (rather than that orange crap called “American” cheese, which is also mostly a mixture of chemicals that do not appear in real food.) The French, like the Italians, tend to eat much smaller portions than Anglo-Saxons (that’s what they call the whole of the English-speaking world) and the quality of the food they eat is much higher than what an average “Anglo-Saxon” eats. I have been to France several times, speak French, and lived in the French part of Canada for 26 years. Believe me, the French have a much healthier attitude towards food and the food they produce is vastly better.

  7. September 17, 2009 at 7:34 am

    In my defense, I mostly agree with you (note the supposedly). I think our attitude about food is awful and getting worse, and much of the food we have available to us is unnecessarily crappy, mostly by overprocessing. I’m not ever planning to give up butter or cheese, though I did give up croissants, and avoid bakery stuff for the most part. Where was I reading the other day, that in an attempt to get kids to eat more fruit, they’re making these little splooge gels, first ingredient, of course, is sugar, not even fruit? This is a good example of what we’re doing wrong, rich whole food in reasonable portions is not.

  8. September 18, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I’m with you–I also know lots of thin people who overeat, and lots of large people who don’t! There are definitely lots of individual variations in metabolisms.

    I found his book a bit disappointing in that his “solutions” were either vague or obvious and not all that helpful. Don’t know if he’s saving that for a second book. And most of the people I hang with already know that processed foods full of fat, sugar, and salt are not our friends.

  9. September 21, 2009 at 11:13 am

    This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read.. ..


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