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.