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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fat Chance

I was first introduced to the work of Dr. Robert Lustig when he was interviewed for a nutrition course I took on Coursera last year. I was already aware of the dietary evils of sugar, thanks to my sister loaning me her copy of Potatoes, Not Prozac many years ago, so Dr. Lustig's pronouncements against this substance came as no great shock, but I thought he made a clear, compelling and evidence-based case. Later, I watched his 90-minute presentation, which has more than 4 million views on YouTube, and I've read several news stories on his anti-sugar crusade.

So what more could I learn by reading his book? Enough to make it worthwhile to check out from the library. The key point -- sugar is a toxin and likely the primary culprit in the obesity epidemic -- has already been disclosed in the news stories and videos. Fat Chance provides scientific background, practical consumer suggestions, and some public policy recommendations.

The practical suggestions, which will be of the most interest to readers of this blog, are in the shortest section of the book and are general recommendations. This is not a diet book. It doesn't have a 14-day plan or recipes (although a separate cookbook provides those). Dr. Lustig's diet advice resembles what you would get from any certified nutritionist or Michael Pollan: avoid processed food, eat whole fruits and vegetables and foods rich in fiber, and exercise regularly.

At last night's dinner meeting, I resolved on some new personal food rules based on my understanding of Dr. Lustig's book and sound advice from other sources. My new plan:

1. Limit my consumption of sugar, or any food with added fructose, to one day a week.
2. Increase fiber by eating legumes daily, avoiding refined grains, and of course, including vegetables in every meal.
3. Eat an apple a day.
4. Limit alcohol to one glass of red wine a day.
5. Eat all food at the table. If I'm not hungry enough to sit down, I'm not hungry enough to eat.
6. Eat only satisfied, not until full.
7. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
8. Eat fermented food daily -- yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kimchi, etc.
9. Exercise daily. Cardio every day, yoga or stretching every day, and resistance or strength at least three times a week.

This seems reasonable.

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