Fat or Sugar – Sugar or Fat

Dr. David Katz, one of my favorite nutrition and lifestyle advocates, wrote another of his famously common- sensical editorials on Forbes.com last week titled The Problem With Promoting Low Carb Diets. He was writing in response, partly, to the “news” that the “sugar industry” conspired to place the blame for heart disease on saturated fat, but Dr. Katz can always spin his messages around some sort of dietary “news” because there is always another dietary revelation that gets reported as “news.”

And, his message is always virtually the same – “…..there is the simple fact that dietary patterns reliably associated with good health outcomes across (different) study methods, global populations and decades are high neither in sugar nor in saturated fat. They are, instead, high in wholesome foods, mostly plants–every time. Our failure to embrace this simple, robust and empowering proposition once and for all is at our perennial peril. It consigns us to endless repetitions of the same basic follies in a sequence of directions (i.e., just cut fat, just cut carbs, just cut sugar, just cut gluten, repeat).” For the scientific minded, you can read Dr. Katz’s foundational ideas about “diet wars” here.

My related message would be that “we” tend to make healthy eating more difficult and more complex by constantly looking for (or falling for) the magic diet that seems easy and simple. For instance, managing carbohydrates in our diet when we have diabetes makes sense – cutting any and all carbohydrates makes less sense (and turns out to be very difficult) – cutting whole grains, apples and potatoes while keeping cookies and energy drinks makes no sense at all. Katz says, “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.” I say, look at choosemyplate.gov.

Fully ¾ of the MyPlate representation of a healthy diet from the US Department of Agriculture is food from plants – whole grains, fruits and vegetables. With diabetes, we can manage the carbs in grains, fruit and starchy vegetables by adding more nonstarchy vegetables and by understanding carbohydrate portion sizes. Give simple regular, simple healthy eating a try – the answer has always been right there.

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