I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time. Why what? Well, that’s the problem. It’s hard to figure out what the question is. And then there’s the answer. That’s even more of a conundrum.
As readers know, I’m not afraid to be honest, even brutally honest. I also don’t mind if I offend someone’s sensibilities…if it’s in a good cause. And I believe passionately that the health and well-being of our nation, even the world, both physically and mentally, is a good cause. It’s worth broadcasting the truth, even if at a cost.
I have put the question in various forms: Why don’t people want to change? Why is it so hard for people to change? Can a person change what one eats, or the way, or when, one eats, at any age? Why don’t people believe that changing what they eat will improve their health? Or if they do, whom do they believe when it comes to what is a “healthy diet”? Why should a person give up their favorite “comfort” foods? What if it’s all been a big fat lie?
As I approach column #500, I’m frustrated. I’m no closer to the answer as to why others can’t/don’t/won’t change than I was when I started. I can only re-tell how I did it and hope that is persuasive and connects with you.
In 2002, as I approached the end of my work life, I weighed 375 pounds and faced a short retirement; Why? I looked around and didn’t see many morbidly obese old people, and those I did see didn’t look to be in good health. I had been a diagnosed Type 2 diabetic for 16 years, was maxed out on 2 oral meds and starting a 3rd. My prospects were that I would soon be injecting insulin. And sooner rather than later I would die of “diabetic complications.”
The common Microvascular ones: 1) end-stage kidney disease with dialysis (nephropathy), 2) being wheelchair bound because of amputation(s) (neuropathy) and 3) blindness (retinopathy). But today, the Macrovascular complications are being recognized as even more common: heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease (“type 3” diabetes) and several cancers. I was scared. I didn’t want a “short retirement.” I was motivated to change.
My doctor thought the best way to treat my Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, was for me to lose weight. He had urged me to do that for many years. All his cajoling – and my attempts – had failed. When I lost weight, following his advice to “eat less and move more,” on a “balanced” diet – I failed. Then, one day, when I walked into his office (at 375 pounds, remember), he said, “Have I got a diet for you!” His timing was perfect.
A few months earlier, in July 2002, my doctor had read, “What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie,” the cover story of The New York Times Sunday magazine. The author, Gary Taubes, proposed an “Alternate Hypothesis” to the “low-fat,” “balanced” diet that mainstream medicine had pushed for sixty years and has made us fatter and sicker.
Taubes, thrice an award-winning science journalist, wrapped up GC-BC with 10 “certain conclusions [that] seem[ed] inescapable” to him. The first 3 follow; the others are in The Nutrition Debate #5, posted here.