October 21, 2011

Because it is empty, and because it is my stomach

How did I become overweight? Oh, there isn't any question, is it? I ate too much!

This is your stomach on high carb.
By the time I was a teenager we weren't eating the meat and vegetables I had grown up eating; we were now too poor.

Ironically, we were eating Food Pyramid years before it came out; because we did what poor people always have done. We "stretched" our expensive meat and vegetables by dicing them up and scattering them through a cheaper base like macaroni or rice.

I would have a serving of such casseroles, along with a glass of lowfat milk. It was lowfat because I would cut our whole milk with nonfat powdered milk to save money. This was one of my periodic duties; mixing the milk at night and letting it sit in the fridge so it didn't taste so horrible.

My mother was trying to feed four growing kids on a low budget. None of us knew she was actually working from the future USDA Food Pyramid: with its small portions of fat and meat and dairy and its huge portions of grains.

Yes, another irony: the famous Food Pyramid could have been shortened to: eat like you're poor. Which can lead to the famous "poverty paradigm." In countries with food shortages, poverty results in overweight mothers, and skinny, stunted, children.

The science writer Gary Taubes, in his book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, points out that this makes no sense:
If we believe the mothers were fat because they ate too much, and we know their children are thin and stunted because they're not getting enough food, we're assuming that the mothers were willing to starve their children so they could overeat. This goes against everything we know about maternal behavior.
I would have my serving of casserole and low fat milk and two hours later I would be screaming-off-the-wall hungry. Fortunately, there wasn't any shortage of milk or casserole; we were not that poor.

So I'd eat again. And again. I would be sobbing with frustration when, late at night, I'd find myself searching the fridge for more, loading up a bowl with cereal and that milk, the cheap bagged cereal that wasn't sugary, it was puffed wheat and puffed rice and sugar from the sugar bowl.

I didn't know that low fat/high carb is the kind of food that simply pours glucose into the blood. If it gets too high, it's deadly poison; so the body responds by flooding with insulin. This hormone yanks the glucose out of the blood and into our fat cells.

When the load is so high, the blood sugar dips too low; and we become ravenously hungry.

Over and over.

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