I recently read the book, FAT Chance, by Dr. Robert Lustig, M.D.—pediatric endocrinologist and director of the WATCH program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Talk about a homerun. If you have seen the YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” you have heard Dr. Lustig present on one major negative in our food system—SUGAR. Truly impressive, he was able to keep the attention over 3 million people for 90 minutes talking about carbohydrate metabolism…not your typical entertaining topic. Lustig’s book definitely stems from this YouTube video but also from Lustig’s vast experience with children and the fight against obesity. It is definitely worth purchasing, but here are 3 main messages that I took away from the book:
- A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE. We have been educated that in order to maintain our body weight and energy balance then one calorie taken in through food must be offset by one calorie burned. This calorie could come from any food source—cheesecake, vegetables, cheese, etc. However, Lustig makes it clear that a calorie is not a calorie. We metabolize and use various foods different. For example, one gram of fat is 9 calories but one gram of omega-3 fatty acids is going to be more heart healthy compared to one gram of saturated fat. When it comes to sugar, Lustig emphasizes that our problem is coming from added sugar and fructose… not fiber-rich fruit (fiber being the “antidote” in Lustig’s terminology).
- CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT. The book provides numerous strategies to control your food environment, but check out Lisette’s previous blog on Recognizing Environmental Triggers to help control cravings—especially those sugar cravings.
- A BOTTOM UP MOVEMENT IS NEEDED. Ideally, our environment and food system would be promoting a healthier lifestyle, less sugar consumption and lower exposure to processed foods. We all know this is not necessarily the case. A bottom up movement, coming from us as a whole, is needed in order for our food system to change for the better---feel free to leave comments about this topic. We would love to hear your thoughts!!