ARE AMERICANS TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Todd Rockoff ‏@toddrockoff: So many Americans are so overweight … are they tring to become too big to fail?

Answer:

When I was a kid I used to eat, every day, an entire loaf of Wonder Bread for lunch. I loved it. Then I’d go home and eat two bagels. Then for breakfast I’d eat about 6 bowls of cereal while I waited for two more bagels to be heated up in the oven. I loved bread. Give me a twinkie. Give me two.

And over the years two things happened. Bread as we know it evolved. It became mutant bread. In order to feed a world that has gone from 3 billion people to seven billion people our food has become more and more genetically modified. More and more processed to increase the yield. Nothing wrong with this. This is how the world can survive. Advances in technology have proven the doom and gloom Malthusians of the early 1970s dead wrong. And will continue to do so as the planet becomes more interconnected through both technology, lower trade barriers, less violence (see below book reference) and less corruption.

And yet…

And yet.

Bread, and the wheat it comes from, is worse for your metabolism than ever before.

And one other very horrible thing has happened.

Todd: you and I have become older. I can’t eat two bagels anymore. Even old-school bagels. I can’t eat that foot high Carnegie Deli sandwich anymore. I can’t even eat three meals a day anymore without gaining weight. For awhile I had a physical trainer that I would meet at the gym three days a week. He would take one look at me and tell me what I had for dinner the night before and breakfast that morning. He was that good. He was very funny. He’d go on these vacations and he knew exactly what look he wanted to have and what he needed to work on. If he needed to work on his 8-pack he would do one routine. If he needed his shoulders a little broader he’d eat chicken and lift weights. If he needed more tone in his neck muscles, he’d eat something else and do some other kind of routine. His goal: to look like a god when the girls saw him walking down the street.

He’d get back into town with a camera filled with photos. Photos of the different girls he…. Well. Let’s leave it at “he”. We would spend half that first session after his returns just checking on the photos. One time Claudia interrupted us by surprise and he had to quickly put the camera down and we both felt a little guilty. Claudia was laughing hysterically when I later told her why. “Do guys always do that?” she asked. Yes, Claudia. Yes we do.

I don’t lift weights. Or drink protein shakes. Or eat the just right amount of chicken to make my shoulder chiseled. But I did have to make changes to my diet to avoid becoming overweight, and to even lose pounds once I realized the slippery slide I had already found myself on. And this will continue for the simple good reason that food is genetically evolving and getting more and more processed in order to feed a developing world filled with billions more people. That will continue for the rest of our lifetimes.

But here in America we have to be particularly careful. Because, quietly, 90% of the grocery store is filled with wheat and other carbs. Americans eat carbs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and drink it down with sugar-filled alcohol. And they eat late at night which hurts digestion because it’s harder to digest when you are lying down inert.

I’ll tell you my current diet. Then I have a reading list related to it.

Breakfast: around 10am. I eat oatmeal with nuts crushed up in it (but NOT peanuts) or I’ll eat scrambled eggs. Nothing else. The oatmeal is Gluten free, whole grain steal cut oats. The brand is “Bob’s Red mill”. Mixed with bananas and finely crushed nuts (Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, almonds – all raw). VERY finely crushed.

Lunch/Dinner: around 2-3pm. Usually some sort of vegetable curry or steamed vegetables and some sort of fish. Sometimes I skip the fish (usually sole, perhaps almond-crusted). And that’s it.

Saturday: cheat day. You can eat anything. The reasoning described below.

Here’s a reading list for what I describe above:

Macro issues:

– Abundance, by Stephen Kotler. Describes how food has ALWAYS been genetically modified but now it’s increasing for good reasons in order to feed people through better and better technological improvements.

– The Better Angels of our Nature, by Stephen Pinker. Describes how violence as a percentage of the human race, has declined every century. This foretells an ever-increasing population where more and more adjustments to how food is farmed (and water cleaned) will have to be made.

Food issues:

– Wheat Belly, by William Davis. Describes how bad wheat is for us. Particularly wheat as it is processed today. Essentially recommending a zero wheat diet.

– Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie Mayfield. A bit richer than the diet I described above but what the heck.

(from Paleo Comfort Foods. The banana pancakes use almond flour)

– The Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferris with some adjustments. He recommends a somewhat paleo diet and his book describes why the “cheat day” is important. But I do several adjustments from his recommended diet: I won’t do wine. I won’t do black beans. I eat fruit (the bananas in the oatmeal for instance and sometimes we do other fruits in the oatmeal or during the day). He doesn’t specify what oils he uses when he cooks but we only use coconut oil as opposed to corn oil and vegetable oil. If we use another oil it will be safflower oil. He explains that the “cheat day” is to shock the system. Maybe that’s true. I think it’s to serve as a painful reminder what happens to your body when you succumb to it’s food lusts.

Here’s a link on the benefits of coconut oil.

So Americans are becoming too big to fail, only because we are developing the technology and methods to feed an increasingly hungry and growing planet. But we have to make sure we balance it off by eating healthier while we feed the world.

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