The Fate of VB6 Continued – I’m Right or They’re Wrong

October 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

What Do I Know About Eating Bread?

When we last chatted, I told you that I’ve been sticking with the VB6 diet but I had questions.  As I told you, at least I got my Uncle Philips response to these three key questions: how much of a vegan do I need to be; how much crap can I get away with, and do I ever get to stop dieting.  What I did not reveal was a major disagreement between Uncle Philip and I.  A disagreement I have with a huge swath of the American diet-industrial complex.  They say no bread (or rice).  I say no to their no.

I’ve said this again and again, Bittman advertises his plan as remarkably simple. Endure a little tofu during the day, then indulge your T-boneiest craving after six.  It is only in the details, in the six principles of VB6,that you learn that a big secret of his advice is “eat (almost) no junk food.” I talked last week about how much junk one could eat and stay within the confines of “almost no.”  What Id did not much talk about was where I define junk.  See, here’s where things get sticky. On one hand, Bittman offer’s the fully Potter Stewartesque definition that you’ll know junk food when you see it, but on the other hand, what Bittman thinks is junk food may not fully be what you want it to be.  A baguette, pasta? These are in the birthday cake category in VB6.  I’m not buying.

Do you know that salisbury steak was developed in the late 1800′s by a doctor who believed that vegetables and starchy foods produced poisonous substances in the digestive system which were responsible for heart disease, tumors, mental illness and tuberculosis.   High protein diets have been around a long time.  We’ve gone from Dr. Salisbury to Dr. Stillman to Dr. Atkins, each promoting some version of death by carb.  For the most part, the medical establishment has rejected these regimes.  Yet, a funny thing happened somewhere along the rejections.  People noticed.  The appeal of low carb diets emerge again and again for a very good reason.  They work.  Why has been open to debate, but as the debate has opened, a good deal of mainstream diet thought, led by Harvard’s Walter Willet,  has come to believe that maybe there is a something off with grains.  Except Willet and his acolytes, and Bittman would be high on that list, are not Paleo-ists or Atkin-ites.  Eat carbs, just make sure you eat the “right carbs.”

Recently, the food alarmist’s at the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report card on what Americans eat.   They gave us a “C” in grains, and said we need to cut back on all grains [emphasis in the original].  This is advice in tune with various books decrying the evils of wheat as well as the popularity of paleo type diets.   Dr. Andrew Weil, who’s “anti-inflammatory” diet seems otherwise right up my alley states,

Eat more whole grains…These are preferable to whole wheat flour products, which have roughly the same glycemic index as white flour products.

In other words, ditch the bread no matter what shade.   The odd thing, the funny thing, is that so many of these proclamations come from people extolling the “healthy Mediterranean diet” or even the “Asian diet.”  For instance, here’s the Mayo Clinic’s Mediterranean eating plan because, if “you’re looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you.”  The base of the pyramid is

Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

It then states, “Grains in the Mediterranean region are typically whole grain and usually contain very few unhealthy trans fats, and bread is an important part of the diet.” Yeah, but what part of the Mediterranean do they live in?

We should eat like them, yet essentially, ignore the main way they eat.  That is, a world hardly full of whole grain.  My sources tell me it’s not unusual for a Greek table to have white bread and white pasta on it.  The same could be said for Asian diets.  It’s all about, it’s everything about, white rice.  The word for rice is pretty much the word for food in many Asian languages, and when they mean rice they mean white rice.    Fuchsia Dunlop makes the case in her seminal recent book, Every Grain of Rice, that brown rice is better for you than white rice, but she also reports that most Chinese won’t touch it.  Scientists revel in the low rates of chronic diseases in parts of Asia and the Mediterranean.  They work up diet advice based on what they see.  Then they fully ignore what is most there.  Breads, pasta, white rice.

Most telling, they ignore what is plainly in there.  All these people gorging on diets off the glycemic index charts are skinny, no?.  OK, that’s a gross exaggeration, but is it true?  The  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at obesity rates in the world’s richest nations.  To my chagrin, Greece actually has high rates of obesity and overweight rates, but Japan and Korean, the rice-iest nations on the list, are by the far the skinniest nations.  So there.  White rice is not making you fat.

I have no doubt that the fiber provided in whole grains, brown rice, etc. is good for your constitution, and I also believe that much good other nutrients are lost in the milling process (and that the those added through enrichment not nearly as good).  Here’s the thing.  We eat bread and rice and such to make us feel full.  It’s even more than that.  There’s something particularly pleasurable about bread, rice, etc.  It is why we want it.

Here’s some of the meals I ate on VB6:

on bread1

on bread2

on bread3

I could not have done this if I took their advice. Less bread? Who gets full from some cabbage salad or grilled eggplant? It’s the starch with the vegetable that makes it work for the Greeks or the Chinese. Look at these meals. Surely there’s enough fiber and phytonutrients included. If not, eat a piece of fruit. I think that’s the real secret to these diets.  It’s the bread and what goes with it.

In my world of VB6, bread in any form, rice in any shade, are not junk foods.

Coming soon, a surprising turn of events