Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fat Myth #1 - fat people eat junk food all the time

One of society's myths about fat people is that they got that way cramming their maws full of junk food. In particular, they think that we're sitting around eating McDonald's or donuts all day. The truth is that I didn't get fat from any such thing. In fact, even to this day, I rarely eat fast food of any kind and I definitely didn't grow from being a skinny kid to a fat one through such food.

My transition from skinny to fat kid came on the heels of a high refined carbohydrate diet and heavy consumption of full fat milk. We got milk cheaply directly from a local dairy. We took old milk jugs that we'd washed out and they'd fill them up from their vats. The milk was therefore completely unprocessed and so fresh that it was warm. There was no way my family could have purchased low fat milk, which would have to be processed, as cheaply as this full fat milk.

My mother used to make huge vats of mashed potatoes laced with margarine, homemade white bread, cheap store brand macaroni and cheese, noodles with biscuits, etc. We were far too poor to be eating out or having treats all of the time, so this is what got us all fat. In fact, one of the reasons poor people are often fat is that these refined carbs are cheaper than protein and whole grains. I know that's not what the judgmental sorts want to believe, but I have firsthand knowledge of what made me fat, and it wasn't fries, burgers, or Hostess cakes. My mother never bought any of those things.

The thing is that the more of those cheap, white carbs you eat, the hungrier you get. They screw with your blood sugar and insulin levels such that you just want to eat more and more. And my mother never met a meal which she wouldn't overcook for. Every meal for the 4 members of my family had enough carbs for 10 and enough cheap, overcooked meat for 6. That meant that when the blood sugar drop hit, there were plenty of leftovers in the refrigerator to re-carb up on for the rest of the evening. It didn't help that my mother thought that 5:00 pm was dinner time so you had the rest of the night to eat more as you went through waves of carb-induced lows and highs.

One of my favorite snacks as a kid was toasted white bread spread with mashed potatoes. Once when I was very hungry, I went for eating uncooked spaghetti over any type of food in the house. Such was the strength of my carbohydrate cravings that I'd crunch down a stick of spaghetti to feed my need.

So, I'd like to dispel the myth that people get fat on junk food. It often does not start out that way.