The Case for Kool-Aid

You’d think that every possible book about every possible dietary scapegoat has already been written.  But when you see Gary Taubes promoting his new anti-sugar book, you learn the market for this stuff is insatiable (hey, a pun!), and it’ll just never end.  Ever.  No matter what.  The material is all the same, except for the worsening world obesity statistics, and the new revisionist history chapter appended to the ongoing conspiracy against your health.  The only thing more saturated than our consumption of sugar (it may have peaked in 1999) is the market for anti-sugar books.  My guess is that John Yudkin’s “Pure, White and Deadly” was nothing new in 1972.  I’m pretty sure we’ve even recycled some of the titles a few times already such as “bitter truth”, “sweet poison”, etc.

So Gary Taubes released his “The Case Against Sugar” book on 27 December, and I thought he missed the Christmas market.  Turns out, it was well-timed for the New Year’s resolution market, and he’s been featured in a bunch of health articles lately.  I think he’s come up with the revelation that sugar is literally poison, and even a teaspoon of it in coffee is bad, and perhaps apples may not be healthy.  And while people aren’t exactly taking him seriously, neither are they laughing him off the national nutrition stage.  It’s a game we’ve been playing for the last 15 years.  He makes outrageous and scientifically unsound claims about the metabolism of carbohydrates, and we listen to him rapturously.  (Well, okay, the tide is probably turning against him since his disastrous NuSI metabolic ward experiment, his debate against Alan Aragon, and his recent online debate with Stephan Guyenet.)  At any rate, I’ve learned over the years that a crank is someone who will refute every point made against them, no matter what.  (Ok, Gary Taubes only questions every point made against him, “but how do we know that <insert your fact here>?”.)

So I don’t care what Gary Taubes says anymore.  He used to drive me crazy because I couldn’t see how someone could go around making nonsense claims like Ancel Keys, the 1980 DGAs and carbs, not calories, made us fat.  I thought that no one with a science background would do that, not even for money, not at the cost of such ridicule.  Turns out there’s a set of cranks that do so all day on Twitter.  (@GaryTaubes tweets occasionally, but he doesn’t engage any of his critics.)  I’ve written previously about why people do this kind of thing.  For whatever reason, it’s something they feel very strong (usually outraged) about, and it’s part of their person.  It’s similar to politics.  So, while you may admit fresh cinnamon rolls might taste good, you’ll correctly recognize they’re the root of all evil, etc.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I’m now drinking 2 litres of Kool-Aid every day.  However, I only use about 60g of white, refined sugar, instead of the 225g they recommend per two quarts.  So I only use 1/4 the sugar of the recipe, which is just fine for my adult tastebuds.  And I’m still baking a few loaves of white bread each week, and eating pasta, noodles, and other refined starches.  It works for me, probably because I ride a bicycle, eat low-fat with a lot of vegetables, and get a lot of genetic help.  Still, no one is forcing their “dietary dogma” on me or anything, for chrissakes.

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