Am I too thin?

While studies like the new NHANES analysis published in Lancet (discussed here in MedPage Today) lament the explosion of obesity, predicting that 50% of adults will be obese by 2030 (meaning BMI greater than 30), the conversation I have in my office more and more is:

“Am I too thin?”

My answer: “No, Cynthia, you are not too thin. You are normal, you are just right, and you look great. The problem is that your neighbors, family, and friends are all fat. You just look too thin compared to all the fat people around you. If this was 1951, you would fit in just perfectly with all the thin people. It’s everybody else who wouldn’t fit in because they’re too fat.”

The national advice to eat more “healthy whole grains” has created an obesity crisis of epic proportions. I’m sure as this study gets publicity, the USDA’s response will be something like “Americans need to get more exercise, cut their calories and fatty foods, and eat more healthy whole grains.”

So bask in your thinness and ignore the misguided or jealous comments. Don’t say it out loud, just say to yourself the next time somebody asks whether you’re sick or says you’re too thin: “No, I’m normal; you’re fat,” and simply go on not eating “healthy whole grains.”

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Greg

    I just found your blog and am looking forward to getting your book.
    I am on a low dose statin and would like to get off of it – maybe your book could help. I also get totally confused on the saturated fat debate – butter ( grass-fed vs regular) vs margarine (tran fat free better?) – now Bill Clinton and his physicians are saying vegan is the way to go and can reverse heart problems- what is the average person suppose to believe?

    • Hi, Greg–
      Elimination of wheat along with a general reduction in carbohydrates reduces plaque-causing particles dramatically. However, it may or may not be reflected in the crude calculated–not measured, calculated–LDL cholesterol your doctor uses to justify statin drug prescription.

      However, if you do the REAL test, i.e., lipoprotein testing, then you will dramatic reductions in small LDL, the real particle underlying heart disease causation. Most people do NOT need a statin drug to reduce or eliminate this particle.

    • In a nutshell: LDL is the fat-and-protein (lipoprotein) molecule that transports cholesterol from the liver out into the body. HDL is the lipoprotein molecule that transports cholesterol from every other place in the body back to the liver. Most of the time, medical professionals and other health “experts” discuss cholesterol transport in terms of the substance being taken to and from the arteries. In fact, we are discussing the transport of cholesterol to and from every single cell in the body. While every cell is capable of synthesizing some cholesterol, most cell types need to intake cholesterol from the bloodstream as well.

      What for? Well, for one thing, cholesterol is an important component of the cell membrane. This is the outer surface of the cell that functions as a permeable (holey) barrier preventing all the cell contents from spilling out. A human cell membrane is supposed to have a certain level of flexibility and also a certain level of stiffness. Not only cholesterol but also saturated fat play important roles in ensuring those proper levels of stiffness and flexibility.

      I have heard it said, and I believe this to be true, that when a person adopts a diet that is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the reason their total cholesterol drops is because their cells no longer have adequate saturated fat to maintain the membrane and must import more cholesterol to do the same job. Unfortunately, cell membrane integrity is not cholesterol’s only job. It’s also necessary for the production of vitamin D, the creation of the steroid hormones and the maintenance of proper brain health, among many other functions. I don’t think it’s an accident that as we’ve got less and less saturated fat in our diets, we’re seeing more infertility, more vitamin D deficiency and more mental illness. There’s not enough cholesterol available for it to do all the jobs it needs to do and do them well. But hey, at least we’re not dead.

      People are confused as to which is the proper dietary template because they are not literate in human biology. And there are so many vested interests in keeping us ignorant on this particular subject that I doubt the situation will be rectified any time soon.

      All i can suggest is that you experiment on yourself and see what works.

  2. Amy

    Are spelt or Kamut flours a better option for the VERY occasional homemade sourdough loaf? I understand the gluten and other normal wheat problems are there, but I’m speaking in terms of avoiding modern day, hybrid wheat. Or is there really no difference at all?

    • Hi, Amy–
      My experience has been that people who consume wheat relatives like kamut or spelt compromise their wheat-free results. Celiac people, of course, should have none whatsoever. The problem is that these wheat-related grains share many of the same properties as modern semidwarf Triticum aestivum, though at a less intense level since they lack the unique gliadin sequences of modern wheat.

  3. knepper

    Dr. Davis,
    I enjoy your blog. I have lost about 50 pounds doing a mostly low carb (no sugar, few starches) diet, but the last 25 pounds don’t want to come off. I have been having a sandwich made with Ezekiel bread every day for lunch, thinking that the low gycemic index made it OK. But from what you say, I am guessing that it is not so good after all. Could this be the culprit in why I haven’t lost the rest of the weight?

    • Hi, Knep–

      Sad to say, wheat is wheat. You could dress it up, put makeup on it, teach it to smile, etc., it’s all the same. Sprouted or no, it still generates much the same effects.

    • It wouldn’t matter even if sprouting the seeds made a difference because Food For Life adds wheat gluten to their Ezekiel bread, and probably all the other varieties too. Read the ingredients list when you get a chance. I believe this is a recent development as of the past five years or so and I’ve heard some grumbling about it in the blogosphere.

      Personally I have felt better eating this type of bread than the store-bought breads I ate in my high-carb days, but if someone’s gluten-sensitive (and that’s probably most of us), the stuff won’t do them any good. FFL erased any benefit of the sprouted grain by adding the gluten.

  4. Samantha Moore

    I have been wheat free for nearly two years. Occasionally, when I haven’t seen someone for a while, when I meet them again, they say “you’re getting smaller!”, or “you’re shrinking!” or something like that. I am NOT TOO THIN! I have decided that if someone tells me I am getting smaller, I am going to tell them they are getting bigger. BTW, everyone who says that to me looks fat.

    • Yup, Samantha: That is precisely my experience, also.

      Stay strong! It works, but the message is entirely “against-the-grain” of popular perception.

  5. Kat

    Is buckwheat the same as wheat? I’ve seen many gluten free people advocating for buckwheat.

    • Hi, Kat–

      No, buckwheat is far more benign than wheat. However, it is a carbohydrate with all the potential issues associated with them, including diabetes and arthritis.

      One of the issues I will need to discuss in future is how to decide where your “carbohydrate tolerance” lies. Stay tuned!

  6. I have RA and have had it for over 12 years, have GERD, etc and do have the belly fat and overweight. Wondering if this might be finally the correct diet for me?