Look, there is NO WAY I'm going to touch the third rail and talk politics on my blog, but while checking the newz feed yesterday morning I got zapped anyway. Did any one else notice while watching 'The Debate' that Jeb Bush was looking a lot more svelte? Yeah, me too. And I thought nothing of it until I saw a headline indicating that Jeb Bush was cheating on his 'paleo diet' while at the Iowa State Fair -- record scratch -- huh?
It turns out Bush went 'paleo' in December and has lost around 30 pounds - he had to invest in a new wardrobe (been there - paleo is expensive, from a sartorial standpoint - going from a size 12 to a size 2 it seemed every time I bought a pair of pants I loved, they were too big before I could blink twice). Scrolling through articles I was pretty excited - hey it's like if Oprah went paleo - way to get the word out Jeb! And then -- repeat record scratch -- he says he's "always hungry" and the resounding themes from the articles I browsed were a) this diet is bad for him, b) this diet is unsustainable, and c) there's a lot of talk about him 'cheating'. The record was completely destroyed when I started reading comments from an article in NYT, "Jeb Bush is Definitely, Grumpily Running. . . Away from Calories".
Not surprisingly, I have words to say about this; I'll try to limit myself to a few.
First. While I hate the whole "you're doing it wrong" message, I've got to say, dude, if you're hungry, eat more. The majority of people entering the paleo diet find it much more satiating than their former diet. In fact, this is the hammer many critics use to bash the paleo diet; because it is so satiating, people spontaneously reduce calories and THIS why the diet works for weight loss. To which I say, whatever. If a diet is so satiating that free range humans on said diet spontaneously control their calories without counting or feeling like they're starving themselves, is this not a win? However, we get some hints as to why Bush may be hungry.
I saw reports in a couple of articles about a meeting at an IHOP in Colorado Springs where Bush was presented with pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns - and he didn't eat a bite. Apparently he doesn't know that eggs and bacon are the darlings of the paleo crowd. And this relates back to claim b) this diet isn't sustainable. I'm sure the eggs weren't free-range, and the bacon didn't come from pastured pork, but at some point the perfect paleo is the enemy of the good paleo. Better to eat those factory farmed bacon and eggs now than to be starving and eat something even farther afield later. For a variety of reasons - travel, business meetings, finances, we are often faced with less than perfect food selections. Occasionally the best choice is to skip a meal, or even two. But the majority of the time, you can figure out something to eat - it doesn't always have to be the perfect organic, pastured fair tied with a perfect paleo bow.
Another look behind the curtain as to why Bush may be hungry comes from a reference to his 'monotonous go-to lunch, salad with grilled chicken'. Don't get me wrong, I'm the queen of salads; I love throwing some leaves, vegetables and meat in a bowl - easy peasy - through the weekdays, this is also my go-to lunch (and often, dinner). But these are HEAVY DUTY salads; I use a large bowl, baby kale and baby lettuces (just say no to iceberg lettuce), a variety of vegetables, avocado, kiwi, strawberries - you get the idea. Almonds, sesame seeds, sometimes a little gorgonzola cheese, a generous dollop of extra virgin olive oil and a generous portion of protein (not a few strips of desiccated grilled chicken breast). I have to wonder if Bush is trying to implement a Faileo diet.
A faileo diet, as it is known in the paleosphere, is the low-fat version of the paleo diet; protein goes a long way, but natural dietary fats are your friend. After decades of indoctrination in the low-fat mantra, this is a concept many of us had a hard time kicking to the curb. This MMA fighter, Abe Wagner, tried to implement a faileo diet, and he, umm, failed until he made friends with fat. To quote "Something that didn’t work for me was trying to stay at a 30/30/40 ratio of macro nutrients. Getting 40% of your calories from carbohydrate is A LOT of broccoli and cauliflower when you are as big as I am and eat as much as I do. I was much more successful once I shifted more to about 65/30/15 and started consuming much more fat. I know a lot of people try this diet out for weight loss purposes and that’s fine and good, but I eat this way because it makes me feel better. It lets me perform better. I hate that it’s a given in our society that to eat “healthy” your food has to taste bad and that to lose weight, you had to be hungry all the time. I eat nothing but delicious real food, lots of it. . ."
To get back to a) this diet is bad for him, a couple of articles trotted out the tired old 'saturated fat is the devil'. Look, I thought we had already dealt with that nonsense. Also go here, here and here. Putting the dead horse of saturated fat aside, what, exactly, is so alarming about eating whole, minimally processed food? Jebus wept!
Finally, item c) there's a lot of talk about him 'cheating'. This goes hand-in-hand with the comments section from the NYT article. Would someone let me in on why eating fried twinkies at a state fair makes you look like 'one of the people', an 'average joe', if you will? On the one hand, you have people giving you the side-eye if you don't eat whatever is put in front of you (a couple of articles were happy to point out that the chefs as IHOP got their feeling hurt when Bush didn't eat anything on his plate); on the other hand, you have comments on the NYT article along the lines of, 'I would never vote for Chris Christie because he's too fat' and 'hey, Hillary Clinton is hiding a lot of lbs under those expensive pantsuits'. And then you have the 'move more, eat less/everything in moderation' crowd (the vast majority of which are male and under 30) saying they would never vote for someone who would eat such an 'extreme' diet (again, I ask, what is so alarming about eating whole, minimally processed food?).
A few commenters on the NYT article intelligently pointed out that discussions about diet and nutrition opens the door to discussions about FDA policies and the current use of agra subsidies, so yay on that front. And while there were certainly many comments on the NYT article stating that a candidate's weight/dietary choices were irrelevant, and the only thing that really matters are their policies, I was shocked at the number of comments that equated weight and diet with presidential qualifications. As someone who was a size 2 in my twenties, a size 12 in my thirties, and is currently a size 2 again, I can assure you that my IQ and problem solving abilities are not dependent on my pant size. Heh, who in their right mind would want to be a politician?
Some day, in the near future, a troop of chipmunks is going to march out of the forest and say "Look, we're taking over. We may have brains the size of walnuts, but even we can do better than this!"