For my recent birthday, my daughter gave me a copy of Gary Taubes' new book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.
There are people who would be insulted to receive a book with that title. Not me.
I've spent most of my life in the "grossly obese" category, with occasional trips to the "morbidly obese" world.
I've made it 52 years without a heart attack, stroke or other bad things that come with obesity. But I recognize that I'm a ticking time bomb. I'm looking for some help.
If you count up my time in weight loss programs, I am far ahead of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan's total trips to rehab, combined.
Some years I gain, some years I lose, but I ultimately come back to the same category.
As Taubes noted, some people are just suckers for diet books. I am one of them. I've read them all and still get fatter. I've gotten pretty jaded. Only my daughter's enthusiasm got me interested in Why We Get Fat.
I'm glad I read it. It is ground-breaking in that it goes against the conventional wisdom of counting calories, semi-starvation diets, exercising like crazy and focusing on a fat-free diet.
He makes a point that really hits home. In our parents' and grandparents' days, dieting meant that you cut out deserts, breads and potatoes.
In other words, you went on a low carb diet. He gives the history of how we went away from low carb and made the switch to low fat in the 1960's, with disastrous results.
We are far fatter and unhealthier than we have ever been.
Taubes stresses the control of insulin, not the control of calories, as the concept to focus on.
People who are diabetic or pre-diabetic understand this well. Going to a low carb diet is an effective way to battle the disease.
Taubes makes a case for why the idea of a "low fat" diet doesn't work. He notes that the concept didn't exist until the 1960's and it was the work of one devoted and well- connected medical researcher that made low fat a universally accepted principle.
Even more controversial, Taubes doesn't see exercise an effective way to lose weight.
Taubes is not a medical professional, but a well respected science writer.
I run into people at all time who are looking for the latest gimmick to make money. Day trading stocks, flipping houses and subprime mortgages all stem from people wanting to take shortcuts to get to the top.
Just like all of us who try gimmick diets.
Why We Get Fat is not a diet book. It is a well-documented insight into how a move back to "old fashioned values" might make us healthier.
My grandmother was a single mother who worked in a potato chip factory. She never had great wealth but she had no debt and had savings in the bank.
That's the money philosophy I preach to clients.
She also told me to cut out deserts and potatoes when I wanted to lose weight.
It could be that grandmother was onto something.
And maybe Gary Taubes is, too.