If you are overweight and you want to lose excess pounds to improve yourhealth and physical appearance . . .
If you are diabetic with poorly controlled blood sugars and you aredetermined to take charge of your disease, reduce your blood sugarto the normal range, and try to prevent the debilitating and disablingcomplications of diabetes . . .
There are five foods that you cannot eat:
- Bread and baked goods
- Potatoes and other root vegetables
- Fruit except for berries
That is my Five-Finger Lifestyle.
The rest of this book is just commentary.
For most of my life, as a child and a young adult, I was skinny. In fact, I wasso skinny that I could disappear by turning sideways. In my preschool years,I was cared for by my mother's mother while my parents worked. As withany doting grandmother (I was the first grandchild), part of her missionwas to be sure I ate enough. In those days (and more so today), evidence ofsufficient feeding was a chubby laughing baby. Unfortunately, I was a pickyeater, and my parents and grandmother had to find ingenious ways to getme to eat. I remember mashed-potato airplanes flying toward my mouthand "choo-choo train" vegetables making their way along my plate. Whenmy parents weren't there, my grandmother laboriously prepared multiplemain courses for each meal. After taking a bite or two, I would ask herto make something different. A willing enabler, eager to do her job, mygrandmother always complied with my request.
When I was four years old, we moved into our own home. Both my parentsworked full time as pediatric dentists, but we had home-cooked dinnerevery night. My mother prepared oven-ready meals late at night or in theearly morning, and they were delicious. Best of all, we always had dessert.My mother could really bake, and dessert usually consisted of cake withfrosting. Ice cream was also involved. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookieswere prepared and available for twenty-four-hour snacking.
As dentists, my parents did not allow candy in the house. To this day, Ihave little craving for candy bars. When it comes to cakes and cookies,however, saying "no, thank you" is much more difficult than eating "massquantities."
Gradually, I expanded my food repertoire. By college, I was eating a normal"collegiate" diet, which consisted primarily of cheeseburgers, french fries,and chocolate milk shakes. By medical school, I expanded my diet toinclude other ethnic cuisines. I learned to appreciate and prepare Chinese,Indonesian, Indian, French, German, and Mexican foods. Cookies andcakes, my sweet addictions, remained a constant part of my daily eatingregimen.
My weight remained fairly constant all those years. I was thin and healthy,participated in sports, and ate whatever I wanted. After graduating frommedical school, however, my weight slowly started to increase. Over thenext thirty years, I gained about 70 pounds without even knowing it. It wasas if I suddenly woke up one morning and weighed in at 225 pounds witha total cholesterol of 230. Unbelievable!
Eating habits are formed at an early age. The foods that we eat as children areassociated with satisfaction and comfort, which is why they are commonlycalled comfort foods. Since children have little or no independent abilityto make food choices for themselves, the cuisine parents feed their kidsdetermines a child's weight and future food choices. To this day, when Imake a Hungarian-style beef stew, I can picture myself sitting at the dinnertable in my paternal grandparents' apartment. It is no wonder that, asadults, it is difficult to break these childhood eating habits.
In my own case, with a strong family history of diabetes, hypertension, andstroke, I knew that I was heading down a dangerous path. I took action byactually going to an internist for care. He considered my family history andsuggested that I try a low-carbohydrate diet. Although skeptical at first, Itook his advice. Nine years later, I am still successfully living low carb.I have taken the time to tell you these facts about my own personaleating history to illustrate some basic principles that define most ofour eating habits. Also, I wanted you to understand that I prescribe thelow-carbohydrate lifestyle to my patients and to you because it worked sowell for me.
Face it. Sugar and carbohydrates taste great! That's why it is so difficult forus to stop eating them.
And that is why I wrote this book.
My goal is to give you a simple, understandable eating lifestyle to break thecarbohydrate addiction that will ruin your health and shorten your life.Most of you will easily recognize that the Five-Finger Lifestyle promotesthe same low-carbohydrate dietary regimen originally proposed by RobertC. Atkins, MD, in 1972. His first book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, wasa true ideological revolution. For years, the food industry—throughits governmental, dietary, and medical accomplices—had promoted alow-calorie, low-fat diet regimen. The "taboo" list included eggs, butter,cheese, beef, pork, creamy sauces, ice cream, and anything intrinsicallydelicious or prepared in a delicious manner. We were allowed to eatchicken, fish, fruit, nothing fried, and a variety of veggies best identifiedas rabbit food. Snacks, especially those that were commercially available,had to contain high amounts of carbohydrates to make up for the excludedeggs, cream, and butter needed for the product to taste good.
Peer pressure and guilt were also an integral part of the low-fat, low-calorieprogram. Imagine going out to dinner with friends. They all order dry,grilled chicken breast, baked potato (margarine only, please), and gardensalad with fat-free dressing. You turn yourself into the evening's pariah byordering a steak with béarnaise sauce, a bacon cheeseburger, or a rack ofbaby back ribs. While you are sitting there trying to enjoy your deliciousmeal, you are the subject of criticism and scorn, and it is suggested thatthey will be happy to take you directly to the emergency room after themeal.
Trust me. I have been there!
Dr. Atkins's approach contradicted those accepted rules. He recognized thatthe twin epidemics of obesity and adult-onset diabetes were the result of anational diet high in carbohydrates. Based on sound physiology, medicalevidence, and clinical success, he tried to change the dietary regimen of thecountry. Unfortunately, he was bucking a strong, well-financed campaignto maintain the status quo. In a series of books published over the ensuingthirty years, Dr. Atkins carefully outlined and explained the benefits of thelow-carbohydrate diet.
Let me assure you that I am a disciple of Dr. Atkins. I agree with hisapproach to weight and sugar control. In fact, I urge all of you to read hisbooks to get a more complete discussion of carbohydrate restriction. Hischapters about specific carbohydrate content of various foods and how toestimate portion size are important in order to follow a low-carbohydrateregimen successfully.
Legitimately, you could ask me why I decided to write this book.
Simply put, thirty years after Dr. Atkins's first book, Americans continueto gain weight and develop adult-onset diabetes at an alarming rate. Thecosts of this epidemic—in terms of death, disability, and essential medical/nursing care—are enormous and continuing to increase. Each of us,directly or indirectly, is paying the price through obesity, diabetes, disease,increased insurance premiums, and higher taxes.
Nevertheless, establishment diet "gurus" and government "nannies"continue to push low-calorie, low-fat, portion-controlled eating regimensthat are plainly too complex and require too much willpower for averagepeople to follow. In addition, most of the time, they just don't work.Consider this book an instruction manual for eating, a how-to book formanaging food intake, and a catechism to help you live a healthy lifestyle.