Cooking with a Fat Guy

February 24, 2010

Chuck Lawson
I’ve been fat all of my life. Okay, sometimes less fat than others, but I was a fat kid, I was a fat teenager, and I’m a fat adult. Fine — I live with it, it’s life as I know it. For the most part, I’ve always kept it at a level that I’m more or less comfortable with, but as I get older, that’s gotten a bit more difficult.

Lately, I’ve been carrying around more bulk than I’m comfortable with, and it’s time to make a few changes. I’ve never eaten a lot, and while I don’t get a vast amount of exercise, I’m not getting any less than I usually do, so (as is typical for me) it was time to do a little investigation as to what’s going wrong.

Unfortunately, if you line up all of the nutritional experts in the world, they still point in all directions — and finding honesty (in this as much as anything) under all of the spin and agendas gets harder as information (and its evil cousins, disinformation, agenda-laden opinion, and information-like material) becomes easier to acquire.

So, what to do?

Well, first off, screw “absolute truth”. If it’s out there, it’s hiding. Instead, let’s work with the old Rich Bandler standby of “A useful model is one that works most of the time”. It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be useful. I seem to have kind of stumbled upon one such model.

I’d read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma awhile back, and (having grown up in farm country during much of the lead-up to the situation he describes) it made a lot of sense to me.

More recently, I stumbled onto Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, and it made a great deal more sense — it had an explanation that seemed reasonable to me as to why “low carb” diets always seem to work, and (more importantly) why it seems like the more we focus on “low fat” diets, the fatter we get.

This model largely matches what you’ll find in Pollan’s In Defense of Food (or the much shorter straight to the point version of the recommendations from the preceding, Food Rules).

In short, where I’ve landed is the following set of general rules:

  • Buy mostly ingredients
  • Cook them myself
  • Avoid processed foods and other food-like substances
  • Favor protein over carbohydrates
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour, etc.) like the plague
  • Eat the majority of my carbohydrates as breakfast
  • Eat when I’m hungry, and don’t eat when I’m not

I’ve been doing this increasingly over the last month, and have lost about 20 lbs in the process, all without ever feeling “deprived”, or like I’m “dieting”, or noticeably increasing my exercise level.

So, there we go — useful model. If you want to argue about the reasoning behind it, take it up with Pollan and Taubes and the rest of them. As long as it’s working, I don’t see much reason to worry about it.

As a bonus, while I’ve always enjoyed cooking, I’ve been letting my kitchen geekery run wild here lately, and it’s something I’m interested enough in to blog about (which I obviously haven’t been much interested in doing lately), so expect to see more posts about cooking and kitchen gadgetry and the like.

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4 Responses to “Cooking with a Fat Guy”

  1. Paul on September 15th, 2010 3:30 am

    Hi there,

    I managed to stumble on your website through Google and saw this post. If you’re struggling, I’d recommend the paleolithic diet and also crossfit for an exercise routine. Combined, they are very very effective!

  2. Maria on February 24th, 2011 4:45 pm

    Fuck yeah. I’m in the ‘fat teenager’ stage. Well, not for long, I guess. Meaning age, not weight.
    But I’m working on it, and these are definitely solid rules to live by, or so I’m discovering.
    Thanks for writing this article, I have a feeling it’s come in handy for many!

  3. Anthony on March 22nd, 2011 3:28 am

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  4. Diana on July 13th, 2011 8:53 pm

    I’m impressed that you were able to lose 20lb just by following this simple diet regimen. It does remind me of the paleo diet which I’ve personally been into. Google it if you’re interested.
    Diana´s last blog post ..Reiki for Beginners

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