Mike’s Buzz

A Fat Lot of Good?

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"Is Sugar Toxic?" That was the provocative title of an article on the CBS News website a while back. The article was part of an ongoing meme in the popular press debating the merits of sugar. It's sort of an outgrowth of the debate over sweeteners like High Fructose Corn Syrup, which has been fingered as a prime culprit in the national obesity epidemic. Now it seems, its more traditional cousin, plain old sugar, is being caught in the guilt by association net as well.

Diet advice and nutritional debate are national crazes these days, which perhaps is inevitable given an aging population, especially when that aging population consists of notoriously self-obsessed individuals like us boomers (yeah, I'm one too...).

I find the sugar debate particularly interesting because it harkens back to an earlier debate some 20 or so years ago—back in the 80s when we were still young—about fats and cholesterol. At that time, sugar was on the side of the angels, a carbohydrate that was supposed to be good for you, unlike those darn fats.

And so the nation started to consume more carbs and less fats, just like we were told. Quite a few pounds later, we are now being told, "Never mind..."

Now it seems that fats may have gotten a bad rap and carbs, especially simple carbs like sugar and starch, were the bad guys after all. Thanks a lot, original food pyramid...

Anyway, I recently embarked on a low-carb diet regimen, mostly out of curiosity to see what would happen after reading so much about how high fat/low carb diets really do allow one to drop pounds without feeling deprived (just goes to show what lengths we Food Management editors will go to discover the truth...). Well, this isn't scientific but I CAN report that I have indeed lost weight and inches while basically eating as much non-carb grub as I wanted. Frankly, I'm pretty amazed.

Now, will I stay on this diet? Probably not for much longer, though I understand that quitting a low-carb diet can put you at risk of gaining weight back even if you don't overeat. I'll quit it once it gets totally tiresome and once my craving for my all-time favorite beverage—which is full of carbs and which I have consequently curtailed my consumption of to a deplorable extent—becomes unendurable. Yes, there are low-carb beers out there but they...well, they really suck.

Let me re-emphasize that my foray into cutting the carbs has no pretentions to any scientific validity. Your results may differ, as they say. I'm just reporting what happened with me...

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Mike Buzalka

Mike Buzalka is executive features editor of Food Management and has served the magazine in this capacity since 1998. Before that, he was executive editor of The Foodservice..
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