All that glitters is not gold. (Yes, yes, English majors, I know it's really "glisters.") Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. Surely there's some other hoary old cliche for the inside not matching the outside? Oh, yeah: Don't judge a book by its cover.
There it was at the Goodwill the other day: A pretty, shiny hardcover book, complete with dust jacket and bright pretty pictures, with the title splashed across the front: The Low-Carb Bible. For $1.98, I had to pick it up.
What a disappointment. Beyond that: What a crock.
The cover claims "Your all-in-one guide to successful low-carb dieting," "Reviews of popular low-carb diets, including: Atkins, South Beach, Sugar Busters! and more," and "Tools to help you design a low-carb diet that suits you best." Not to mention "More than 150 scrumptious low-carb recipes." Sounds great, huh?
What we find inside, however, looks as if it were written to put people off low carb diets, not to encourage them to succeed at them. A selection of quotes follows:
"There are thousands of diets to help you lose fat. What works best? The National Weight Control Registry is a research project that has identified nearly 4000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for at least a year. How do they do it? About half of them loast weight on their onw, while the other half used a formal weight loss program or onsulted a healthy professional for guidance. No matter what their method for initial weight-loss, participants continue to follow a low calorie, low fat diet to keep the pounds off."
"Even the less extreme of the low-carb plans may be unsafe because they restrict certain foods that help fight disease."
"... forgoing whole grains may increase your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease."
"Diets high in red meat and low in fiber may also increase cancer risk. Additionally, a low carb diet may be missing many of the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals."
"Myth: It's possible to live off of foods such as steak, eggs, butter, and cream and maintain good health. Reality: Most animal foods pack saturated fat and cholesterol, which contribute to clogged arteries."
"Fortified grains (Dana's note: by this they mean refined, enriched crap) provide folic acid, a B vitamin linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke."
This "bible" specifically warns that diabetics should not eat a low carb diet, which is damned near genocidal. It insists that low carbers should eat 2-3 servings of whole grains daily, because they "promote a feeling of fullness." It also recommends 5 servings of fruit per day -- pushing all this fructose while also recommending that gout-sufferers not eat a low carb diet. Since the evidence is that it is fructose, not meat, that increases uric acid levels in gout sufferers, they should avoid this version of a "low carb" diet, at least!
Some of the food substitutions recommended by this "low-carb bible?" Instead of Rice Chex, eat Wheat Chex. Instead of a bagel, have oat bran bread. Instead of instant oatmeal, have quick-cooking oatmeal. Like any of this lowers carb count. Oh, and for some reason they recommend you swap out your bottled Italian dressing for balsamic vinegar and oil; I have no idea what that's about.
But it's the recipes that really take my breath away, not to mention my appetite. Omelets with margarine, low fat cottage cheese, and Egg Beaters. A brunch frittata with frozen hash browns in it, along with those fake eggs again. Soup with ramen noodles. Salad with packaged croutons. Barbecued salmon with sugary KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce. Pasta meatball soup, with breadcrumbs in the meatballs, and regular white flour pasta. Blackened chicken salad with 2 cups of cubed French or sourdough bread in just four servings. It goes on and on and on.
Fat free and fat-reduced products are recommended -- low fat cheese, fat free broth and the like -- while other recipes specify whipping cream. Go figure.
The brand names come thick and fast -- not just Egg Beaters and KC Masterpiece, but Fleischman's Margarine, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Contadina canned tomatoes, Guiltless Gourmet Roasted Red Pepper Salsa, Butterball Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets (like it matters what brand of chicken breast you use), Bird's Eye frozen vegetable blends. It's hard to believe that this book was not financed by the food processing industry in an attempt to cash in on the low carb trend, while simultaneously steering people away from it. I find it telling that it came out in 2003, just as interest in low carb was at its zenith, and the major food processors were scrambling to adjust. It's easy to imagine that books of this nature were part of why a year later we were hearing "Low carb is dead."
It's very difficult to imagine how this book could be any worse. Thank heaven I only paid $1.98.
I'm going to go coat some non-Butterball boneless, skinless chicken in almond meal, fry it in butter, and serve it in a cheese-and-cream sauce. How about you?