30 August 2011,

Despite insisting on engaging in daily hedonism, the latest diet craze from France is anything but pleasant. Miraculously, the ultra low carbohydrate, relatively low fat, high protein Dukan Diet food does the trick: I have seen numerous friends and family members drop anywhere between 4 to 10 kgs, and I have also had some luck with this – admittedly joyless – process.

Searching through journals to validate some of the psychological and dietetic principles involved, I realized that High Protein diets might be doomed. While low impact journals tout the benefits of Low Carb/ High Protein, the folks at Lancet are still snubbing Doctors like Dukan.
It is worth noting that France, the bastion of pleasure filled food fests, has produced a diet so restrictive that even North American Yo-Yo dieters question their ‘willpower’ to follow through with this plan.
I do believe that Dukan’’s regimen produces weight loss – most accutely in those individuals who have experienced confusion about the differences between ˊgoodˊ and ˊbadˊ carbohydrates.

More interestingly, though, is the drastic slash of foods associated with pleasure that is proposed in this diet. The Mediterranean Diet symbolizes the idea that ˊeverythingˊ enjoyed in moderation leads to optimum health. On the Dukan plan, it looks like even Olive Oil – the panacea for almost any ailment in Europe – is coming under attack.
Above all, this new diet craze indicates to me that Obesity, clearly, is no longer a ˊNorth Americanˊ problem. The French used to enjoy a degree of sanctimonious ˊI told you soˊs,ˊ about the benefits of wine, cheese, and chocolate fondue. No longer is this the case. It turns out that eating ˊeverythingˊ in ˊmoderationˊ may be in fact a surefire way to put on weight.

Part of our discomfort with the debate about obesity – and to an extent, the efficacy of low carb diets – is that we have lost sight of the fact that a ‘diet’ does not mean chocolate energy bars, high fiber brownies, or even low carb ice cream. A diet is needed to reform your eating patterns, particularly when your body is showing you that you are eating too much. Critically, the provision of Dukan paraphernalia does not yet exist. You cannot find Dukan ‘energy bars’, ‘mocholate’, or protein inspired cereals. For this reason alone, I am a fan of the plan.

Problematically, ‘healthy eating’ messages get watered down by the incorporation of healthy-ish foods. In attempt to ‘eat healthfully’, we may actually be trying to lose weight. The two may in fact be mutually exclusive. Foods that are indeed very high in nutrients, may immediately lead to an increase in our waist circumference – to say nothing of the consequences of eating food that is very high in pleasure, and low in nutrients. Sugar, fat, and salt all come to mind here.

Dukan goes to great pains to explain that while there are lots of foods that are nutritious, many of them have the pernicious consequence of weight gain. To sum it up briefly, for once, mais oui!, we have someone who has embraced the idea that we cannot eat ourselves slim. Tomorrow, I will in fact be posting how thermogenisis works, why high protein diets are effective (and not just because they are boring), and consider the controversy of their acceptance by the greater medical community (or, what I perceive to be a controversy).

Thank you for your time and consideration,


11 responses on “The French Paradox, Part I

  1. Leatrice says:

    Was totally stuck until I read this, now back up and rnuning.

  2. Janese says:

    Waklnig in the presence of giants here. Cool thinking all around!

  3. Hines says:

    Your asnewr was just what I needed. Itˊs made my day!

  4. Lesa says:

    Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool tihnknig all around!

  5. Mavrick says:

    Heck of a job there, it asobluetly helps me out.

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