For a Smaller Waist, Eat Red Meat, Butter & Whole Milk?


I recently rediscovered the blog Junkfood Science whose author Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP describes as “critical examinations of studies and news on food, weight, health and healthcare that mainstream media misses.  Debunks popular myths, explains science and exposes fraud that affects your health.”

Like us at Green Mountain at Fox Run, Sandy is an advocate of Health at Every Size (HAES).  It’s about focusing on healthy behaviors, not our weight.   Because as many of us have likely experienced, a focus on weight loss often leads to questionable health practices.

The blog popped up when I was googling “waist-hip ratio” to confirm what are considered to be healthy measurements to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.  Instead I found Sandy’s blog that argues that the waist-hip ratio is just about as valid as the BMI for predicting risk.  Which, in other words, means it’s not particularly valid.
That blew a hole in my idea for today’s post which was to look at a study of what foods are associated with increases in waist circumference as we age.  Then I thought again.  Why not go ahead and talk about it?  It’s interesting stuff, even if it doesn’t have any particular relevance to our health according to Sandy’s argument.

It’s interesting because it potentially blows a hole in some commonly-held ideas about healthy eating.  The study (published in this month’s Journal of The American Dietetic Association) found that red meat, butter and high-fat dairy products (read whole milk and cheese), along with the usual culprits of fruits and veggies, may help us women keep our pants fitting better.  Potatoes, processed meats, poultry and snack foods do the opposite. Here’s the problem:

  • If Sandy’s argument is correct, these findings don’t affect healthy eating advice.  All the saturated fat and cholesterol in these products could still be a concern as far as heart health goes.
  • If her argument isn’t correct, it seems the foods that help keep our waists healthy aren’t  the same ones that are supposed to keep us healthy.

I’m tempted to fall back on the usual researcher caveat and say, “This needs more study!”  Instead, I’ll close by pointing out that there is a growing number of people who don’t buy the saturated fat/cholesterol connection to heart disease, at least the way it’s been interpreted for years.  There’s also probably an even larger number of people who worry that changes we’ve made to our foods in the interests of health may have created more problems than they’ve solved.

I personally like the real food movement.  Just eat real food, in moderation, stay active (not necessarily exercising but moving) and be happy.  I think any study of that would probably show some pretty good results for the majority of us.

We’re really missing what you have to say about our posts.  We hope to have the ability to make comments working again soon.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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