Saturday, August 28, 2010

If it's a swindle, I'm for this one

Michel Montignac died last Sunday in Annemasse, France. His name is frequently referred to in reverential tones in our household, usually at dinner time. He perfected a low-glycemic diet (despite no scientific training, harrumph his critics) that was the inspiration for the South Beach Diet and the Susanne Somers Diet amongst others.

“All traditional methods of dieting have amounted to a myth as big as Communism, and like Communism, they are destined to collapse,” Mr. Montignac told The New York Times in 1993.

Despite the fact that his diet isn't actually a diet but a sensible way of life, he still has his critics. “The diet is basically a delightful, joyous swindle,” Dr. Marian Afpfelbaum, a nutrition professor at the Bichat medical school in Paris, said in 1993.

When I hear a nutritionist weigh in with an opinion, I usually tune out. Nutritionists have been telling us for years rubbish such as what my mother heard from one on CBC Radio back in the 1950s. Kool-Aid is a nutritious drink for children, the nutritionist said soothingly. Yes, she actually said that! Nutritionists then went on to contradict themselves for several decades by saying that sugar causes hyperactivity, then recently nutritionists have begun telling us that sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity. Nutritionists also tell us nonsense that we can get all the nutrients we need just by eating a balanced meal, completely ignoring the fact that food loses much of its nutritive value by being shipped long distances (so do people, BTW), frozen and defrosted, and more importantly, some people need lots more of certain vitamins than the recommended daily amount. Recommended daily amounts are for sissies. You gotta be bold when it comes to your own health.

I put nutritionists in the same category as most psychiatrists - they both are faddists. Since we are all unique in mind and body, we owe it to ourselves to think for ourselves about what works and what doesn't for us.

Just this week, in fact, I was daydreaming about opening up a chain of restaurants in North America based on the Montignac low-glycemic index and food combining. Patrons at my restaurants and fast food outlets would be refused any food combination that provokes weight gain and diabetes. "You want potatoes or pasta with your meat? Forget it. And don't even think of ordering fruit after dinner. It's just not going to happen here."

R.I.P. Michel Montignac. I haven't had that bloated feeling since I embarked on your diet.


  1. Oh dear, and a nutritionist was the next step....
    My daughter has terrible eating habits. I cannot intervene. Also too often a comment will come to my blog saying that such and such a combination of things has lessen the mood swings or taken a way the lability during menstruation.
    I was at a party a couple of seeks ago and a friend told me about a nutritionist in New York City who had helped a number of people she knew and I asked for the name.
    Clutching at straws?
    Since my daughter has been home, (you might have missed this chapter - she is here - now recovering from foot surgery) I have more control over her diet and I have been giving her fish oil and vit d. We actually think she is calmer. Mood swings have been shorter-lived.
    I figure better nutrition can't hurt.

  2. Oh, dear, now I feel I have given the wrong impression. Diet and nutrition is important, so are vitamin supplements. However, they are not the whole picture in many cases. I started out thinking that all I had to do for Chris was to get him on all the vitamins that were recommended for schizophrenia and his issues would magically go away. I think a lot of people also are under this impression. For some people, it actually works, ie. they quickly become whole. But for a lot of people it doesn't. What I realized about the vitamin and nutrition approach is that it is identical to the medications approach in that it looks at mental illness almost exclusively as a biochemical imbalance (just fix the biochemistry and all will be well . . .) Chris has always improved when we did the high dose vitamin supplements, but he also relapsed while we were doing the high dose vitamin supplements (while continuing to do psychotherapy twice a week!), so I went back to the drawing board and rethought this. Your daughter will definitely improve with nutritional and vitamin intervention but it won't be the whole picture. (I also warn about how vitamins can become a tyranny if you aren't careful - search "The tyranny of vitamins" post on my blog. The point about nutritionists on my blog was more about "expert" opinion. It changes all the time. There is also the "expert" trap where the expert only believes in what he or she is doing, and doesn't have a clue about other therapies. So, they often won't endorse anything that they personally don't practice. I have spent most of my energy over the past few years trying to sneak other therapies in that "the experts" didn't believe in.


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