Last Friday I received an email from Jonathan Bailor promoting a new initiative called Slim is Simple. According to Bailor, SIS is:
an angel funded non-profit ancestral nutrition education organization [that] will provide compelling multimedia resources — free of charge — that the educational and health communities can leverage to share the simple, fun, and proven ancestral nutrition science necessary to stem the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemics.
The email also promoted the initiative’s “first full-length animated ancestral educational” video (embedded below):
Courtesy of my Google Reader feed, I see that the video has been enthusiastically received by some of the paleosphere and/or the LC crowd:
- Paleoista: “I thought it was fantastic. It does a great job at appealing to the masses.”
- DietDoctor: “Here’s a nice new video called ‘Slim is Simple’ on how to get thin and stay thin.”
- Fat Head: “Last January I reviewed Jonathan Bailor’s excellent book The Smarter Science of Slim, which is very well written and packed with references to research. “
- That Paleo Guy: “I could just about retire the blog after watching this video clip.”
Call me ornery, crotchedy, or just in need of some sunshine, but I’m not quite as enthusiastic.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Over at the Carb-Sane Asylum, Evelyn is skeptical about both the SIS mission and its science:
And so now we are to have bad science repackaged as ancestral nutrition and a non-profit launched to spread his word.
As I don’t have the science background Evelyn does, I’ll let her have at that aspect in her blog. My issues with SIS are different: chiefly that for me, slim is anything BUT simple. And I doubt I’m alone.
I’ll grant that the Slim is Simple approach is not bad in and of itself. One certainly would be well served by getting off a processed food oriented diet and onto a more ancestrally oriented approach. And it’s great that the plan is to make this information freely available … even if it’s a loss leader for the complementary book.
But an ancestrally oriented approach, while “simple” in terms of prescription, is not necessarily “simple” in terms of practice. Don’t agree? Please see my “paleo is not a panacea” posts here, here, and here, browse the cheating or binge eating posts over at PaleoHacks, or look at case studies like the one Julianne recently posted.
For some of us, simple is NOT simple.
Which one do you feed?
I was going to save this one for a Quote of the Day, but it seems very relevant here. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about the two wolves and the one you feed. But just today I heard an interesting spin on this which adds:
You might heard the story ends like this: The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
In the Cherokee world, however, the story ends this way:
The old Cherokee simply replied, “If you feed them right, they both win.” and the story goes on:
“You see, if I only choose to feed the white wolf, the black one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and always fighting the white wolf. But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the white wolf is happy and we all win.
Anything but simple?
Anyways, this is not an argument for figuring out how to have your cake and weight loss too. Or maybe it is? But it’s just my two cents that for some of us, slim is anything but simple.
A slick YouTube video and related educational material may well be the solution if/when the problem is lack of information. But for too many of us, it’s not the lack of info that is the challenge. For some of us, slim is a challenge because:
- we’re emotional eaters or suffer from other eating disorders
- we’ve got other hormone issues, like excess cortisol as a result of stress-filled lives that aren’t quite so easy to resolve
- we’re menopausal and dealing with the implications
- we don’t have the time, energy, or resources to prepare “simple” meals
- unlike our ancestors (or even our grandparents), we’re surrounded by cheap, hyperpalatable processed food as well as sophisticated marketing campaigns that are around 24×7
I’m sure there are more that I could add to the list, and for some folks, they’d probably suggest I add an “all of the above” option!
And while I’m being crotchedy … I would certainly be the last person to say that someone needs a PhD in nutrition or an MD to be a legitimate weight loss voice on the blogosphere, but honestly? I’m kinda annoyed that a guy who has apparently never had a weight issue and is still working a day job at Microsoft (and using their resources — or at least email account — to promote SIS) is hoping I’ll help him promote the idea that “slim is simple.”
[And as a former math major familiar with the idea of "lies, damned lies, and statistics" (often attributed to Mark Twain), I found the whole "3 million calories" factoid (~2:30) irritating. But that's just me.]
So while the concept is simple (eat more like your ancestors) I’d say that putting that concept into practice may or may not be simple. And frankly, I don’t think that public health well served by putting out a message that “slim is simple” … I don’t see how that doesn’t fuel the weight stigma fire that it’s just all about personal responsibility.
I’ve not given up on being slim. But if I get there, I will argue that it was anything BUT simple!