Nutrition expert targets cheese
Dr. Neal Barnard is a psychiatrist who uses the biochemistry of food in his mission: to reduce disease by teaching Americans to eat healthier.
Although he is the grandson of a North Dakota cattle rancher, the author and George Washington University faculty member eats a vegan diet and advises no meat, milk or cheese for grown-ups - and no chocolate or coffee.
His says you can use what you eat or don't eat to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke and to treat and prevent diabetes - perhaps even impotence.
Sugar is another problem he addresses.
Addiction to sugar begins in infancy, Barnard told about 100 people at a lecture last night, "Breaking the Food Seduction," at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. That is the title of his new book published by St. Martin's Press, New York ($24.95).
The book includes recipes for healthy eating along with "the hidden reasons behind food cravings and the seven steps to end them naturally."
Barnard lives in Washington, D.C., and travels the country with a hopeful message:
You can break your food cravings with three weeks on a healthful diet based on fruits, vegetables and legumes.
It takes three weeks to break a bad food habit, he said. And don't just dip your toe in, he said.
Barnard rails against U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that promote cheese and milk consumption among adults and their use in pizza and hamburgers.
Between 1975 and 1990, U.S. cheese consumption doubled and Americans are now fatter than ever, he said.
Barnard, who weighs 150 pounds, picks on cheese because "there is no more fattening food than cheese."
"Our job is to get this message out and fight with the government, sue them (federal agencies) if we have to, for future generations," he said.
Adults crave cheese and milk products because of its fat and casein, which acts like an opiate when digested. It has one-tenth the opiate of pure opium, he said.
The opiate in milk is a trick of nature to make sure infants and baby animals nurse properly throughout infancy.
"Nature doesn't fool around," Barnard said.
The opiate in milk is also found in cheese.
You can switch to a vegan diet at any age, he suggests. His father is 78. His mother is the family cook.
"I've got two vegan parents and only one of them knows it," he said.
Barnard is president and founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit group advocating medical research and health promotion and compassionate medical practice.