Phil Carville
Fitness Columnist
Phil Carville

You say: What is he talking about … Corona and CRAP? He probably has cabin fever and is losing it. He has lost it before.

Please, let me explain. The coronavirus is a dangerous threat and will kill over 100,000 people this year. But let us not forget about obesity as a dangerous threat which killed 374,940 people last year.


COVID-19 is our immediate concern… as well it should be.

Except for our magnificent, daily heroes ­— hospital workers, fire/police and other essential workers ­— most of us are cooped up at home, watching more movies than we thought possible, exercising too little and probably eating too much. The ‘eating too much’ (a relative term) causes excess body fat and paves the way for those disastrous mortality figures.


“CRAP” is an acronym devised by Dr. Jeff Novick, a renowned M.D. and dietitian. It stands for Calorie-Rich And Processed-foods.

CRAP, genetics, drugs, weight-loss, sugar, fats, et cetera, are going to be the topics of my articles for the next several months. I want to explore with you some of the not so obvious aspects of food, diet and health. I think it will be interesting journey.

The Food Industry

The food industry is dialed into you, your biological vulnerability, your genes … but especially, its profits.

The main weapon (profit generator) of the processed food industry is to strip down Mother Nature’s crops into almost pure calories and then sell the result to you.

Take corn, for example. Strip it down to sugar, oil (almost pure fat), and white flour. Sell it to you as high-fructose corn sugar, corn oil, candy, et cetera. They remove the fiber because it has almost no calories.

The same thing happens to brown rice. Shove brown rice through the mill and remove two-thirds of the fiber. Same for wheat… remove 75% of the fiber. What you are left with is “CRAP.”


Once the “industry” has turned nature’s bounty into CRAP, those calorie-rich substances become addictive. They activate the same reward pathways in our brains as do opioids, cocaine, meth, et cetera.

We wind up with food addiction. We become hooked on calorie density.

Calorie Density

We don’t tend to binge on natural foods. For example, I don’t know anyone who binges on broccoli or gets up in the middle of the night to gorge on cabbage. But I do know many people who can’t resist donuts, cheese and meats. Or ice cream as a night cap?

Monkey Diet

There was an interesting, free-living primate experiment. One troop of baboons lived on a natural diet, while another troop lived on processed foods found in dumpsters. What was the result?

The “dumpster diet” baboons weighed 50% more than their natural eating cousins. Unfortunately, we have fallen into the same trap.

For millions of years we hunted, gathered and ate natural foods. Our biology evolved largely eating fruits, leaves, roots and nuts. There were no dumpsters in the garden of Eden.

Our Adventure

Over the next several months, I will focus on some really interesting “food topics” which are really people topics. We will explore biology, genetics, sugar, fat, salt, cravings… we might even dive down into chili peppers, calcium and who knows what!

I look forward to this journey with you.

In the meantime, be smart, practice social distancing and stay well.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to respond to questions or comments. He can be reached at

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