Out of the Dog House by Don Yaeger [free pdf e books]

  • Full Title : Out of the Dog House
  • Autor: Don Yaeger
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books; None edition
  • Publication Date: November 27, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629376752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629376752
  • Download File Format: pdf, epub


In 1963, Dick Portillo built a 6’ x 12’ trailer with no running water or bathroom and opened a simple hot dog stand in Villa Park, Illinois. He called it "The Dog House." More than 50 years and 50 locations later, his namesake Portillo's restaurants are a Windy City institution, famous for perfect, Chicago-style dogs. In Out of the Dog House, Portillo tells the incredible story of his life, sharing the ingenuity and hard-earned wisdom that went into building a beloved restaurant chain. From a modest childhood as the son of Greek and Mexican immigrants, to the core principles that became essential in growing a national business, this is a singular, at times surprising, tale of how one man crafted his own American dream, one hot dog at a time.


About the Author

Dick Portillo is the founder of the iconic Portillo's restaurant chain, which serves its famous Chicago-style hot dogs in over 53 locations nationwide.

An 11-time New York Times best-selling author, Don Yaeger is an award-winning certified speaking professional, executive coach, and team culture expert. He is a contributor to Forbes and a former editor of Sports Illustrated.



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ears ago. The reason is that most people don’t believe the weight-reducing diets actually work. Surrounded by increasingly plentiful and cheap food, and harsh memories of failed attempts at dieting, we often lack the willpower to reduce our calorie intake and to exercise more. There is even some evidence that an endless cycle of failed diets, where weight drops and rebounds regularly, can actually make people fatter. Some of the popular diets clearly work for many of us in the short term, especially the low-carb, high-protein ones, but longer term it seems to be a different story. The evidence suggests that even with record-breaking dieters, the weight often slowly piles back on.

Bad science and increasing waistlines

Since the 1980s the experts have been consistently telling people that eating any amount of fatty foods is bad for us. This campaign has been very effective, and with the help of the food industry has managed to reduce the total amount of fat consumed in many countries. Despite this, rates of obesity and diabetes have increased even faster. We have since discovered that some of the most prolific consumers of fat in the world, the Cretans from southern Greece, are among the healthiest and longest-lived. In order to replace the fat content, the food industry has steadily increased sugar levels in processed foods. This has led to dire warnings of sugar being the arsenic of our times. Yet it turns out to be still more complicated. Cubans, despite eating on average twice the total amount of sugar as Americans, are poorer but far healthier.

It is not then surprising that we are confused by all these different and competing messages – avoid fizzy drinks, sugar, juices, fat, meat, carbs – and left feeling as though there is nothing left to eat except lettuce. This confusion plus counter-intuitive food subsidies on corn (also called maize), soya, meat and sugar explains why people in Britain and America are actually eating less fruit and vegetables than a decade ago, despite expensive and aggressive government campaigns. In Britain, ‘five a day’ advice was recently stepped up to ‘seven a day’, in a futile attempt to stem the tide in the opposite direction. The reasoning behind these and most official diet recommendations is obscure – the simplicity of the message is overriding science. And there is little cross-national consistency. Some countries make no recommendations, others have now moved to ‘ten a day’; and others like Australia proclaim ‘Go for two and five’ so as to distinguish fruit from vegetables and to stop people just drinking seven orange juices a day. The food industry loves these ideas, and adds ‘healthy’ labels to their processed foods to obscure the other elements.

The justification for the ‘seven a day’ advice in the UK was based on an observational study of 65,000 people which compared those who said they had eaten no fruit and veg at all the day before to those who had eaten over seven portions. The survey reported that eating fruit and vegetables reduced death rates by over a third but that the absolute death rate could be lowered by just three-thousandths (or 0.3 per cent) in the fruit and vegetable eater – not so impressive. Genetic factors or, more likely, social factors could explain the food preferences, especially given that someone in East Glasgow is likely to die twenty years earlier than someone living in affluent Kensington. A study ten times larger found no benefit in increasing portions past five a day.

I’m not saying the advice is always wrong, but when it comes to health and diet we need to be much more cautious and critical of ‘official’ advice and recommendations. These knee-jerk responses are often based on insufficient evidence or bad science, or simply a reluctance on the part of politicians and scientists to change tack for fear of ‘confusing’ the public and losing face.

Just as dangerous is the oversimplification of the ‘common sense’ approach. If you eat less and exercise more you will lose weight, and if you can’t manage this you simply lack willpower, goes the message. This has been another medical mantra for the last few decades. Despite increased longevity, more sophisticated medical technology and improved living standards, we are going through an unprecedented epidemic of obesity and chronic ill health with no obvious end in sight. Can this really be due to a global lack of willpower, as we are often led to believe?

Many of the British twins I study have been put on diets, and it has been interesting to see how they have fared compared to their twin who hasn’t tried the same diet. When we asked them whether they had ever been on a weight-reducing diet for over three months, the ones that replied yes were on average fatter than the ones who said no. So to try to achieve a fair comparison of the effect of dieting rather than of the different personalities or physical characteristics of the twins, we looked at the differences between twin pairs. This let us account for any difference in genes, upbringing, culture and social class, which for most twins were perfectly matched. We also selected for this study only identical twins where both individuals in the pair were overweight, with a body mass index of over 30 (BMI is calculated as your weight in kilograms divided by your height squared in metres). For medical and research purposes, doctors classify this as obese.

At the start of this experiment the average weight of these twelve highly selected female twins was 86 kg (13½ stone) and their average BMI was 34. Now, you might have predicted that the twin who had the willpower to diet regularly would have something to show for her years of sacrifice. Instead, I found absolutely no difference in weight between the twin who had dieted regularly for the past twenty years and her identical twin who had never been on a serious diet. Similar results were found in younger twins who started off at the same weight at the age of sixteen. The twin who had dieted was on average 1.5 kilos heavier when the two were compared at the age of twenty-five.2

Our bodies simply seem to adapt to the new reduced calorie intake and do what they are programmed by evolution to do. It appears that the dull monotony of most exclusion diets is overridden by the body’s impulse to hold on to our fat stores. Once someone has been obese for a while, a whole series of biological changes transpire to maintain or increase their fat storage and the brain’s reward mechanisms for food.3 This is why most diets fail.

Global time bomb

In 2014, over twenty million American kids were obese – a percentage of the population that has tripled in three decades. Even American babies, who clearly can’t be blamed for their willpower or lack of it or for making poor choices, are getting fatter at a frightening rate. And the rest of the world is catching up: in the UK two out of three adults are now overweight or obese; the Mexicans are now unofficial world champions, and have overtaken the US in rates of both childhood and adult obesity; in China and India rates have tripled in thirty years to almost one billion obese citizens; over one in ten children in countries whose populations are often assumed to be thinner, like Japan, Korea and France, are now classified as obese.

Obesity, although sometimes seen legally as a disability, is not classified as a disease, yet its effects are just as deadly. As well as costing countries billions in healthcare bills, the main health consequences of this epidemic now include diabetes, which affects over three hundred million people and is growing at the rate of 2 per cent per year – double the average population growth rate. In places such as Malaysia and the Gulf States almost half the population have diabetes. If current trends continue, by 2030 an extra seventy-six million people in the UK and US will be clinically obese, bringing the obesity totals close to half the population. This means millions of extra patients with heart disease, diabetes, stroke and arthritis. Taxpayers are the ones footing the astronomical bills incurred, while we are being told by our governments and doctors that they know exactly what the problem is: overeating.

But why does the number of obese people on the planet continue to sky-rocket in developing countries like Botswana and South Africa where nearly half of all women are now clinically obese, while thirty years ago we were predicting mass starvation due to lack of food?

My earliest personal encounter with the extreme consequences of obesity was in the 1980s while working as a junior doctor in the first ever obesity unit in Belgium. To begin with, my junior colleagues and I jokingly regarded it as an expensive health farm. My first patient changed all that. She was brought in by the fire brigade, having collapsed at home with a blood clot in the lung. Weighing 260 kg (40 stone), she had been too heavy for the ambulance, and had to be winched out of her window by the fire crew. At only thirty-five years old, a diet of junk food and soft drinks had led to her being trapped in her own home for years, gaining weight until her body broke down. Despite losing 100 kilos in hospital she continued to suffer a series of severe medical problems including diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, and she died two years later of heart and kidney failure.

At the time of this first encounter with obesity, in 1984, the condition was still extremely rare. When I saw the effects on that real person and patient my view of obesity and its consequences altered completely. Such sad stories are now quite common, like the Welsh teenager from Aberdare who weighed 56 stone and had to be rescued from her home by demolishing a wall.

When I returned to Britain it would be another twenty years before doctors took the rise in obesity at all seriously, and even today obese patients are routinely denied treatments, compassion and resources. They cannot get urgent operations, and all over the world they are treated as second-class citizens when it comes to healthcare. Obesity is still a massively neglected area of medicine, with little funding, no speciality training, and no common voice with which to try to combat the billion-pound marketing budgets of the food companies.

As a junior doctor in London I was regularly told by my consultant bosses to tell obese patients with major health problems to exercise, to ‘take control of their lives and use their willpower to stop overeating’, or perhaps to remind them that ‘there were no fat people in concentration camps’. Needless to say these not-so-subtle ‘medical’ methods failed miserably – my patients got progressively fatter, more depressed and more diabetic and disabled. Sometimes we referred them to the hospital dieticians, but this was always a futile exercise as they were simply asked to change their habits and stop eating biscuits and crisps. It was like trying to use a sticking plaster to treat a massive haemorrhage. What was needed was a total change of approach.

If you reduce the daily calorie intakes of overweight people for long durations in a controlled environment to fewer than 1,000 calories (our normal recommended intakes are 2,000–2,600 calories a day) you have the solution to obesity. However, outside the army or hospitals such conditions are impossible, and there remain no practical or proven effective cures. One artificial exception, which also ‘cures’ diabetes without changing the external environment, is radical gastric bypass surgery. Yet despite fifty years of its relatively safe use doctors are highly unwilling to recommend it, partly because they don’t understand why it is so effective.

Doctors, dogma and diets – reversing ignorance

When faced with my own health scare up in the mountains, my knee-jerk reaction was that I must give something up. I chose to give up meat and dairy and the saturated fats that go with it, but depending on whatever article I had read last it could just as easily have been carbs, grains, e-additives, gluten, pulses or fructose. As the twentieth-century story of how all fats are bad for us seemed to be unravelling, I wanted to uncover the real science behind this and other diet myths. I wanted to find out if there was something all the so-called experts were missing.

Was I right to give up meat, which humans have eaten for millions of years? Do milk, cheese and yoghurt really cause allergies as many studies now claim? Was I eating too many carbohydrates or grains to compensate for the lack of fat and protein? Should I worry about GI content of carbs? The truth is that generally in science or medicine the yes-or-no answers favoured by doctors and other health experts turn out to be wrong. There is nearly always another layer of biological complexity and control that either hasn’t been thought of or has been dismissed as unimportant. This book is about digging down to that next layer using the very latest scientific research.

As well as my own experiences to draw on, I was lucky enough to have a large research group of fifty people and 11,000 adult twins I had been studying for over twenty years to help me. Being able to separate the effects of diet and environment from the effects of our genes is one of the big challenges of the nutrition research world, and twins offer the solution. These volunteers from all over the UK have been providing us with information on their health, lifestyles and diet habits in extraordinary detail. Combined with all the genetic data we have on them and their co-twins, they are probably the most studied people on the planet. This book has been an extraordinary personal tale of discovery for me, and I hope it will help you to cut through the confusing dogma, commercial interests and diet myths that face us all.

I want to use the latest research and discoveries to reverse the trend of ignorance, and to think outside of what is currently a very tightly closed box. I want to demolish the myth that obesity is simply a matter of counting calories in and out or about eating less and exercising more or cutting out one food type. It can seem today as though everyone is an expert on food and diet. But most diets are designed or promoted by people with no scientific training, and sadly, although there are some sensible ones, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or nutritional consultant. Famously, a professional certification from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants was awarded to one Henrietta Goldacre. The fact that Henrietta happened to be the medical author Dr Ben Goldacre’s deceased cat demonstrates the high standards of many nutritional diplomas.4

Even respected doctors become entrenched in their ideas and theories and refuse to acknowledge their flaws when new data emerges to contradict them. No other field of science or medicine sees such professional infighting, lack of consensus and lack of rigorous studies to back up the health claims of the myriad dietary recommendations. Moreover, no other field of science feels to me so much like a mass of competing religions – all with their high priests, zealots, believers and infidels. And as with religion most people, even at the risk of death, are unwilling to change their faith.

With the nutrition professionals constantly contradicting and criticising each other, it is no wonder that few large collaborative studies or projects get funded. I know from personal experience that many academics seeking funds for a project deliberately omit to mention an important diet component because they know that it will be heavily criticised by colleagues. Although there are a huge number of small studies performed and paid for each year, the standard of research compared to other fields is lagging far behind. Most studies are still cross-sectional and observational, full of possible biases and flaws; a few are superior observational studies followed over time, and only a tiny fraction are the gold-standard randomised trials in which subjects are randomly allocated to one foodstuff or diet and followed for long durations.

What we continue to lack is a wider understanding of the science behind nutrition and diets. Most diets are based on a narrow traditional view or simple observation and quackery, but the massive differences between individuals and their physiological responses to food go unexplained. If each new processed food introduced into our diet were a drug made by a pharmaceutical company, and if obesity were labelled a disease, we would have a wealth of data on its benefits and risks. Yet with food, even for the most synthetic chemical concoctions, we have no such safeguards.

The missing piece of the jigsaw

There is an enormous piece of the nutrition puzzle missing. Why can one person eat a certain meal regularly and gain weight while another ingests exactly the same food and yet loses pounds? Lean people (by which we now mean those of healthy weight and a BMI less than 25) are now the minority group in most populations. What makes them so different from ‘normal’ overweight people? Perhaps we should be studying them as the ‘abnormal’ ones?

Some of these differences are clearly down to our genes, which influence both our appetites and our eventual weight. My studies of twins in the UK (the TwinsUK study) and others from around the world have shown that identical twins are much more similar to each other in body weight and fat than fraternal twins. Since they are effectively genetic clones and share the same DNA, this shows the importance of genetic factors, which explain around 60–70 per cent of the differences between people. On average, identical adult twins are less than 1 kilo different in weight. These gene-influenced similarities extend to other, related, characteristics that we have also explored, such as the percentages of total body muscle and fat, and exactly where fat is deposited in or on the body. Habits related to eating are also influenced by genes, such as food likes and dislikes, and even how often people like to exercise or have meals. However, just because a trait is 60 or 70 per cent ‘genetic’ doesn’t mean it is predestined.

In fact, identical twins can sometimes have very different waistlines despite having identical genes, and we are studying these special pairs in great detail to find out why. These genetic factors alone don’t explain the massive changes seen in the population over the last two generations. In the UK in 1980 only 7 per cent of men and women were obese – now it is 24 per cent. Genes, made up of variations in DNA, cannot change that fast and traditionally need a minimum of around one hundred generations to adapt by natural selection.

Clearly, other factors are involved. The twenty-first century has already achieved major breakthroughs in the genetics of obesity and brain chemistry, and these newly discovered genes certainly do play a role, but it is only a very minor one. It is possible that we have been ignoring another major factor that influences our diet and health: this is our tiny gut microbes that may hold the answer to our modern obesity epidemic.

I’ll introduce microbes in detail in the next chapter, as they are crucial to so much of our misunderstanding about our modern diet. This fascinating new area of scientific investigation is transforming our entire understanding of the relationship between our bodies and the food we consume. Our narrow, blinkered view of nutrition and weight as a simple energy-in and energy-out phenomenon and our failure to account for our microbes have been the main reasons for the miserable failure of diets and nutritional advice. This nutritional disaster, combined with our success in mass-producing ever-cheaper food and in treating some diseases, is allowing us to survive longer, but at the cost of making us increasingly unhealthy.


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