The current tsunami of superstitions and magical thinking about food drives me to distraction. People who don’t know enough to drool intelligently have millions of followers slavishly avoiding some foods and nibbling compulsively on others in the terribly mistaken belief that they’re “eating healthy.” This has created in an epidemic of “orthorexia nervosa,” an eating disorder disguised as a form of ideological and bodily purity. It has resulted in widespread and unnecessary anxiety and joylessness, not to mention a reduction in levels of authentic health.
Who is responsible for this perversion of the table? Currently, it’s a passel of lean and hungry celebrities who never studied a page of biochemistry or nutrition science. In the 1950s, it was a brilliant self-promoter named Ancel Keys. This villain used some very faulty research to link saturated fats with heart disease. His findings have been disproven time and time again, but lots of folks don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Keys’ story was that by eliminating red meat, eggs and dairy products from one’s diet and chowing down on carbs, one could live forever. The necessary sacrifice enhanced the apparent virtue of a low-fat diet. The truth is that we need fat to make brain cells, skin, and the steroid hormones that actually keep us alive. Keys’ diet is a killer.
There are no “bad” foods with the exception of the highly processed plastic-wrapped pseudo-food widely available in convenience stores, gas stations and chain supermarkets. There are, however, “bad” ways of eating. These include over-large portions and over-consumption of particular foods or food groups and the phobic avoidance of other foods or food categories.
The ideal diet for Homo sapiens is the one our ancestors consumed in their environment of evolutionary adaptedness. I don’t mean the “caveman diet” that yet more scoundrels have written about for their own fun and profit. I’m talking about eating a little bit of everything and not too much of anything. It’s not sexy and I’ll never make a dollar writing a book about it, but it’s what we need to be genuinely healthy. It won’t make us live forever because nothing ever will.
Thanks for allowing me this rant. I needed it. I think I’ll go make myself a modest serving of bacon and eggs.