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Apr 2, 2011 04:14 PM

how many of you really follow "nutrition science"?

I have a very strong belief that no one knows what the hell they are talking about.

When I was a kid eggs were bad and so was all fat. This almost ruined vegetables for me. Have you ever eaten steamed spinach? It is like eating a wet, green paper towel. Steamed carrots are pretty close to it on the awful food spectrum.

Now some fat and eggs are good. Butter may or may not be good. who the hell knows?

Potatoes? Good?

Salt? Bad??

Why are fruits and vegetables counted as separate things on food pyramids?

Gluten. I know some people are legitimately afflicted with celiac, but healthy people say they don't eat any wheat because of it?? I know I am not alone thinking some peoples allergies are all in their heads.

I can't wait until Kraft Singles and marshmallow fluff cure cancer.

My personal regimen is oatmeal for breakfast, some weight lifting, wine , green vegetables and beans a few times a week. If gluten makes me lose out on a few extra years drooling on my self in some pee smelling old folks home, so be it. Death to food science.

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  1. Unless you have a clinically diagnosed disease or medical condition (e.g. celiac or hypertension), eat everything and anything, but only in moderation.

    Nutrition, like medicine, isn't a science, it's an art.

    Beauty, like nutritional value, is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the eater.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      of course nutrition is science! but just not science we fully understand, so we still have to follow our intuition.

    2. Hi all,

      I agree with ipsedixit. Moderation is the key.

      If I do have a 'rule' at all it is I don't eat if I'm not hungry. When I'm hungry I eat whatever I feel like eating.

      I also do not 'modify' recipes to make them more 'healthy'... The thought of eating brownies made from black beans and applesauce is appalling.


      2 Replies
      1. re: I used to know how to cook...

        yeah i agree. why can't healthy food just be itself? beans and spinach are pretty good they don't need to be turned into fake hamburgers or fake meatloaf.

        1. re: j8715

          The key word in your post is 'healthy' ... To me, all foods are healthy. Maybe not for every person but generally speaking.

          Pronouncements from on high that certain foods or even whole classes of food are 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' is absurd.

          'cuz if you're gonna have beans (healthy) you just absolutely GOTTA have bacon (unhealthy) :)

          Example: Haagen Dazs vanilla is made from cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla, all perfectly natural and healthy ingredients. Oh, GOSH!!! Maybe the egg yolks are RAW!!! The shame of it all...

          What would it be like made without the cream, using sugar substitute and eliminating the egg yolks? I don't think I want to find out.


      2. Eschewing the popular press is the first step toward nutritional sanity. I'm convinced that dietary hype sells especially to those looking for an easy answer and an excuse. It's as simple as: Just say "NO" to the next dietary fad. Michael Pollen has it right when he advises "Eat foods that your grandmother would recognize" or words to that effect. The giant food corporations receive little profit from this household, we don't eat a lot of things from boxes or packages. Honesty compells me to admit that I have more time to spend in the kitchen than many others since my days as a working mom are over but even when I was busier, I was what is called a "scratch cook".

        My husband and I have not changed our diets to fit the fad-of-the-moment and have no plans to do so. Our physicians congratulate us at yearly physicals, telling us to continue doing whatever we're doing. We may be the only two Americans who never bought into the "Low-Fat" or "Low Carb" mania recognizing that moderation is key. But so is flavor. We will happily sacrifice a lot of mediocre food for something small and truly delicious. Salt is not white death, eggs are a great food both nutritionally and economically, potatoes et al are delicious and wine & butter are gifts to be savoured.

        When the overindulgence devils visit, we realize that it is time to reduce caloric intake and increase physical exertion. Simple arithmetic says that consuming more fuel than you burn results in excess pounds. Making some changes is in order but never anything as draconian as a diet. We just modify and/or cut back until our clothes notify us that all is well.

        I will admit to buying at a local Farmers' Market. It's not for some esoteric nutritional reason, it's because the food tastes good. Eggs with deep rich yolks taste best to us, freshly picked produce has a bright flavor and lasts a long time. We eat from all over the globe and enjoy our meals; Lordy how we enjoy our meals! When all is said and done, I believe that is key.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            A favorite quote: Salt. A magic rock that makes food tasty.

          2. I love this post.
            I am just about to start my dietetic internship this fall, but can honestly say that after 4 years of hard-core nutrition education, I haven't really learned much about FOOD. Nutrients, yes. Numbers, yes. I can tell you anything you want to know about the food guide, or how much saturated fat you should have (or shouldnt have, I guess). Thankfully, I have had to stray from my professor's teachings in my own philosophy on eating and food, because if I didn't, I would be stuck where most of my peers are- understanding food in terms of how many Food Guide servings it adds up to. I have a huge problem with this, because most of my peers dont know ANYTHING about food, they're scared of food. And hell, you might be too if you ONLY were ever taught about it in such quantifiable, scientific terms. The problem will be once they go into practicing dietetics, and people ask them about FOOD... and they have no idea what to do or say.
            I agree.. I dont like words like "healthy" recipe/food/meal, or dichotomize foods as good or bad. I think if you are cooking with passion, and using good ingredients, then it must be healthy.
            I actually delivered a tedx talk about this last year, see here:

            1. I think you've got a few issues in your list.

              One is nutrition science. I'm not a biologist, but I am a research scientist, so I tend to interpret the reports of findings in any field from that perspective. In general, the scientists themselves know very well that they don't understand everything. What they report in their academic reports and papers is the current best version of what they know, and if it's good science, it comes attached with limits on that understanding - statistical uncertainties, sample size and selection biases, mathematical significance of the result.

              But when stuff gets reported in the media those limits get dropped or ignored by readers who don't understand it. So the news reports "Fat is bad for you and causes high cholesterol" , when the scientific study itself actually said "in a five year study of 500 men in their 30s, high fat diets were correlated with a 15% greater chance of high cholesterol, at an 85% confidence level. " The second one clearly states the limits in the result,and also distinguishes between causation and correlation.

              From the scientist point of view, unfortunately, splashy clear results make better press copy,and press coverage means a much bigger chance of getting research funding and jobs. Cautious results don't tend to get you a job.

              A second issue is how people interpret results. The gluten thing is a good example. There are people who have a legitimate issue digesting gluten, a serious medical issue. However, a lot of people simply extract "gluten is bad" from this, and either self-diagnose gluten intolerance (often incorrectly) or somehow extract that all gluten is bad, and a gluten free diet (or lactose free, or raw food diet, or carb free, or fat free, etc....) will make them healthier.

              Psychologically, this is quite tempting. It's a sound bite solution - short, easy to grasp, and simple to apply, with promises of great reward. It sounds cooler and more knowledgeable than simply eating home cooked food in moderation, and it gives you the option of safely pigging out, as long as the junk food doesn't contain gluten/fat/starch etc.

              2 Replies
                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit


                  Your post is excellent. I would add a few items which are slight nit-picks, which I hope will amplify your comments.

                  1. The problem is, in part, what readers take away from mass-media stories. Another significant part is that a lot of journalists in the mass media simply don't know what they're talking about. They don't understand how to interpret these scientific results, and don't know how to ask the right questions to clarify things and inform readers.

                  2. Another problem is that some of the "popular or current medical wisdom" is simply not based on good science. That's how it came to be that years ago eggs were regarded as "bad"--and also how coconut oil and MSG were regarded as bad! (In recent years coconut oil and MSG have been

                  3. As an example of #2, medical "wisdom" today says "avoid fats." The "thinking" is that dietary fat will ultimately wind up as arterial plaques. But afaik there simply is no evidence that this is true, at least, not for large numbers of people. It may be true for some people; and it may be true as well that dietary fat results in arterial plaques certain other variables are present, e.g. when the eater is also a smoker, or has a certain genetic profile.

                  4. As Groopman showed in How Doctors Think, and as we know from cognitive science, doctors don't always think clearly and cleverly about patient signs and symptoms, e.g. gluten sensitivity (which may be increasing).

                  As for what to eat and what not to eat, I think I;'m a reasonably well-informed person on this stuff, and my practice, based on my knowledge, is "eat anything you want, certain in moderation; it might be a good idea to cut down on fructose, per Gary Taubes."