I will NEVER diet or follow nutritional advice again

(205 Posts)

I thought I was pretty clued up on healthy eating and on why certain foods were good or bad. Then I read 'In Defence of Food' by Michael Pollan. It is astonishing to read about how utterly clueless, completely untrue, or often deliberately misleading, official nutritional advice is. And incredible how simple it is to eat healthily. Anyone who has ever dieted/low carbed/low anythinged should read this book.

HygieneFreak Sat 21-Jun-14 18:01:07

Can you elaborate? Im a dieter so im intrigued as to what foods your referring to

MaryWestmacott Sat 21-Jun-14 18:17:10

is it perhaps saying what we know that "eat less, move more, and make the food you eat real food, close to natural state as possible" is the only advise worth paying attention to?

CoreyTrevorLahey Sat 21-Jun-14 18:21:06

There's a good article along these lines in the Guardian today, OP. I completely agree with you. The diet industry is so completely amoral, it's horrible to think about.

To elaborate...
A lot of what Pollan says sounds like simple common sense, but it's when you look at his evidence about the way nutritionists, journalists and governments ovee the past decades have gradually shaped the way we think about food today that you realise quite how tragic it is.

Essentially, pretty much any traditional diet in the world - Mediterranean, Japanese, Inuit, Masai - you name it - is better for health than the Western diet. Nutritionists have taught us to regard foods as a cocktails of nutrients, each of which is generally regarded as being good or evil (and they change their minds often about which is which).

Instead of eating real food straight from the field or animal, we have become obsessed with squeezing loads of the currently 'good' nutrients into processed foods. We are swayed constantly by the latest advice ir celeb-endorsed diet.

Pollan sums up his dietary advice by saying 'Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.' , but does go on to elaborate on this. Basically eat what your great grandparents would have eaten and stop looking for the magic bullet - diet, superfood, etc. Buy the best, most natural food you can afford. Eat food you like, don't worry if you don't like broccoli/pomegranate/whatever. Take time preparing it and time eating it. Don't regard food as a tool to improve your health or a stick to beat yourself with. Take pleasure in it.

Wellerum Sat 21-Jun-14 19:23:22

Sounds good.

JavaSparrow Sat 21-Jun-14 21:28:51

If you go to his website, the article he wrote on which the whole book is based is available for free to read.

However, I would recommend the actual book to anyone.

JavaSparrow Sat 21-Jun-14 21:29:00

If you go to his website, the article he wrote on which the whole book is based is available for free to read.

However, I would recommend the actual book to anyone.

AnyoneForTennis Sat 21-Jun-14 21:31:54

Why did he need to write a book about common sense eating? hmm

What you described is what we ALL know. Paleo diet for example.... Is he scathing about that one too??

He is not scathing about any diets. I know it seems silly to need a book about what would appear to be just common sense. But I consider myself a pretty sensible person and have read a LOT about various diets etc and have toyed with paleo, low carb etc.

Although much of what Pollan says is kind of common sense, a lot of his focus is on how we got to our current mindset about food and diet, and why official advice has been so bad. It is this, combined with his point that basically ANY traditional diet is healthy which really impressed me. Some of those diets are quite odd and they are very different indeed from each other - e.g. the Japanese diet compared with some tribes who basically live on animal blood, milk and grasses.

It is hard to do the book justice here without quoting big chunks of it. But as I say, I have read a great deal about diet over the years and this book has finally given me my lightbulb moment. I will no longer:

Read stuff about nutrition
Try to add or cut out specific nutrients
Be seduced by new ways to lose weight

I will try not to:

Think constantly about whether what I am eating is going to make me fatter/thinner/more healthy

I will:

Buy lots of good, real, fresh food
Start going to my local farmers' markets more
Enjoy my food and enjoy not worrying about it

bberry Sun 22-Jun-14 09:51:05

Surely we all know that, it's basic common sense!

But everyone is looking for a magic fix or "easy" way... Which doesn't exist.

All different types of diets actually work IF you stick to them...the trouble is people don't and the say the "diet" doesn't work!

Oh and Anyonefortennis - he isn't scathing about people following diets because he totally understands why we do it. He lays the blame with the official advisers and journalists. Paleo probably fits in better than most diets with his ideas on how we should eat. I can't remember exactly what he says about paleo. Will check. But the idea is that following a specific diet shouldn't be necessary. The one which he rejects utterly of course is the low fat diet which, as many people are now realising, is pretty much responsible for the 'obesity epidemic' and many related health problems.

ExitPursuedByAKoalaBear Sun 22-Jun-14 10:01:11

I found it interesting to read about Kellogg's and how breakfast cereals evolved.

And how it underlined the famous MN saying that most breakfast cereals are shit in a box.

Although he did slightly upset me by referencing tincture of condensed soup in his final summing up grin

ExitPursuedByAKoalaBear Sun 22-Jun-14 10:01:54

Tincture? How Dickensian. I meant tin.

MaryWestmacott Sun 22-Jun-14 10:18:11

Thing is, I don't know any overweight person who doesn't know that they would lose weight if they just ate no crap, less in general and moved more - yet most have tried various groups and fads, cut this out, cut that out, trying to make it more complex than it is, because if it's not complex, then it's just that I have made poor choices. It's got to be complex, then I've got an excuse for having not just thought of this and done it myself.

Only thing that worked for me was MFP because that was just about logging what you are eating, not telling you what not to eat, just pointing out what is in your food. It's entirely down to you what you eat, in what order. You stay fat if you continue to eat biscuits, you lose weight if you fill up on real food.

There is no magic pill, there is no arrangment of eating that will make chocolate cake a sensible choice. So no one wants to hear it.

MaryWestmacott Sun 22-Jun-14 10:20:06

oh and every proper nutritionist I've met eats like this and tells you to.

AnyoneForTennis Sun 22-Jun-14 10:38:15

Yes op, paleo is often called the 'caveman' way of eating

I read here on MN last week about the dairy industry. Didn't really take much of it in board as I'm not a massive dairy eater... But what did stick out was the mindset of many MNers! They wouldn't consider any other food source for calcium! Would take decades to get any message through I think

Sounds an interesting book tho

ThePowerOfMe Sun 22-Jun-14 11:25:28

Every traditional diet is good, including the western ones. The traditional English diet of 'meat and 2 veg', 3 meals a day is great as long as its made from basic unprocessed ingredients.

You'd be surprised at how many people don't know how to eat healthily. Marketing of processed food is makes people think its a suitable and healthy food. Look at the Nutella advert. I wouldn't blame anyone for actually thinking its a healthy food because that's how the advert portrays it.

I believe most people who know not to eat crap and still reach out for easy, processed options is because of time and effort. Some people really don't have the time, some don't realise that it doesn't really take much time and some people just can't be bothered.

NutellaLawson Sun 22-Jun-14 11:33:33

Did someone call?

Yes that's what is so crazy about it all. If you think about the statement that we should all avoid processed food, eat plenty of fruit and veg and cut out refined carbs, we think 'Yes, I know that'. So why do we pour millions into the diet industry?

The point is that people used to eat fairly healthily without having to follow advice about it or turn it into a regime of some kind. It is very very hard to get out of that mindset. Here I am going on about how this book has freed me from the diet trap, but I am still having to stop my brain from trying to turn that new attitude into yet another new kind of regime for me to slavishly follow! It is hard to even imagine what it would have been like to just eat natural foods without there being any other choice. To eat as much as you could because excessive amounts were not available. To enjoy luxuries without guilt because they were fewer and were mostly not that bad for you anyway because they were not made of processed crap. What must it have been like not to worry about what you were eating every single day?

tobysmum77 Sun 22-Jun-14 19:36:15

its nonsense that the traditional Western diet is worse than all others. We don't have anywhere near the biggest obesity issues in the uk than elsewhere.

It's interesting because I am a recent ww graduate (lost a stone and a half, originally aimed for a stone) and the simple fact is that protein and veg work for me as the main staples. I do eat carbs but only wholegrain and not for every meal.

someone was going on about the German diet earlier, Erm I think you'll find they are fatter than us. Will try and find the link its very surprising.

tobysmum77 Sun 22-Jun-14 19:37:58

[[ http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18770328]]

FellReturneth Sun 22-Jun-14 19:44:43

Yes. He is right. I leaned this myself about 13 years ago, courtesy of the brilliant, brave but much maligned maverick Dr Robert Atkins. Sadly he did not live iong enough to see virtually every doctor, dietician, nutritionist and supposed fitness expert who had previously declared him a charlatan and a laughing stock, eat their words. Now, just about everyone working in the world of health and nutrition is falling over themselves to make his argument sound like their own.

FellReturneth Sun 22-Jun-14 19:47:26

And I must add that he was not the only one. Leslie Kenton, Gary Taubes et al have to take some of the credit too.

MarshaBrady Sun 22-Jun-14 19:51:03

Low carb doesn't have to be a quick fix diet peddled by the diet industry. It's pretty much a way to eat mostly plants and unprocessed food. And is sustainable.

I read that Guardian article and found it very interesting that a nutritional body is funded by coke, Danone lots if others that pump sugar out there.

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