Nutritionism Vs Real Food


mmm…. anti-oxidants

I’m just starting to read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.  The book start’s with this line:

“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly vegetables.”.

Pollan was looking for a simple statement that would tell you what to eat in the face of the uber complex food science industry.  Vitamin fortified, anti-oxidant, low fat, omega three blasted bullshit… most of it.  Hey, it’s got electrolytes!  In a shitstorm of all that…. you can follow his advice and learn to eat right in almost an instant.

Nutritionism Vs Real Food

Of course it’s more complicated than that.  But it’s a great start.  To dive deeper, we need to understand Nutritionism vs Real Food… the path that our food supply, government, and media has drug us down, for better or worse.

In the 20th century, it was decided that science could outsmart real food.  “The Lipid Hypothesis” of the 1950’s drove scientists to develop ways to remove fat from food… making the first “food products”.  As the years went on, and nutritionists (under the guise of science) developed more and more food like substances that were purportedly healthier for us than their real food counterparts… something interesting happened.  We got sicker.  We got fatter.  We got more confused.

And the response was to try to refine the science to isolate and remove more “bad” food elements and add more “good” food elements.  And herein, according to Pollan, lies the problem.  We were now focused on nutrient vs food (or nutritionism vs real food).  We were willing to ditch real, whole foods for synthesized ones that we thought held all the essential elements (called nutrients) that we needed…. and this would result in a healthier diet.

But it’s much more complex than the three macronutrients and various vitamins that science had deemed as “good” and “bad”.  So the this way of eating missed the mark.  And our health reflected it.  The grocery store began to have less and less real food…  with the majority of the store being devoted to new processed “food-like” items.

We have learned much from the nutritionism vs real food experiment since.  Mostly that we were wrong.  Removing fat from the diet did nothing to make us healthier… especially when we just replaced it with process carbohydrates.  And simply adding in nutrients does not help as much as once thought.  It turns out real food is much more complicated than these basic elements.

Nutritionism Vs Real Food

What we have learned most of all though, is that you cannot replace real food.  Eating real food of almost any kind is superior to eating processed food engineered by nutritionists.  Even more, eating a diet consisting of mostly vegetables, fruits, some grains, and limited meat… but all whole food will be infinitely more healthy than the alternative.  Not that our store shelves reflect this.

And why?  Because there is too much money to be made in the engineering and processing of food.  And we will keep eating these products because we are confused.  There are even nifty labels to convince us of the product value.  And we are a trusting people.

I highly recommend reading In Defense of Food and making your own decisions.  I urge everyone that reads this blog to learn as much about food as possible because IT IS that important.  What you learn will impact the quality of your remaining life.  By learning, you can instantly know what to eat and actually enjoy food again.  Because today we are following the trends and fads of the food industry and journalists, leaving us scared shitless of food and still ballooning.  Any enjoyment of food is quickly overshadowed by guilt.

I’m not going to live my remaining 40,000 meals (give or take) that way.

Ryan GillespieRyan Gillespie
Health/Fitness Coach & Trainer

I currently live in sunny San Diego California and work with people around the country as well as Internationally on their health and fitness goals.  Please LIKE me on Facebook and JOIN The Locker Room (Free Accountability and Support group)

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