Friday, December 5, 2014

Alarmism Is Alive and Well

This is more of an op-ed post, I suppose.  Sometimes it's hard for me not to seethe a little, reading the stuff I read by "experts."

I just read this article about Food Babe and her fearmongering style.  Like many in my industry, Food Babe may (*may*) have good intentions, but may be causing more problems than she's solving.  While there are certainly a lot of ingredients in food (particularly stuff that comes in packages) that shouldn't be there, a lot of the information Ms. Babe gives is only partially informed or misunderstood.

Confused?  Yeah, I'm not surprised.


She's not alone, though.  I am inundated with emails with titles like, "The ONE Food You Should NEVER Eat That You Probably Have In Your Cabinet RIGHT NOW" or "The ONE Food That Will Make All Your Gains Go Out The Window" and that sort of thing.  Yesterday, I saw a status from a well-known fitness professional stating, and I quote, that "Plants are as dangerous to eat as pufferfish."

Beans are bad.
Plants are bad.
Fruit is bad.
Wheat is bad.
Carbs are bad. 
Sugar is bad.  No, wait-- it's good.  No, it's bad again.

Seriously, it's getting a little ridiculous.  Should we all be air-itarians?  Oh, no wait-- air pollution.

There is currently no research that I am aware of that assesses the health effects of a mostly meat and fat diet (as the Pufferfish Guy follows), but there is plenty about plant consumption.  I would imagine that eating minimal plant foods would cause pretty serious nutrition imbalances, but that's just me.  I have posted time after time about the myriad health benefits of plants.  Here's more fuel for the fire, should you need it:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/517S.short
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/544S.short
http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jcem.83.7.4752
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/502S.short
and both raw and cooked vegetables have merit, so consume both:  http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/13/9/1422.short

I have, in the past, discussed at length the beans and grains issue.

Oh, and hey-- you don't need to ditch healthy carbs to lose weight (and chances are, you'll feel better if you don't).  

Another thing to consider would be this:  people telling you not to eat THIS ONE COMMON FOOD or THIS TOXIC INGREDIENT YOU ALWAYS THOUGHT WAS HEALTHY are often selling something.  Buy their book/DVD/program and learn about the TWENTY "HEALTHY" FOODS THAT WILL KILL YOU.  You see the link?  Fear, like sex, sells.

So what to do about Food Babe and all the fearmongering out there?  Well, here's my take (and this is nothing I haven't really said before):

-Don't eat stuff that makes you feel bad.
-Don't eat stuff that you have discovered makes your health worse.
-Eat as close to nature as possible most of the time.
-Don't believe every alarmist piece of craziness you read.
-Do your own research-- but read the science, not the hype.  Here is a decent guide to choosing your sources wisely.  Keep in mind that there are numerous conflicting studies in the realm of nutrition and fitness, and it can be confusing out there.  The landscape is always changing.  That's part of what makes it so interesting.

My point is, take everything you read with a grain of salt until you've delved into the facts.

Wait... salt is bad.  No, it's good.  No, it's bad again.


Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

8 comments:

  1. I remember when the egg was bad then good then just the yolks were bad then good. The banana was so bad then it became a super food. I feel the same way as you do. Eat what makes you feel good as close to the earth as you can!

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    1. Oh, superfoods... that's a whole 'nother blog post. :)

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  2. Don't eat bananas to cure cancer. :)

    http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/ripe-bananas-prevent-cancer/

    But do eat bananas because they taste delicious.

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    1. I don't like bananas, so I just scientifically disproved your statement of their deliciousness (n = 1). ;)

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    2. Perhaps I'll publish a meme about it.

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  3. I love your blog, and I so agree with this: "Eat as close to nature as possible most of the time." I have been following a fat-burning meal plan (from www.cooktostayfit.com) and I have been trying to eat healthily as much as possible since 2012! I'm still eating carbs but increased my protein intake. I've decided to prepare my own meals and not to be destroyed by those fastfoods! Also allowed me to save bucks! :) Happy New Year to you!

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  4. I'm so happy I came across this! More than once have these types of material sent me into panic. And I stopped following Food Babe a long time ago because she just made me feel plain evil. This was a refreshing read. No matter if I'm doing what's best for me, chances are it would be bad for someone else. We should do what's best for *our* bodies and let go of the rest. Thanks again for sharing this!

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    1. Glad you found it helpful, Kendra!! Never let anyone else make you feel bad about your choices, as long as they're not hurting anyone else. Your choices are your own to make.

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