Pick up a magazine or newspaper and flick through to the lifestyle section. You know – the bit with the beautiful models who look like they spend hours exercising everyday but never raise a sweat. It’s the section where famous people tell us about their “secrets”. Special diets and regimes that, they say, have unlocked the key to healthy and fulfilling lives. Why do we listen to listen to celebrities and not nutritionists and other scientists?
A recent article run by the Fairfax stable of newspapers hits the nail on the head.
It’s partly because dietary advice and nutrition science have focused too much on single nutrients rather than patterns of eating, says Dr Gyorgy Scrinis, lecturer in food and nutrition politics and policy at the University of Melbourne.
This “nutritionism”, as it’s become known, has made it easier to vilify or celebrate single food components such as sugar or omega-3 fats, rather than considering the overall quality of the foods they’re part of, he points out.
I’m not a psychologist but it’s pretty clear that we all want to live healthier lives and they, if there’s a shortcut to that goal, we’re prepared to take it.
A healthy diet is not about removing something specific from your diet (the exception is, of course, where a specific medical condition or allergy makes an otherwise nutritionally valuable food into a poison). A healthy diet is about balance.
For example, celebrity chef and poster boy for the paleo movement Pete Evans says
“Enjoy fruit in small amounts. Occasionally eating a small amount of seasonal fruit is optional (but not necessary) while following the paleo way.”
From Family Food
There’s nothing wrong with eating fresh fruit. Although it does contain sugar (something that is essential for our bodies) it also contains fiber and other important nutrients.
When you read an article by a famous person telling you about a specific health treatment or diet they swear by, ask yourself if the advice passes a basic sanity test and then look into the actual science behind their claims and not just their personal endorsement.
Just because Gwyneth Paltrow steam cleans her vagina doesn’t make it right!