Not a simple calorie equation.
10 M&Ms = ~100 calories 1 banana = ~100 calories
Does that make them equal?
This is why I (almost) never teach calorie counting. I know that it does work for some people, and I’m not trying to make less of that. But when you focus on calories instead of whole food, you are practicing something called nutritionism…viewing food as the sum of its parts or nutrient content.
You expressed a lot of great thoughts on Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food (see comments on my last post)…his work is controversial, especially since he is a journalist and not a nutrition expert.
But, I do want to point out some things…tough things, that I think are important to take away from In Defense of Food.
- Our eating system is messed up in the United States. While Pollan goes into detail about how different dietary recommendations over the years (including “discoveries” made by nutrition scientists) have done more harm than help, I think we’d all agree that America’s current diet is anything but nutritious.
- We are not asking enough questions. Although Pollan is a journalist, the things he addresses in his book (the lipid hypothesis, eating whole foods, etc.) are not rocket science. Many dietitians and nutrition scientists (myself included) need to take more responsibility and ask good questions…where do our recommendations come from? Do we make recommendations blindly or just go with what the diet manual tells us? Do we really know the physiology behind each disease state?! We all need to be informed consumers and know where our food comes from…because that directly affects its nutritional content!
- The food industry is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with fat free, sugar free anything. When fat is taken out, more chemicals (or sugar) are added. Adding nutrients to a candy bar does not make it more healthful. We have such a distorted relationship with food that we believe that the nutrients in a food are the only things that make it valuable.
- Nutrition science is still valuable. Eating should be simple, but it’s not. No matter if our eating habits alone got us here, we have many diseases that require special diets, and a working knowledge of nutrients and the way the interact with one another is needed.
I know that this post is going to come off kinda pushy to some of you. But these are things that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately because they affect me as a dietitian….and I know many of you also care about these things because they affect you as a consumer of food! I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I addressed above…
In other news…I have been doing a lot of writing and revising (a draft of my second ever journal article was sent off to the editor today!)
and cleaning: am I the only one who has to mop the kitchen floor after baking anything?! Note: this task is best completed while wearing awesome rainboots…
and going to the symphony, which made me miss music a whole lot.