HuffPo Nutrition Orthodoxy Censors Screwed Up

As you know I often rant about the sheer stupidity of many/most nutrition “advice” articles, usually on the simple grounds that they totally avoid facts and just spread some consensus, sorta-leftie nonsense (which embarrasses me as a card-carrying leftie). The main showcase of this junk, at least that I see, in the dogmatic sections of the Huffington Post food and nutrition pages (Ariana must really be crazy about super-scientists (and book shills) Pollan and Bittman). Anyway to see something vaguely sane published there is a big surprise, so I was shocked by this article8 Things Nutrition Experts Wish You Would Stop Saying About Food.

Now actually this article is no more scientific or fact-based than any of the others at HuffPo, but at least it calls out the claims it is denouncing as having little or no merit. Gosh, combined with John Oliver’s outting of Dr. OZ and the supplements industry maybe the cloud of mysticism and woo on human health is beginning to let in a little light.

Now the surprisingly realistic articles denounces:

  1. detox (enough said, obvious nonsense)
  2. good and bad, as labels for foods (right, but I would have gone further and denouncing the even stupider all calories are not the same as there are good and bad ones – learn a little physics and thermodynamics, please, before such stupid)
  3. clean as label for food (yep, I really love eating dirty food, oh, gosh, isn’t that “organic”, a little dirt and a few bugs)
  4. low-carb (remember low-fat, low-carb will have the same fate)
  5. gluten-free (I think this is the one that most reveals how insane nutrition freaks are. The typical person trying to eliminate gluten from their diet has no clue what gluten is nor how, in the rare cases, it actually affect human health. This fad is so silly it is totally unsustainable and shows how ridiculous diet fads are.)
  6. fruit has too much sugar (I was wondering how long this contradiction would take to be noticed. Generally “natural” and unprocessed is wonderful, so what could be bad about an apple or bunch of grapes. Of course, these contain that awful ingredient, fructose, that must be made in evil chemical plants somewhere and contaminates fruit – oh, wait, a minute, fructose is naturally occurring. Even the much denounced high fructose corn syrup has merely enriched (as in Iran enriching U235, as undoubtedly the fanatical foodies would use as metaphor) the naturally occurring fructose. But fruit itself then was the collateral damage and of course good old organic and natural fruit, which was the main diet element of our primitive ancestors, can’t be trashed at the same time as we trash ConAgra or Cargill.)
  7. breakfast is the most important meal of the day (Now can we finally lay this stupid myth to rest! possibly the most common at HuffPo or at least tied with sleep and drink water)
  8. made with simple ingredients (Yeah, food (all food) consists of elements, like carbon and nitrogen and oxygen and hydrogen and a few others traces, which are in term made of protons, neutrons and electrons – yep, all food reduces to just three ingredients. Now ding-a-ling Pollan would denounce any ingredient your grandmother didn’t know or you can’t pronounce, like eicosapentaenoic acid or docosahexaenoic acid (clue these are examples of omega-3 fatty acids, which of course Pollan, after denouncing nutritionism (focusing on a single nutrient) raves on and on about, violating his own dictum of “simple” foods. RIP on this one. And, btw, folks who want simple, what’s in bread: in case you’ve never baked, flour, water, yeast, and salt – how much simpler can you get, but of course you denounce bread based on #4 and #5.

So clearly the editors at HuffPo slipped up letting this article through. Or maybe it’s their token “balance” article. Or maybe they were just so high on kale and acai smoothies they didn’t notice it. But it’s going to take a lot more than one semi-sensible article to undo years of steady woo peddling.

But the article doesn’t go quite far enough as there are a ton of additional nonsense woo terms to detox out of any rational discussion of food and nutrition. I haven’t got time to go back and create a full list which would at least number in the hundreds range so here are a few off the top of my head:

  1. paleo, when with this nonsense fad end
  2. GMO, hey, folks, at least put some science accuracy in what you denounce, all your food is GMO so at least describe the technique and genes involved in what you denounce
  3. organic, now that Walmart is the biggest seller of this can we put this to rest
  4. local, oh sure, lots of local greens available in the midwest in the winter
  5. free-range, hey folks, have you ever even seen a cow or pig or chicken
  6. whole, as in wheat or grain, you see whole wheat flour is magical and white flour is poison, despite both containing 85% the exact same stuff, study Peter Reinhart and make your own bread rather than freaking out about supermarket stuff
  7. macrobiotic, come on, just say germs instead of a euphemism for bacteria
  8. toxic, come guys, start dealing with dose, as in LD50. Remember the purest water there is is very toxic if you stick your head under it for about 7 minutes. sugar is no more toxic than quinoa, you fools,.
  9. processed, oh yeah, baby, go eat your freshly killed meat with just you teeth, or for you vegans without washing your produce or for you yogurt or olive oil freaks, directly from cows or trees. All food is processed!
  10. nutritionist: let’s see, are there really any meaningful credentials for this to begin with
  11. integrative, rebranding of CAM, but still just as stupid
  12. … more and more but I haven’t got a week and WordPress won’t give me enough storage to write them all up. Michael and Mark – go take some high school level (as college level would be too tough for you) courses on real science, you know, stuff like physics and chemistry and math and molecular biology, and then write books




About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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2 Responses to HuffPo Nutrition Orthodoxy Censors Screwed Up

  1. kimjoyh says:

    I agree with all of the above – particularly the gluten free and low carb craze – bread isn’t bad! They did a study recently on the gluten intolerance thing:

    • dmill96 says:

      Thanks for the link, I’m surprised Michael Pollan shows some sense on this issue since he tends to spin out of control on many others (maybe he’s had a falling out with extremist Mark Bittman).

      It’s a kind of herd hysteria. Some people have a real problem and it’s good they’ll get attention and some products they can consume. But why 10x-30x more people think they have the same issue is still amazing to me. Of course, people can eat what they want and 95% of the gluten-free crowd will be off on some new hated ingredient a few years from now. I hope they learn. The real key is moderation. Bread is fine, but it needs to fit into the calorie budget each person needs.

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