Healthy, Good Eating
Posted 14 December 2003 - 09:29 PM
You've done more than any other mainstream writer to debunk the phobias promoted by the nutritional establishment-- particularly needless prohibitions of healthful fats, salt, and alcohol.
But as recent research seems to confirm more and more of what you've been saying for years, it also seems like there's no easy answer. We in New York City can't, for example, simply eat a lot of duck and drink a lot of wine, and assume we'll have the same low rate of heart disease that they do in the Perigord. It seems there are a number of other factors-- vegetables eaten with the meal, sedentary vs. active lifestyles, portion size, and numerous other things-- that would play into any serious attempt to control one's own risks of this or that terminal condition.
My question for you is this: do you believe that one should try to "eat healthy?" If so, do you? And what does this mean to you? Does this mean that you should limit your intake of any particular, delicious thing, such as some (but not all) animal fat?
Or in the alternative, is it enough to debunk the nutritional fads of today (as you so often do) and try to simply keep a balance in one's life of all things?
And a related follow up: if you're familiar with Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook, I'd like to know your opinion of it.
but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"
Posted 21 December 2003 - 08:47 PM
In 1995, Walter Willett at Harvard wrote an article in Science (a peer-review journal) entitled "What Should We Eat?" He reviewed the literature up to that point. He identified only three foods, as I remember it, that had been reliably linked to chronic disease: trans-fatty acids, unfermented dairy products, and beef--perhaps the red part more than the fat. And that was it. Since then, the Harvard group has taken up the glycemic index and stressed whole grains versus white sugar (and potatoes). They've not found that saturated fat is related to any cancer; the red part of beef may be linked to prostate cancer. There's a way out here, but you have to start early: I've found a peer-reviewed paper showing that your chances of getting a serious case of prostate cancer is lowered if you masterbated a lot in your twenties. They've also found with research in their Nurses' study that eating roughage, e.g. salad, does not lessen your risk of colon cancer. And, of course, that if you reduce your intake of saturated fat but eat the same number of calories, it's much better to increase your intake of vegetable fat than to increase carbohydrates. But that was before they got excited about the glycemic index.
(I was on some panel at the Harvard School of Public health in January 2003, shortly after their work on the glycemic index was published. I bemoaned the stress on whole grains. I pointed out that very few traditional cultures eat brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc. They were unmoved.)
Since then, on a trip to India, my wife and I stayed with two art-history professors who have never tasted animal flesh in their lives. Or eggs. Their protein comes mainly from pulses, grams, beans, lentils, etc. I'll write about this in Vogue. But the result was that I found myself completely satisfied. Although I've ridiculed vegetarians all my professional life, and still do, my recent eating pattern has been largely North Indian vegetarian, with meat mainly in restaurants--oh, plus I also roasted two lambs and a kid in San Diego. It's not a religious thing, for me at least. Nor is it an obsession. And American vegetarian food, with the dreaded crudite at the top of the pyramid, doesn't do the trick. I think it's the combination of stomach-filling lentils and hot spices that satisfy the tongue.
Maybe it's all go away. Maybe I'm under the sway of a sinister Hindu trance. But if the answer to healthy eating is a largely vegetarian diet with whole grains (but not the awful whole wheat American bread), plus mouthwatering forays into steak, game birds, and fish , when you feel like it and when the quality is really high--this would not bother me at all. At least at present. The pastrami and barbecue must be made with the highest artistry.
Posted 22 December 2003 - 12:26 AM
Posted 22 December 2003 - 01:45 AM
Posted 23 December 2003 - 11:24 PM
Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!
"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy
Posted 24 December 2003 - 10:02 AM
Very nicely put, thank you. It's not often I read something written by a lay or professional that puts the state of nutritional science so succinctly.
In 1995, Walter Willett at Harvard wrote an article in Science (a peer-review journal) entitled "What Should We Eat?" He
But I have to point out that saying Science is a peer-reviewed journal is sorta like saying Everest is a tall mountain!