For starters there are so many different versions of what it is to be healthy (see examples above) that they’re contradicting themselves anyway.
Paleo is the very opposite of vegan, yet both will proclaim their way is right.
The Angry Chef, aka 44-year-old Anthony Warner, has spent the last 10 years creating recipes for the likes of Oxo, Mr Kipling, Loyd Grossman and Ambrosia, hardly up there with chia seeds and pomegranate juice, you might say, so does his very blunt opinion count when we need to be doing all we can to improve our nation’s health?
But his polar opposition, ‘the bloggers’, might not be any more reliable;
“How can you look at NHS guidelines on how to eat healthily and go, ‘Well, I know better than that’? Maybe if you were a professor of dietetics or nutrition, you might disagree with some stuff. But how as a 19-year-old blogger you can look at it and go, ‘No, that’s wrong. This is right,’ I don’t know.”
And that’s the point isn’t it, everyone is claiming to be an expert and that their way is the way, not taking into account personal preferences, circumstances, or even science.
Warner believes with are living a ‘strange world of false belief’ and the word ‘superfood’ is as viable as unicorns in his fridge.
When I saw The Angry Chef having an angry rant in The Guardian it made me giggle, but it also made me want to expand on and clarify some of the things he said, as it’s likely so far only made you even more confused.
Angry Chef Says: “When people say, “I’m detoxing,” what they’re saying is, “I’m not eating for two days.” It’s just an extreme weight-loss diet, but you make up toxins that aren’t there and say, “I’m doing this to get rid of these toxins” – which your body will do naturally anyway. It creates fear around food.”
I say: The detox pathways in the body are complex and are mostly done automatically without much effort on our part. Your skin, digestive system, liver, kidneys, lungs and lymph nodes do a fantastic job. The process itself involves, amongst other things, amino acids, found in protein. A diet of vegetable juice for a few days is very low in amino acids, so it doesn’t make sense to ‘detox’ on a juice diet. Eating very few calories (fruit and vegetables) makes anyone lose weight. It’s got nothing to do with detoxing. Taking a bigger view, eating a lot less junk and a lot more vegetables is good for everyone, so that is one lifestyle change we could all do with. Just not because we need a ‘detox’.
Read this afterwards to > Juicing For Weight Loss
Angry Chef Says: “The paleo diet is just a low-carb diet given a pseudoscientific justification. We’ve been eating carbohydrates for a very long time, but they’ll just go, “Well, a caveman ate meat.” They have this idea from The Flintstones, but anyone who works in anthropology will say, “No, they’re obviously wrong.”
I say: The thing I hate most about the Paleo diet is simply the name. It implies, strict, regimented, dogmatic, and restrictive. Paleo is actually about the type of foods eaten, not necessarily amount, so Warner’s comments about low carb are a bit of a moot point. Foods permitted are very nutritious and certainly provide everything you need if you eat the right amounts of calories, protein, carbs and fats for your personal needs. But I agree the dogma is a little extreme – there are many people who do fine eating dairy and grains, and high fibre legumes and beans have a tonne of health benefits.
The Angry Chef Says: “It’s linked to wanting women to get back into the kitchen: “Natural home-cooked meals are the only way to be healthy … Things were better before women went to work.” Underlying the demonisation of convenience food, there is a lot of misogyny. “Things were better in our grandmother’s day” – were they?”
I say: It completely depends on what you’re cooking at home, versus what you’re buying out. Homemade freshly cooked chips are still chips. But a McDonalds chicken salad has protein and vegetables. Yes, home cooked food is likely to be a little fresher, and there’s always the option to customise a meal to your needs and preferences unlike with a ready meal. But to say cooking from scratch is essential for health is missing a lot of other factors that come into choosing the right food for you, irrespective of whether ‘time to cook’ comes into it.
The Angry Chef Says: “Sugar has an enormous amount of energy and is one of the most important building blocks for life. But they say, “It has no nutritional value.” That makes absolutely no sense.”
I say: a Mars bar could save a starving child’s life. It’s about context and perspective. Sugar is just one type of food. Some people need more than others – marathon runners wouldn’t be able to get to the end without some sort of sugar as the body simply does not store enough to last that long exercising. At the other end a person with poor insulin sensitivity (diabetes) may react negatively with even small amounts. Sugar will only lead to weight gain if it contributes to extra calories, which is easily done since refined sugar isn’t very filling at all. And too much sugar will likely lead to energy rollercoasting and cravings for more sweet foods. In fact this is one of the main issues my Mums have when they first come to me. But to call sugar toxic is a step too far – it’s still food, even if not the most nutritious of substances.
The Angry Chef Says: “People will have a ready-meal from Waitrose and say, “I’m busy.” Then they’ll say poor people should just stop buying fishfingers: “But I can go to M&S and buy my haddock goujons, that’s not bad for me, is it?”
I say: What is processed food anyway? Honey is totally natural from the hive, but it is pure sugar (see previous point) so you couldn’t eat it all day long. Avocados are a natural whole food, but since they’re ‘healthy’ people think they can eat loads, not realising all those calories are contributing to weight gain. On the other hand a decent beef burger made with quality ground mince and cooked has been ‘processed’, then topped with a slice of cheese which has gone through various ‘processing’ methods to create it from milk. But those offer protein, iron, b vitamins and calcium. Homemade cake is still made of refined flour and sugar, but a ‘processed’ snack bar might be 100% naturally made from nuts and dried fruit. The confusion mostly comes from marketing.
There is so much detailed information around what’s good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, it’s no wonder everyone gets confused and argues over it.
Because everyone is looking for one single answer, when in fact our dietary needs are very individual, yet not nearly as complicated as you’d think.
If it’s all got too confusing and overwhelming then come and join my free Facebook community group where you can ask me questions and get clarification on things you’ve read or heard any time, as well as meet other women in the same situation with the same goals as you.