I’ve always liked the expression “all things in moderation.” I’m not sure it represents some sort of universal law, but it seems to be a reasonable attitude with which to approach most situations in life. It suits my personality, too, because I like novelty and variety while I resist both excesses and prohibitions. When it comes to food, this sort of mindset means I wouldn’t categorically say no to any class of food—vegetables, meat, dairy, alcohol, junk food, and genetically modified organisms are all valid options. However, I try to be aware of the nutritional properties and likely health implications of what I eat, and to make food choices deliberately. So I’ll eat that occasional crème brûlée without guilt, but I’ll probably also back off on sugars and carbs the next day.
The problem is, I can’t always figure out whose opinions about nutrition and health I should believe. Among the many paths to optimal health I’ve heard are these: avoid all carbohydrates and eat mostly protein; eat only plant products; eat only fruits; eat just one particular fruit; take vitamins; stay away from vitamins. I’ve heard that eggs are bad for your health; I’ve heard that they’re great for your health. Ditto for coffee and wine. I’ve heard that foods like honey and tea will help you live to be 100 and that they’ll lead to an early grave. Many of these contradictory claims were made by trained health professionals with years of experience, and have a stack of studies and anecdotal reports supporting them. For this reason, I take any proclamation about a particular diet’s virtues with a large pinch of kosher salt. [Article Continues…]