Why It’s So Hard to Know What to Eat
Inadequate science, lousy advice and heavy marketing concoct a stew of confusion
Bombarded with conflicting recommendations from scientists, pseudoscientists, friends and relatives on what foods are the absolute healthiest or the most deadly, best or worst for the environment, ethically acceptable or morally unacceptable, we might sometimes feel like there’s nothing left to eat.
Why is this so hard?
Studying diet and nutrition is no picnic, for starters. It’s impossible to conduct an airtight, systematic, clinical study on how one particular food affects any of us, let alone all of us. A scientist can’t ask test subjects to eat only one thing for weeks or months. And while studies aim to account for “confounding factors” like genetics, demographics, health status and behaviors, it’s never certain whether some unknown habit or circumstance affects results.
That doesn’t make research irrelevant, but it’s nearly impossible for any single nutrition study to prove cause and effect. Over time, though, facts build toward virtually inevitable conclusions, and helpful advice emerges.
How to Eat: Facts and Fallacies about Healthy Food
Chew on these science-based, common-sense ways to eat better
Yet it’s frustrating when dietary recommendations change, as they often do.
- Butter is the devil/butter is back (neither is accurate).
- Wine is good for the heart (actually, all alcohol is bad for you).
- Eggs are good/bad/good/bad (the advice remains scrambled).
Then there are numerous other challenges and concerns around eating well.
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Environmental and ethical concerns
- Food deserts, in which millions of Americans are surrounded by numerous fast-food restaurants but miles from any grocery store
- Healthy foods that don’t taste as good as they used to or have had nutrients bred out of them