Dalrymple addresses diet books in this British Medical Journal column (subscription required):
When I was a boy my mother had a book with the title Eat and Grow Beautiful. As my mother was already beautiful I could not see the point of her having the book but supposed that it was because of the author’s splendid name: Gayelord Hauser. For myself, I was disappointed that however much I ate I did not grow beautiful. Perhaps it was because I ate all the wrong things, such as chocolate biscuits. If I hadn’t eaten so many I should have been a film star by now.All flesh is grass, of course, but few of us are a well tended lawn. Just how many of us are dissatisfied with ourselves, and look to food to right what nature and our previous habits have denied us, was brought home to me the other day when, at something of a loose end, I slipped into a secondhand bookshop. The section of diet books was larger than that devoted to economics, which proves that Doctor Johnson (as usual) was right: public affairs vex no man. We are all characters in our own soap opera.….Do authors of diet books really believe what they write? Here I remember the answer a bestselling author (and convicted confidence trickster) once gave when asked whether he believed his own theory that many human monuments had been constructed by aliens from outer space, in his strong German accent: “The outline yes; the details no.”
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, though not fat, the subject of nutrition has – for health reasons – taken me captive. I’m ashamed because I feel I’m flirting with today’s neopagan cult of the body.
At any rate, I would recommend the following to those interested in the topic. They all challenge current orthodoxy:
Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes
Here’s the famous Taubes article on which the above book is based:
The movie Fat Head, which is a rebuttal to Super Size Me:
By the same filmmaker, [Food] Science for Smart People:
Taubes on Sugar:
I suspect that, remembering the quote offered by our man recently, I’ll eventually ignore all this and just eat anything I want. This could be part of recipe for happiness.
“The world, said Boswell, should not be turned into a great hospital. A meal is not to be treated as if it were a medical procedure. If everyone could live a year longer by never eating his favorite food, would the light be worth the candle? Conversely, if life could be prolonged by eating something detestable, would it be worth living?”
I plead guilty as well, Jackson. In a couple of hours I’ll have my brown rice, steamed vegetables and lean chicken breast, then it’s off to the gym.
I know, I know….
You use the gym? Shame on you… so do I
Merry Christmas… don’t drink too much – I intend to drink quite a lot and eat a lot… mmmm yummy cakes and ale!
Well I’m pleased to report that I was true to my intention.