I need to stop reading nutrition articles on CNN or I might rage and smash my monitor. Here's today's gem: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/11/weight.loss.race/index.html?hpt=C2
The headline is "The bottom-line diet: Eat less"
The whole point of the article is a reiteration of quantity, not quality. They even manage to take a jab at paleo within the first paragraph. Then a few sentences later they reveal that a guy who lost hundreds of pounds changed his diet to "fruits, vegetables, lean meats."
There were no diet pills, shakes or detoxes. And no, it wasn't caveman food, grapefruit, Twinkies, Taco Bell or Subway sandwiches.
Tony Posnanski's 200-pound weight loss was straightforward, almost dull. "I changed the way I ate," said Posnanski, 34, who went from consuming 10,000 calories a day to 2,400. "I got rid of processed foods. I ate fruits, vegetables, lean meats.
My question: how does this garbage make it to the front page? Is the media really that incompetent or are they malicious?
Mainstream media outlets are the processed carbs of mass communication.
I agree with Eva and Dave S. that it's mostly about the garbled message and the demands of style over substance. But to the extent that journalists are to blame even because of their own ideas and intentions, then in my opinion there are three things going on: 1. Puritanism, 2. a sense of superiority, and 3. conceptual difficulty.
There's just a strain of good old fashioned American Puritanism that is suspicious of pleasure. I just think you have to accept its presence and maybe accept that it's not going away soon. It's dangerous because it's combined with a lack of understanding of an important part of paleo: that you might be giving up some pleasure at first, but then once you "get over the hump" then you'll be OK. Once you put in the work to get over the carb addiction then dieting will no longer be a constant struggle from day to day. (You might still have lapses of course, but it won't be as bad as things are with a normal diet.) These journalists just assume it's either i. you indulge in your sugar habit or ii. you fight it every day. They don't see that there's another option in between: you get over the addiction, which is unpleasant, but then things get better. And so if it's only one of those two options, then the Puritanism will guide them (kind of unconsciously) to the second one: fighting every day, sustained willpower.
The sense of superiority the journalists get is even more dangerous here, because they can exhibit it in a way that softens it. So if they thought that some more complex theory were the truth of the matter, then they might be hesitant to write about it with such self-satisfaction, because it would make them seem snooty or stuck-up. But if they think the truth of the matter is good ol' common sense, then it's much safer for them to preach. Because it's everyone else who was getting ahead of themselves with all those complex, kooky theories. The journalist then just calls us all back to common sense, which we all have, so everyone can feel good about reading such a recommendation.
Let's face it, understanding the trick of chapter 17 of Good Calories, Bad Calories is not exactly easy. It's just so tempting for them to say: hey you cavemen, a calorie is a calorie, haven't you taken physics? But of course we don't deny that calories in equals calories out, we just deny that changing that proportion can be the motor for weight loss, and that those two things are independent variables.
You can't always know beforehand if something that someone is trying to explain to you is worth looking into. So it's not necessarily like they've tried to understand the Taubes theory and failed, it's that they haven't even tried to try. And I don't blame them. In my case someone I really liked told me to read GCBC and take it seriously. If he hadn't done that I might have thought the same way.
OK, that was a lot. As you can see I'm frustrated.
Writing a magazine article has nothing whatsoever to do with science. It has to do with being a wordsmith and telling a story. Being clever is way more important than being correct. And if it fits in with "what we already know is true", so much the better.
I've long stopped getting angry at this drivel. The truth is getting out. People are taking notice. Just look at all the comments after stupid articles. People really are getting it.
One problem I see with the media & internet searches is that when I was not paleo, I didn't know what I was not looking for. For example, say I want nutrition advice; conventional wisdom pops up.
....And then a friend tells me that a cow's natural diet is grass not corn.
I think to myself oh, right, everyone is lying to me including the government. Learning about grass-fed has led me to seek other opinions that normally just do not show up in a google search, unless you know to search for them in the first place. I no longer listen to anything remotely related to big food or pharma.
For the most part, I think it's incompetence. The people writing the articles have no more knowledge than the average guy off the street or your average coworker. The nutritionists give conflicting advice. End result is a garbled message that makes no sense. But these kinds of articles sell so they keep writing them anyway.
The other questions are: How do you say it's "fruits, vegetables, lean meats" and say it's not paleo? Have you even read the Paleo diet material? Because eating paleo is all about healthy life-long changes to diet. It's not just a passing fad, it's been around for a LONG time. And I agree with Eva, they do give conflicting advice in the article.
Another thing is their nice recommendation to exercise 1-2 hours every day. Talk about a highly unrealistic goal for the majority of people.
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