How is it that "no food is healthy. Not even kale."

This might be interesting for the Hungry Onion readers:

I would counter that with “any food can be healthy, even bacon”.

It’s all about moderation and smart eating.


I think Ruhlman is on target. He just made a distinction between and health and nutrition. They are not the same

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Yes, I agree with his semantics here - foods are nutritious, not healthy. I would take that a step further to say that foods that are not nutritious can also be deleterious to one’s health.

I disagree entirely. While bacon is a nutritious food, sugar is not and never can be.

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Well, neither is drinking food coloring, but I wasn’t being 100% literal. Sugar is indeed nutritionally-empty calories. The implication of a nutritional diet is that you shouldn’t limit yourself to “healthy foods”, but that ‘bad foods’ can be used in moderation as part of the whole.

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“And until we have better information and clearer shared language defining our food, smart choices will be ever harder to make.”
This last sentence is the essence of the article and I can completely get behind it. Makes me even madder about the recent FDA ruling that country of origin labeling on meat will not be required.

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Not only is sugar empty calories, it is actively deleterious to your health. While most people can eat it in moderation without immediately negative effects, it has no place in a nutritious diet that is meant to improve one’s health. Does this mean I never eat it? No, but I accept that I am effectively poisoning myself when I do.

Thank you for your opinion.

I think a little vice in our life do make us happier. Also without complete information, maybe sugar, 1 day like what we had done to egg and animal fat, will get back some justice. But for the time being, my real problem with sugar is killing my teeth in an amazing speed.

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I certainly don’t eat and drink only nutritious food and drink. There is pleasure in some of the bad things we do consume but I take it as a risk I’m willing to accept which enhances the enjoyment of life. I don’t want to live to 100


Remember, Choco-Marshmallow Sugarbombs are part of a “healthy” breakfast.
The word has lost all meaning when it comes to food.

This conversation piggy backs on another on going on Chowhound references Michael Pollan’s article about America’s approach to food.

I’m not going to post a super long rambling post, which this conversation almost requires to “cya” on all accounts - but . . . this article in conjunction with Pollan point to a need for us to figure out how to change our conversation about food. We have to figure out a way to stop talking about “food components”, which IMHO fuels the problem and confusion, and start talking about “whole foods” again. The human body’s biology and our foods can’t be reduced to “components” and trying to do so - or being forced to do so by big industry - is going to keep failing.

Sugar isn’t evil. Do we eat too much, yes. But sugar is an essential part of how our body functions. All carbohydrates are broken down in our bodies into sugar. We need sugar. And then in our effort to avoid “the evil sugar” we end up eating all sorts of chemicals and filler crap that they use to replace the sugar and then can put in huge letters on the label “Sugar Free” or “No added sugar”. Fruits are good for us - they have high sugar contents. Don’t avoid fruit.

The conversation needs to somehow come back to whole foods. We need to talk about eating “spinach” for example . . . . not about getting enough iron . . . . Or talk about eating more vegetables . . . not that we’re not getting enough fiber . . . . . Our foods can’t be broken down and discussed in terms of their components, they are more than the sum of their parts.


Didn’t read the articles but want to add that changing the conversation about “food” ought to include, in my view, changing it away from focusing on which foods we eat to focusing on the whole activiity of eating as a fundamental part of life.

Not very long ago there was a study of the Mediterranean diet that tried to figure out which compenents of it contributed most to longevity. They studied an area of Greece where people live a lot longer than the European/global norm. What the researchers concluded was that it was less important what these Greeks ate than the local tradition to eat meals with other people in groups. Sharing a common lunch in particular was a ritual and a path to conversation and renewing human relationships one-to-one and all the social goods that follow, which are probably too numerous to name but ultimately prove life-saving, including the willingness of other people in your community to help you through illness and in your old age if they’ve been eating lunch with you every day.

Of course, if one draws the conclusion from that study that group eating at MacDonald’s, scarfing down industrial french fries, industiral cheese “products” and industrial “milkshakes” will cancel out the other ill effects, wrong conclusions.

“Holistic” means “whole” and not just “whole foods.” It means the whole you, the whole social and evironmental set up, the whole world as far as you can see it – which is pretty much the opposite of solo swinger Anthony Bourdain going on another foodie adventure to have a 5-second thrill somewhere eating some isolated taste in some unique place he’s parachuted himself into with a camera crew, to tell you “Now this is living.” It isn’t that. It’s poison and propaganda for an utterly destructive way of life and everybody’s understanding of health and good food. :skull:

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Actually, we don’t. The human body is 100% capable of functioning without ingesting carbohydrates of any kind. The body can convert protein into glucose through gluconeogenesis for those few functions that require it. @StoneSoup is the forum expert on these matters, so perhaps she’ll weigh in here as well.

You can both be right. These statements are not mutually exclusive.

Well I’m glad we have a forum expert on these matters.

Yes the body CAN convert protein into glucose, however this is not the primary pathway for the body to produce the essential and primary energy source of our body - sugar. Yes we can function on other sources of energy (i.e. ketones) but they are not our biologically determined primary energy source. Converting protein to glucose is also a very slow and relatively stable process so it is insufficient to supply an energy source under changing energy needs. But I’m happy to let the forum expert way in as well.

Regardless - both processes produce sugar.


There is a tiny glucose requirement by the brain daily, much less than any suitable amount of protein in the diet will supply. There is no dietary sugar requirement in human biology, nor any dietary carb that’s essential the way fat and protein are. I really don’t want to get into a protracted debate over and over again, I’ll leave it to this nutrition researcher to discuss:

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Well, yeah, they are, when they are present and glucose isn’t abundant. Endurance athletes adapt to ketosis as a steady state within 3 weeks without loss of performance, for example. Glucose as a primary fuel for cancers is something ketones don’t do, also. They disadvantage abnormal cell growth in studies.

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Both good points. Thanks for the input - I always tend to be myopic when thinking about these things and forget how resilient our bodies can be when needed.

For me, my errors reinforce for me that having the conversation funnel down to “pieces and parts” instead of holistic foods makes things confusing and fogs our ability to see what may be the issue in 2015 in America. Sort of a missing the forest for the trees kind of thing.

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There is no one optimal diet for every individual, so many factors go into determining that. But there are certain biochemical processes that are well established. Still, we can get focused on one and forget all the downstream effects of the sum of all the influences.

ETA; it is a lot more fun to talk about how all this stuff tastes and how to go about making it anyhoo, right?

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