The demonisation of food

It never ceases to amaze me how far the media can dictate our own opinions, most namely around food. Of late it seems that the two most sacred pillars of food, fulfilment and enjoyment, have been shrouded by deep and dark clouds of shame and guilt. Of course, food trends are inevitable and fairly harmless –whilst I have no doubt that shoulder pads will make a reappearance in years to come, so has the avocado emerged from its prawn-festooned grave and reinvented itself as the perfect toast-topper in a glittering, sanctimonious fanfare. Yet trends are a very different thing to the vilification of food that plagues the way we see what we eat now. Food is now subdivided into heroes and villains; expect considerable kudos for wolfing down chia seeds, quinoa and kale at regular intervals. Contemplate consuming sugar, gluten or processed meats, however, and you can expect to spend an eternity languishing in the pits of hell. Of course, the ascension of self-labelled health gurus such as the likes of Ella Woodward or the Hemsley sisters (whose relative beauty adds insult to injury) have only made things worse by pulling the woollen hat of deception over the all-too-ignorant eyes of the nation. It seems to me that people are far too quick to accept and adopt their campaigns with very little scrutiny to argument. Whilst Ella Woodward fiercely advocates giving up ‘refined sugar, gluten, dairy, anything processed or refined, and meat’, how can this be an appropriate diet for the masses when her motivation was the management of her own postural tachycardia syndrome? Similarly, the Hemsley sisters justify their damnation of gluten since ‘It breaks down the microvilli in your small intestine, eventually letting particles of your food leech into your bloodstream’ which is certainly the case…but only if you have the auto-immune defect ceoliac disease. The very fact that there have been so many fad diets in the last decade (Atkins, Dukan, no-salt, no-carb, no-solids…) is very telling of their crushing inffectuality. I’m afraid that the holy grail of eating well lies in the mundane; moderation and balance. You don’t have to be a ‘superfoodie’ to see that eating vast amounts of fat and sugar is unwise, but a wedge of chocolate cake is hardly going to kill you; that, surely, is mere common sense. Frankly, if you can’t muster the will power to eat in moderation, don’t blame the food, blame yourself. As Nigella Lawson, the font of all culinary – and any other field for that matter – wisdom says, ‘life is about balance, not being smug’.


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