Don’t Tell Me What to Eat

Why should I listen to you, anyway?

Since being interviewed for an NPR piece about diet books (read/listen to “Diet Books: Fat On Profits, Skinny On Results?“), I’ve received numerous e-mails and other contacts from folks offering me advice on my diet. Here’s one from today’s e-mail:

I caught the interview you gave on NPR about dieting books.

If you want to learn about health and nutrition read “The China Study”, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD.

All diet books are wrong, because they are about eating less of the same, unhealthy food. If we base our diet on whole, plant-foods, we will drastically reduce our risk of chronic diseases and as a side effect, lose weight. This book shows the huge amount of science available, and it’s really, really interesting!!

Ironically, he recommends a diet book and then says that “all diet books are wrong.” I guess he means all of them except the one he’s recommending. How many other people are saying the same thing with another book? All of them.

I can’t tell you how annoyed I am by this. I began to write the guy a response, but I figured it might be better to just post it here, so everyone can read it:

My friend Tom gave me a copy of The China Study. I gave it away. I am not interested in diet books at all. Period.

And frankly, I’m pretty sick of strangers telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat. You don’t know a damn thing about me. Why do you assume that I eat “unhealthy food”?

I eat fresh vegetables, both raw and cooked simply. I eat fresh fruit, plain yogurt, whole grains. I eat grilled meats and fish. I don’t fry, I don’t eat much processed food, I don’t eat ANY fast food. I don’t drink soda or energy drinks and I don’t use artificial sweeteners. I minimize salt usage and season with fresh herbs whenever I can.

I eat healthier than 90% of the people I know. The other 10% are either vegetarians or misguided fools who follow the advice of books like The China Study and give up the foods they love, hoping to extend their lives by a few years through that sacrifice. All you have to do is eat a nicely marbled grilled steak in front of them to see how they’re suffering.

Life is short. Why shouldn’t I eat what I want to eat — especially when there’s nothing really wrong with it? I don’t want to live forever and I want to enjoy my life. Eating is one of my simple pleasures.

My weight problem — which isn’t even serious, according to my doctor — is due to inactivity and midlife metabolism change. Simply said, I need to eat less and exercise more. But don’t most Americans?

Sorry if I seem angry, but I’m really bothered by strangers trying to advise me when they know absolutely nothing about me.

This is what I wrote, but I didn’t send it. In fact, I didn’t answer the e-mail at all. Maybe he’ll see the response here. Maybe he won’t. I don’t really care.

I guess my point is, you’re wasting your time if you try to advise me on issues relating to diet, weight loss, or eating habits. Enough said.

And Tom, if you’re reading this, do treat yourself to a good steak once in a while. It really won’t hurt you. I’m sure the person I gave the book to will get a lot more out of it than I would.

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