The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth About Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner (2017)
This brilliant book is an investigation of bad science in the food world. It is full of forceful, amusing, and convincing information which explodes the “theories” of health and wellness bloggers by the application of rock solid science. Warner shows the falsehoods which pervade the healthy eating industry. He uses evidence to attack the myths, quackery, and nonsense claimed for coconut oil, paleo, sugar, detox diets, eating disorders, cancer, and convenience foods.
The author has spent 25 years working first as a chef and then in food development in the UK, after obtaining a University Degree in Biochemistry. He is outspoken and well-informed, and his goal is to get people to see beyond the “clean eating” and “superfoods” craze to a place where eating is actually a joy.
He challenges our culture’s current value judgments on “processed food”; along with the perception that sugar is our most dangerous foodstuff; and provides cutting criticisms of health and wellness gurus, including unqualified bloggers, who spout nutritional nonsense.
In the book Warner explains the difference between causation and correlation. He says: “paleo is about as realistic as The Flintstones.”; and “The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is a commonly held wisdom within the bullshit-nutrition community. Of course we are not what we eat. Vegans are quite clearly made of meat.”
Warner explains why people choose pseudoscience over science. He argues that the problem lies in the nature of science and its inability to give definitive answers. Our brains prefer things to be simple, and in patterns, even if they aren’t backed up by proof. It is human nature to search for answers, and we tend to take answers where we can find them, even when they lack proof.
This is a thoughtful, scientifically researched and referenced work on healthy eating, which is also an entertaining read. It makes us think carefully about why we are really looking for quick and easy fixes for something complex and long-term. It questions why so many of us are slaves to programs that blame us for our illnesses, humiliate overweight people, and expect us to swallow the logic that if something “works for me” it equals a solution for all.
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