The bad food bible says your diet may not be so evil.
This is the sinful eating season. In just four days, we’ll be filling our Thanksgiving plate with butter mashed potatoes and gourmet Turkey.
And the good news, little ham: all those good things may not be as bad for us as we think.
Dr. Aaron Carroll is director of the center for health policy at indiana university and author of the “bad food bible” : how and why. Among other things, he explains, there may be less evidence of bad food than we think. Maybe we should eat more.
The weekend’s host, Lulu garcia-navarro and Carroll, talked about why “bad” food might not be so bad. Excerpts follow, edit length and clarity.
There’s a lot of food in your book that contains bad rap – butter, salt, soda, even alcohol. When it comes to these sinful foods, what are your main recommendations?
I think the best thing you can do is to recognize that the evidence base makes you think that all the data behind these foods are bad, which is pretty weak. Also, if you’re just taking some sensible ideas and eating as much as you can, don’t worry too much, you’ll probably be healthier and happier.
When you say there’s basically no evidence that these foods are bad, all the information that we’ve gotten over the years is wrong. Or is it just people, especially doctors, who don’t know what they’re talking about?
That’s two little bits. Part of it is that, in terms of nutrition, we have a very long period of evidence that is very weak. We study animal studies, or we study some studies that show us only associations, and then infer that they are causal, because we know that these foods make us unhealthy. …… At the end of the day, there is little evidence that the food is demonized because people believe it.
There are some surprises in your book, just like milk is not as nutritious as some people think.
If you just look at nature, we’re the only animal that consumes milk outside of infancy. It’s not necessary now. Part of that is political, and the United States is involved in promoting the development of the dairy industry and the entire dairy industry. But beyond childhood, there was no evidence that milk was necessary. One of the things I’m trying to say in the book is that all the calorie drinks are the same, you should treat them like alcohol. I mean, what else do you have to make a good chocolate biscuit? Of course, you need a glass of milk. It’s like a dessert – that’s what you should have, because you need it, not because you need it.
Raw eggs are often not well received, especially when it comes to cookie dough. How bad are they really?
Raw eggs are another risky place. But you have to measure the joy again. The truth of the matter is that if you eat a cookie dough raw egg every week, you will never be exposed to salmonella. If you do this, you will hardly get sick. If you are ill, you will hardly notice. Even if you notice it, it rarely causes serious problems. Your chance of serious illness is negligible. … To do these things with the children or enjoy the pleasure of the baking process can make people more satisfied, and can lead to the improvement of life quality, with infinite small risk, rather than to damage your health in some way.
So I think you know, in general, one of the things you can do is to limit as much of your processed food as possible. Nature means you get benefits from apples, not apple juice. But the more we can do it, smile, cook for ourselves, know where our food comes from, and remember, the better, the better. But we shouldn’t be so panicked and scared, and we keep believing that if we don’t listen to what we hear from the latest experts, we’ll get sick and die. It’s not true.
Of course, we’re looking at the Thanksgiving bucket, which may be a worry for many of us, especially when it comes to anxiety. It just feels like it’s so passionate. If I eat meat, I’m evil. If I like diet coke, I’m not good. The food was loaded.