Death By Food Pyramid
By Denise Minger
This book is different from any other book I’ve read before.
Instead of just talking about the parts of current dietary recommendations (be they governmental guide lines, vegetarianism, mediterranean, paleolithic etc) that already are in the public light (in other words the “final package” of each recommendation) and what might be good or bad about them according to her own beliefs, Denise deep dives to a whole different level and take an impressively clear minded, subjective and critical look at the history of what eventually led to those recommendations.
Factors such as personal, political and financial interests, prestige, methods of research and the interpretation of their results, are taken into consideration and carefully evaluated.
It doesn’t take you very long to see that, not only are most of today’s official dietary guidelines downright harmful, but also that the foundation they are built upon is quite weak and brittle!
Not only does Denise reveal the huge cracks in the base of today’s official dietary recommendations (such as the the food pyramid)…she also teach you to be critical and think for yourself, and give you some really useful tools to be able to do so.
For example she guides you through the characteristics and methods of different types of scientific studies, so that you’ll have an idea about what level of proof the “amazing new discoveries” you read about in the newspaper actually might be at.
You’ll also learn about the jargon the scientific reports use, explaining their structure and keywords so that you are able to decipher them yourself in case you would like to take a closer look at the actual studies.
While Denise clearly show why the food pyramid type of diet is not the way to go for obtaining and maintaining health (“Death by food pyramid” is a title that hardly leave any doubt on her stand on that matter), she also does not say what she think is the way to go.
Or…actually she does, that there likely isn’t a “the way” to go that fit all.
Instead she promote an approach that “synthesizes what has worked -scientifically, historically, globally and consistently- and to pair it with the reality of individual variation”.
Personally, I like this approach a lot.
This part of the book is taking a look at three of today’s most popular “alternative” diets that fall into that category (“Paleo”, “Mediterranean”, and “Whole-foods, Plant-based” type of diets).
Each of them seem quite different to the other, yet each has it’s own huge collection of success stories tied to it. What Denise does is to put those three diets on top of each other to see where they fully or partially overlap…and it provides a quite interesting visual and a great hint on where to start finding what works for you (i.e. what to definitely exclude from your diet, and what most likely is wise to include).
This is followed by some very interesting pages about individuality (e.g. amylase production, metabolic individuality, gut flora etc.) which most certainly has an impact on how each one of us responds to different types of food.
Already being a strong believer in Paleo oriented diets, reading about the history aspects on why today’s official diet recommendations are what they are sure was interesting but (unfortunately) not surprising. What really stuck with me though was the part about adding the aspects of individual differences to the type of diet I already believe in. (In fact, those pages alone moved another fairly recently released book straight to the top of my to-read-list…but that is not for this post to elaborate on.)
All in all, I absolutely recommend “Death by food pyramid”. It is a great read that take a look on “the same old topics” but from a completely new angle!
On top of that Denise serve it with impressive sharpness and beautifully balance the facts with a great sense of humor (the words chosen to describe some things honestly made me laugh out load!)
The only “problem” I had with the book was in in the first part, and that is that I found it to be jumping back and forth in time quite drastically while taking a look at the historical events, which for me was a bit distracting.
However, the events are handled separately even though some have had impact on each other, so I guess it’s not that much of a deal. (Personally though, I would have found it easier to read in chronological order…or at least have a timeline in the reference pages lining up the occurrence and time span of the events).
Have you read “Death by food pyramid”….if so, what did you think about it?