Death by Food Pyramid

I first came across Denise Minger by accident.  I was nearing the end of a year long experiment I was talked into by my wife: to be a vegetarian.  This was only about 3.5 years ago give or take, so pretty recent in my memory.  The reason we decided to try this is our general interest in healthy eating and healthy life.  We had purchased The Paleo Diet (1st Ed.) by Loren Cordain back in about 2003 (well before the current paleo movement) as part of eating better in general, but to recover better for Triathlon, at which point I was ramping up for Ironman training.  At that point in my life, I thought the author had a lot of interesting points, but I was training TONS of time (up to 20 hours a week of biking, swimming and running) so I needed tons of easy carbs (and low fat protein) to fuel my adventures, or so the thought went.  So based on the book, we might have modified our “processed” food like twinkies or shit like that, but kept eating pasta and lots of whole grains since they were “healthy.”

After that point in our lives, when we had given up long distance high-level competitions and had moved on to half marathons and basic chronic cardio, I had the small spare tire and was super skinny with no muscle tone. So my wife somehow stumbled upon The China Study which promoted a vegetarian, whole food lifestyle.  Always game for something new, our whole family signed up.  I was also very blue-pill at the time, but laying the foundation to go red-pill in many areas of my life.  The diet was typical American vegetarian, complete with black bean burgers, tofu, soy, fake nuggets, some veggies, and even milk; we stuck with vegetarianism for a full year.  Despite the fact I was totally ready to get out after about 6 months, I made a personal commitment to stick with a year just for the experience.  A year to the day after I started, I killed that shit with a salmon burger.  Most delicious thing I may have ever ate. My body was craving meat.

Which brings me back to Denise Minger, who wrote a lot debunking The China Study (plus she’s really cute):


I thought (even when) reading the China Study that things weren’t right, and that the China Study author was making wild leaps equating small studies of cassein protein in milk (just one of the milk proteins) with health effects to all meats and animals, and Denise confirmed in a scientific way all my thoughts.

Anyways, Minger has written a new book called Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health.  She’s spent the last year and a half writing this beast.

In her own words from her blog entry:

  1. Death by Food Pyramid is not pro-paleo, per se. Nor is it anti-vegan. Nor is it a platform for promoting any particular eating plan (or excessively bashing another). I’m grateful to Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint Publishing team for letting me craft a book that respects the success of paleo and Primal diets, but doesn’t assert them as optimal for all people, and even critiques them in some regards.
  2. do, however, explore the reasons why some people are genetically equipped to handle higher-starch diets; why the effects of saturated fat aren’t uniform among all humans; why we should focus on individually tailoring our diets; and where various successful eating programs seem to intersect.
  3. Although this book certainly takes a swipe at conventional wisdom, I hope it also opens a discussion about some of the dogma existing within the “alternative” health communities as well.

Mark’s Daily Apple did an excerpt from one of her chapters (and the book itself was published by Mark’s Primal Blueprint offshoot).

So while the book isn’t yet out (supposed release date January 1, 2014), I encourage those “into” diet and health to procure this, and I know we’ll be buying the kindle version when it’s out.  We’re not any type of strict diet follower in our house except as “whole food advocates”, meaning we eat a lot of meat, some veggies, a few fruits, some dairy and limited processed foods (and next to no wheat, flour, HFCS or the like).  We’ve done strict paleo, primal, low carb paleo and totally clean at times (we even have the kids follow this to a very large degree), but mostly we’re in the 80% good/20% not so good camp most weeks, as best we can.  Maybe I’ll do a Sarah Fragoso A Week In The Life inspired post to show how we really eat (another quick aside: today’s lunch for LoudBoy and Birdsnest was water/milk to drink depending on the kid, pickle wrapped in salami with a toothpick, a jello pudding cup, a banana, nut/fruit granola bar and a cheese stick – too many carbs, not enough veggies or meat, but semi-balanced and quick to make in the morning).

Denise’s blog is top notch.

If you’d really like an intro into Paleo (that based on Denise’s own words above, will pick apart to some degree, but there is WAAAYYY more good than bad in this approach, especially compared to how most eat), and at least understand the concepts and benefits, there’s probably not a better lay-mans book than Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution, though Sisson’s own The Primal Blueprint is pretty good too (we own both and both are a little different – Sisson’s focuses more on whole life, while Wolf is more diet).

Anyways, eat well, exercise well, continue to educate yourself on what may work best for you and yours. Peace.

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