By focusing on specific nutrients rather than whole foods, nutritionism has made the subject of what we should eat far more complex than it needs to be.
see, then you need a “priesthood of experts” to mediate your relationship to that mystery,’ writes Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food and, most recently, The Pollan Family Table.
One of the most destructive ideas to come out of nutritionism was the US government’s recommendation in the ’70s to reduce fat consumption in favour of whole grains. Saturated fat was deemed unhealthy and a major contributor to heart disease (despite the lack of scientific evidence), and wholesome and nutritious real butter was vilified in favour of highly processed and artificial margarine.
Food companies around the world went all out reformulating products in line with the new dietary guidelines. Low-fat or fat-free labels started appearing on food products high in processed carbs and sugar. As it was believed that fat made you fat and unhealthy, no one paused to consider whether an increase in carbohydrates was ultimately going to have a negative effect on our health and waistlines.