At this stage, we are experiencing challenging emotions around many issues in our lives. For some there may be a very real concern about where the next meal is coming from. Even for those of us who do not need to worry about this, the emotions regularly associated with food are often uncomfortable. Why? Michael Pollan claims that nutritionism has a lot to do with it. According to nutritionism, the point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health, which means there are good and bad nutrients. The labels have changed over time, depending on what trend we are currently following. As a result, anxiety around whether we are eating correctly accompanies our meals. If we cheat and break the rules, we feel guilty. Many of us suffer from Orthorexia nervosa – an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Pleasure, joy and gratitude for food have become counter-cultural. Eating for pleasure, as a social act or as an expression of identity are not considered much…

Some of the pitfalls of this approach include that the quality of our food is not discerned. When food is analysed into its nutrient parts, some parts are overlooked or not yet understood. Food can be taken out of its context:

  • If I eat a fruit with its peel, my body digests it differently to when I eat it without the peel.
  • In the context of my plate, one type of food interacts with other food on my plate.
  • The specific environment my food develops in makes a difference to the quality of my food, e.g. the food a cow is given influences the quality of the meat.
  • Food eaten needs to be seen in the context of my overall lifestyle.

As a result of nutritionism processed foods may mistakenly be regarded as healthier than natural ones because they have the required amount of a specific nutrient.  In reality, the less refined, the better the quality of our food is, but it is much easier to slap health claims on sugary cereal boxes than on raw foods.

How can we reclaim a more positive attitude to eating?