They Know Best

Hey guys, let’s get ready to par-TAY! Check out how much fun a life lived under Australia’s new National Health and Medical Research Council dietary guidelines will be, courtesy of Chris Berg:

For an average man, the hypothetical day begins with toast (wholemeal, two slices), baked beans (half a can), a tomato (medium size), and a glass of milk (250ml, reduced fat).

Breakfast is as good as it gets. Lunch is a sandwich (wholemeal) with 65 grams of sliced roast beef, 20 grams of reduced fat cheese and some salad. Two small coffees may be consumed at your discretion. For dinner, look forward to a tiny piece of fish – 100 grams maximum – rice, and a small, boiled potato. End your day with a glass of water. (Dinner for women: a cup of pasta, 65 grams of beef mince, kidney beans and half an onion.)

A hundred grams of fish, for Americans and other readers still using the old money, is less than four ounces. Have fun! Berg goes on to nail the way even advice about what to eat has become a question of ideology:

But there’s a deeper ideological battle going on around nutrition.

After all, what is the point of providing ”guidelines” that are so far removed from the experiences of Australian eaters? Surely health tips should not simply be scientifically accurate, but also socially plausible.

Advice is pointless if it’s going to be ignored. If our best medical minds have decided that drawing any pleasure from food is too risky, perhaps they should rethink their goals.

In 2008, the NHMRC decided any more than two glasses of wine in a single session constituted ”binge drinking”. This decision turned the previously benign cultural practice of sharing a bottle of wine into dangerous hedonism.

But ”binge” is a moral concept rather than a scientific one – it’s just a synonym for ”bad”. Since risky behaviour exists on a continuum, this redefinition was little more than an attempt to berate people into changing their behaviour.

That was five years ago. Now public health activists are pushing the message ”there is no safe level of alcohol consumption”. Another banality pretending to be insight. There’s no totally safe level of doing anything. But expect to find ”no alcohol” on official recommendations soon.

Food and drink are deeply intertwined with cultural identity. No wonder our palate is a political plaything. Environmentalists are frustrated the NHMRC didn’t focus on sustainability. Social-justice types want more attention on equity and fairness.

Indeed. And just think how appalled Big Nanny would have been by the Pricks’ lunch yesterday which involved everything from pork belly confit (on fatty brioche rolls, no less!) to deep-fried barramundi to beef and bone marrow, all washed down by high-carbon footprint wines from as far away as France (review of the lovely establishment which made this possible to come). Berg is correct when he writes, “Maybe culinary abstinence is the healthy choice. But replacing the joys of cooking and eating with a tightly engineered formula of self-denial is unlikely to be the happy choice.”
The Prick, meanwhile, thinks they won’t be happy until they ban home cooking together and make us all take our meals in Community Nutrition Centres.
UPDATE: In comments, Dr Duck really lets ’em have it. Well said.
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13 Responses to They Know Best

  1. Dr Duck says:

    Culinary political correctness gone mad. The article linked to says the diet bans salt? Fear of salt has been comprehensively discredited for at least 20 years, but it still appears regularly in this kind of grim health advice. The ban on salt in this recipe for culinary flagellation seriously undermines the credibility of its composers.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt

    A hundred grams of fish for dinner? – I had a beautiful BBQ swordfish steak on Thursday that was 400g. Served it with grilled little tomatoes, olives and capers, dressed with nice local olive oil. Today started with butchers thick pork sausages and eggs, followed up with a nice slow braised lamb shoulder for lunch, washed down with half a bottle of 2004 Lakes Folly Cabernets, and a light dinner of lambs fry with sage and onion and a few glasses of Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken Chardonnay from Pemberton WA (worth a try if you like big flavorsome chardonnay with oak). The joys of a high protein diet! I am a very fit 54 year old with low blood pressure and excellent blood lipids, and since I have been on the high protein, high saturated fat, very low carb diet, I’ve lost over 25 kg. I do miss good pizza, bread and so on, though.

    I’ll think of the NH&MRC tomorrow morning when I eat my eggs and bacon, with salt, pepper and tabasco sauce!

  2. Dr Duck says:

    Oh, and I liked the reference to Shameless in there….

  3. Hode Boulevard says:

    Ive never understood reduced fat milk. Why not just buy normal milk and put some water in it! It’s less processed.
    I remember these idiots advising against dairy, meat, oil, salt, and even lately, fruit! Apparently too much fructose!
    Well the whole Big Nutrition industry can go fructose itself as far as Im concerned. They have been proved wrong time and time again.
    Bottom line is eat anything but the less processed the better.

  4. Hoddle Boulevard says:

    And remember, its food for the brain as well as the body!
    Obviously these curmudgeons have forgotton this and its starting to affect their work.

    • Bruce says:

      Hoddle Boulevard wrote:

      “And remember, its food for the brain as well as the body!
      Obviously these curmudgeons have forgotton this and its starting to affect their work.”

      Think about that for a minute. Do you really think that these totalitarians actually want a population with well maintained powers of cognition and analysis?

      How could they cope with well-nourished peasants with the capacity for independent thought and action?

  5. Hoddle Boulevard says:

    I’ve never understood low fat milk. Why not just buy normal milk and put some water in it!
    Bottom line is eat anything and the less processed the better.
    “Everything in moderation, including moderation’!

  6. Mick from Vic says:

    Enjoy your sustainable algae cake, Comrade. In Soviet Australia, food eats you! This is beyond parody – irony truly is dead with these killjoys.

  7. Hoddle Boulevard says:

    I even heard them on the ABC the other day advising against eating too much fruit can you believe it. Apparently too much fructose!
    Well Big Nutrition can go fructose itself!

  8. TimT says:

    Now public health activists are pushing the message ”there is no safe level of alcohol consumption”. Another banality pretending to be insight. There’s no totally safe level of doing anything. But expect to find ”no alcohol” on official recommendations soon.

    Bingo. Chris gets right to the heart of one of the most annoying health slogans of today – less a scientific insight than a cleverly-worded PR catchphrase designed to elevate the power and influence of the anti-alcohol lobby.

    But today’s wowser lobby is only a hop skip and a jump from tomorrow’s madhouse. In Britain, after 11 years of leftism, this is what they come up with: proposals for an obesity tax, and lots of agonising about the unavailability of cheap food for the poor and underprivileged. It should be fun watching the left fight out that contradiction amongst themselves over the next 10 years or so.

  9. DMS says:

    It gets worse:

    “Another classic sentence, this time from the Guardian’s Jill Filipovic, who tells us:

    ‘Somehow, big food companies have convinced us that drinking a 32oz soda is a matter of personal liberty, and that the government has no place in regulating how much liquid sugar can be sold in a single container.’ ”

    (Hat Tip to David Thompson)
    http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2013/02/the-devil-made-me-buy-that-dress.html

    Let me edit the bumf out to show how much nonsense it is

    “Somehow, big food companies have convinced us that… the government has no place in regulating how much liquid sugar can be sold in a single container”

    Quite so.

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