The effect of hundreds of books, magazine articles, and television programmes on nutrition has been negligible. In our days, the great majority of the population continues to eat in ways that sharply increase their risk of major illness and shorten their lifespan. Why do people act in ways that obviously undermine their own health and happiness? Social scientists have come up with different explanations for this fact, but are still discussing which one is exact.
Is the truth too complicated?
Nutrition advice, some argue, is so abstruse that will
always remain dry and unappealing to most men and women. Recondite
knowledge is destined, by its very nature, to the chosen few. In other
words, this is how it is and there is no way around that.
Is the truth too impractical?
After reading a nutrition or weight-loss book,
motivation lasts only for a couple of weeks, others sustain. The whole
advice is so impractical that cannot be implemented by anyone leading a
normal life. It is as though you expected everybody to be interested in
growing tomatoes on his windowsill. Who on earth can spare the time and
energy to do that?
Is the truth confusing?
The advice you
read in one book is quickly contradicted by the next publication or
television programme. Was nutrition not supposed to be an empirical
science? How come that experts cannot agree on whether you should ban
chocolate from your diet?
Who has the patience to navigate
through thousands of pages of conflicting prescriptions? A third group
of commentators concludes that, if specialists are still discussing the
pros and cons of orange juice, the whole thing might not be worth the
The blindingly obvious is left unsaid
All three are correct in part,
but none of them draws conclusions worthy to impart. The blindingly
obvious has been left unsaid, as it often happens when truth is
uncomfortable to spread. This is the most likely and, in my view, most
accurate explanation: The health formulas proposed in those programmes
are simply too expensive. No individual will prolong a diet that he can
Organic vegetables, exotic fish, esoteric spices,
and the like are easier to recommend than to obtain. The health
challenge of our time does not consist of finding new theories to
preach. What we need is to bring good nutrition within everybody's
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
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