American Food Faddism

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About a hundred years ago John Harvey Kellogg persuaded a great number of fluent and well educated Americans to sign themselves into his sanitarium at battle Creek, Michigan. Here they were submitted to a regime that included all-grape diets and almost hourly Bulgarian yogurt enemas and of course whole grains. At this same time millions of Americans became convinced that “Fletcherizing” was the cure to their ailments. Horace Fletcher, known as the Great Masticator, preached the importance of chewing each bite of food 100 times.

These proponents of healthy eating marked the beginning of an era of food faddism that has not ended. Why are Americans so vulnerable to these fads? I think it has to do with the diversity of cultures that exists in the US. We do not have a stable national cuisine as do other cultures. Other cultures have found over hundreds and even thousands of years what is a healthy diet for their area. Since we have no dietary traditions to follow we are more easily subject to the latest “scientific” approach to eating.

Over the last 10 years the pendulum has swung from Kellogg’s whole grain no meat diet to the Atkins type diet which promotes high meat intake at the expense of carbohydrates. Hopefully, it won’t take us a100 years to recognize that this and other extreme diets are just about as quackish as was the Kellogg diet.

How and what should we eat? Just look to the older cultures and follow their diets which have been time tested.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD
About a hundred years ago John Harvey Kellogg persuaded a great number of fluent and well educated Americans to sign themselves into his sanitarium at battle Creek, Michigan. Here they submitted to a regime that included all-grape diets and almost hourly Bulgarian yogurt enemas and of course whole grains. At this same time millions of Americans became convinced that “Fletcherizing” was the cure to their ailments. Horace Fletcher, known as the Great Masticator, preached the importance of chewing each bite of food 100 times.

These proponents of healthy eating marked the beginning of an era of food faddism that has not ended. Why are Americans so vulnerable to these fads? I think it has to do with the diversity of cultures that exists in the US. We do not have a stable national cuisine as do other cultures. Other cultures have found over hundreds and even thousands of years what is a healthy diet for their area. Since we have no dietary traditions to follow we are more easily subject to the latest “scientific” approach to eating.

Over the last 10 years the pendulum has swung from Kellogg’s whole grain no meat diet to the Atkins type diet which promotes high meat intake at the expense of carbohydrates. Hopefully, it won’t take us a100 years to recognize that this and other extreme diets are just about as quackish as was the Kellogg diet.

How and what should we eat? Just look to the older cultures and follow their diets which have been time tested.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD