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Eatwell Guide

The origin of the ‘eatwell’ plate

(Throughout this post, the plate/guide will either be called ‘eatwell’ in inverted commas, to illustrate that it is anything but. Or, I shall use the name that I coined several years ago and used in my 2010 obesity book: The eatbadly plate.)

The ‘eatwell’ plate was launched at a press release on 16 September 2007, by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It is described in the British Nutrition Foundation video on YouTube as the “healthy eating model for the UK” – suitable for young or old, vegetarian or not and for any ethnic group.

It replaced The Balance of Good Health, which was launched by the UK Department of Health in 1994 and was also a picture of a segmented plate. In April 2000, responsibility for the Balance of Good Health (BOGH) diagram and concept passed to the then newly formed Food Standards Agency (FSA). When the FSA revised the plate in 2007, it summarised the differences between the two plates. The BOGH title was seen as “unfriendly” and “lacking in emotion” and so the title and some colours on the plate rim changed. Food groups were renamed. For example “bread, other cereals and potatoes” became “bread, rice, potatoes, pasta (and other starchy foods)”. In other words, a marketing company made a lot of money making the plate more “friendly” and “emotional”, but, to all intents and purposes, what we know as the ‘eatwell’ plate has been around since 1994. (I share this nonsense, as it has happened again…)

The new ‘eatwell’ guide

A new ‘eatwell’ guide (not plate) was issued on 17 March 2016. This is what the new plate, sorry, guide, looks like. This is a summary of what has changed. It’s been renamed the ‘eatwell’ guide (they don’t use the inverted commas ha ha); the knife and fork have gone; the images are drawn, not photographed; the segment names have been updated – those are the first four changes. Never has the expression “moving the deck chairs on the titanic” been more appropriate! How is any of this going to address epidemics of obesity and diabetes?!

The next four get into the meat of the guide (sorry – meat is largely off the menu): the segments have been resized; the purple segment (the one that used to famously have a red can of cola) now only has unsaturated oils and spreads; high fat, salt and sugar foods have been removed from that purple segment; and there’s a new hydration message.

The segment sizes are not in the launch documents – I phoned the helpline on the press release to be told they would only be given out to journalists. So much for public help, or health! (They’re below – don’t worry). The only real food in the purple segment (butter) has been removed. The biscuits, sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate have been removed from the purple segment – only to be given a fabulously prominent spot on the eye catching bottom left of the diagram – along with ketchup and ice cream. That’s the fake food industry appeased :-) And not even the hydration message holds water, as Dr Margaret McCartney pointed out in July 2011.

There is so much so wrong with the plate/guide, I hardly know where to start. Let’s focus on the three main issues:

1) The plate/guide is not evidence based

This document (page 2) sets out how it thinks the ‘eatwell’ guide can help (my comments are in red – hover near the underlines to see links):

The Eatwell Guide shows the different types of foods and drinks we should consume – and in what proportions – to have a healthy, balanced diet.
The Eatwell Guide shows the proportions of the main food groups that form a healthy, balanced diet:
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (This is not evidence based. It was invented in 1991 without evidence base and attempts to post rationalise it have failed)

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible (This is not evidence based. As Tanner said “Farinaceous and vegetable foods are fattening, and saccharine matters are especially so”…)

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options (This is not evidence based. There is a growing evidence base to the contrary – specifically supporting full fat dairy products).

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily) (There is some evidence base for oily fish. Micronutrient evidence should drive us towards meat/fish/eggs/dairy/seeds etc).

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts (There is no evidence that total fat or saturated fat is harmful and some evidence that vegetable oils are harmful.)

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day (No evidence base).

If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.”

The ‘eatwell’ guide encourages consumption of nutritionally poor foods, rather than nutritionally rich foods. The SACN report has been used to try to justify the new guide. This is a dissection of that report.

2) The plate/guide does not understand the difference between volume/weight and calorie intake

In September 2009, when I asked the FSA what the plate proportions were based on, they said weight. In my 2010 obesity book, I did an interesting calculation where I took the average calorie number for each segment and worked out what the plate would look like if the proportions were represented by calorie intake – which is what matters to the body and which is what is used in dietary studies. A savvy calorie counter or nutritionist will be able to do a back of the envelope: fruit and veg is c. 40 calories per 100g; bread is about 260 cals per 100g, grains are about 360 – starchy things will average out therefore; oils are approximately 880 cals per 100g, spreads lower – that will average too. I have a database of foods to which I commonly refer, so I worked it out more scientifically. The precision doesn’t matter much.

I’ve picked the foods to match closest to those on the new ‘eatwell’ guide to calculate the following: Starchy foods average c. 334 cals per 100g; Fruit & veg 43 cals per 100g; Dairy & alternatives (think moobs when you see soya guys!) 157 cals; Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat & other proteins, c. 180 cals; Oils & spreads c. 819 cals and the Junk (off the plate but the proportions allow for it) c. 600 cals.

When you recalculate the plate by proportion of calories, this is what happened to the old plate:

OLD ‘Eatwell’ plate % in diagram % by cal intake
Starchy foods 33% 50%
Fruit & veg 33% 6%
Milk & dairy 15% 12%
Non dairy protein 12% 10%
Junk 8% 22%
TOTAL 101% 100%

The starchy foods became 50% of calorie intake; the junk (purple) segment became 22% and fruit and veg plummeted to 6% of calorie intake,

The new ‘eatwell’ guide is arguably worse. These are the proportions with and without junk (small rounding errors)

 With junk included  Without junk
NEW ‘Eatwell’ guide % in diagram % cal intake % in diagram % cal intake
Starchy foods 37% 62% 38% 68%
Fruit & veg 39% 8% 40% 9%
Dairy & alternatives 8% 6% 8% 7%
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat etc 12% 11% 12% 12%
Oils & spreads 1% 4% 1% 4%
Junk 3% 9%

Without junk included, the new plate has a whopping 68% of calories in the form of starchy foods – things that make you fat. When junk is allowed (and it is allowed – I’m being generous here) 71% of calorie intake comes from starch and junk combined. Fruit and veg barely moves from the 6% of calories from the eatbadly plate. Beans, pulses, meat, fish, eggs – crikey – which idiot put almost all of the good stuff in one small category?! – accounts for 11-12% of calorie intake. Dairy is the big loser in the new eatbadly guide – down from 12% of calorie intake to 6-7%. Look at how junk takes such a big chunk of daily calories (still almost 10%) – JUNK HAS NO PLACE ON A ROLE MODEL PLATE OF HEALTHY EATING. There – shouting over (for now).

Nutrition 101 tells us that fat and protein can be used for basal metabolic needs and carbs and fat can be used for fuel (protein too can be used for fuel – and will be as a last resort). Carbs cannot be used for the vast majority of our daily calorie requirement. This video will explain. In a ‘healthy’ eating guide that drives us to consume (using the no junk proportions) 68% of our diet as starchy foods, 9% as fruit and veg (more carbs), 10% as dairy (some carbs) and even the beans/pulses/fish/eggs/meat segment can be taken in carb/protein form (beans/pulses) rather than no-carb form (meat/fish/eggs) – you can see how this guide mandates that we will get insufficient fat/protein and excess carbohydrate. We will be under nourished nutritionally and over fed fuel. In short – we will be sick and fat.

3) The plate/guide is another missed opportunity

Yet again, we didn’t need the committee. We didn’t need all these documents and diagrams and press releases and orange borders and such like. We just needed a three word message to come from Public Health Bodies:


Another three word message therefore comes to mind:


p.s. (This was the Monday newsletter for 21 March 2016)

48 thoughts on “Eatwell Guide

  • I only came across this article yesterday, although have been aware of Zoe’s values for about 10 years. Yesterday I accompanied my husband to a GP appointment at which he received his first prescription for high blood pressure. He will be 53 on Tuesday and has a heart age of 66, although there is no concern of raised cholesterol or potential diabetes, we need to lose weight and increase activity. I suggested to the GP that there is so much conflicting advice about diet/healthy eating and asked if red meat, in his view, should be avoided – his reply was to look at the British Heart Foundation website as it’s an excellent source of dietary and lifestyle advice and that red meat intake should definitely be limited. We left the surgery and the first thing I did was look at an ‘Eat Better’ booklet, endorsed by BHF, that I’d picked up in the council offices a few days earlier. I was disappointed to see the Eatwell plate still exists in virtually the same format it always has and more than a little concerned that the GP suggested it’s what we need to be following. Husband’s view is “he’s (GP) the professional, we’re not, he knows best”.
    In my somewhat half hearted attempts for us to be lower carbers and eat real food, I refuse to by low fat spreads and such like, we eat real butter and use olive oils, lots of meat, chicken, fish etc limit pasta and bread, and I wonder if this accounts for his ‘normal’ cholesterol and blood sugar counts. Nevertheless, I doubt I’ll get hubby to eat the juicy rib-eye I had planned for tonight’s dinner now but I am worried that he will want to revert to the old fashioned calorie counted low fat dieting. So the comments to this article are three years old and nothing’s changed in terms of ‘professional’ advice here in 2019!

    • Hi Lyn
      I’m so sorry this ended up in the spam filter. Such things always seem quite random to me!
      Hubby should be aware of a couple of things:
      1) Doctors spend less than a day in a 6-7 year medical degree learning anything about nutrition. They don’t know best – and more and more are admitting this and trying to learn more about food and nutrients.
      2) The BHF is conflicted

      Was hubby’s blood pressure genuinely high? Or was it normal, re-defined as high?

      The best way that I know to drop blood pressure with diet – caution – it happens quickly – is to cut carbs. Blood pressure can crash in a couple of days. This is because – if someone goes very low carb (anywhere under 100g carb a day would have an effect; 50g would have a significant effect), the body depletes stores of glycogen. The body can store approximately 400g of glycogen. The body stores 4g of water with every gram of glycogen. You can see how you can drop 2-2.5kg (4-6lb) in a couple of days on a low carb diet. BP will fall naturally.

      If you go low fat, this is necessarily high carb (as protein is pretty constant in natural diets) and thus glycogen stores can stay full.

      If hubby wants to trust docs then encourage him at least to listen to some of these (

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Just cime across this while trying to find out what the percentages in my daughter’s homework relate to. If we were to go back to the original plate idea, woukd it not make more sense to work out the calories based on volume? I know thst will be a LOT more variable, but it seems to be the most intuitive interpretation. It would be an interesting exercise to see how the numbers came out. To be honest, even volume is not the same as “plate space”, as some foods are taller than others…

    • Hi Stephen – I think weight is better than volume – you can always put a normal meal on a plate and then weigh it. Better still – put in the homework that this is complete nonsense – designed by the fake food industry ( and ask what on earth teachers are doing teaching something with no evidence base!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Is this diet suitable for people who don’t want to ,one weight but just find a way to eat healthy? I.e. Can this diet be used as a way to eat for life regardless of weight? Or is it really only suitable for weight loss?

    • Yes of course. A low carb diet is a diet we should ALL be eating. Carbs are a modern invention and have no place in our diet.

  • Looking at this new Eatwell Guide, Please try and explain what their knowledge of human nutrition is based on? Importantly! Do they not understand that Some people MAY be Carb tolerant enough to survive, but most people are not! That’s why we have an Diabetes/Obesity crisis already!
    The Irony of this is, that “Dr Alison Tedstone” at PHE thinks this guide to increase Carbohydrates is the way to solve the Obesity Epidemic! My mind just lost it at this point! I would not have believed that the old eatwell plate could be made WORSE!

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  • Brilliant post! Thank you.
    Have the ‘eatwell’ plate-pushers published success rates for their diets?
    My own doctors scared me off trying LCHF because they thought it might not be safe for everybody in the long run. Eventually, three years ago, I became even more frightened by what the ‘eatwell’ plate was doing to me and I reduced my carb intake a little. Within a few months I was kicked out of the diabetes clinic because my blood glucose levels had become normal. Later I plucked up the courage to lower carb to around 100g daily and subsequently, eighteen months ago, enrolled in Jason Fung’s Intensive Dietary Management plan, with regular online clinics by Megan Ramos (Sorry – I didn’t know about your diet then!), and my blood glucose stabilised at 5.0 mmol/l. Recently I cut carbs further and now aim for 30g to 50g daily. My blood glucose now averages 4.0 mmol/l, with no surges after meals. The old ‘eatwell’ plate ruined my kidneys so I have to restrict proteins too. Luckily I love the taste of olive oil, beef dripping and butter! I eat only real food, usually one or two meals a day, with no snacks, no hunger and no cravings.

    • Hi John
      What a great story and I’m a huge fan of Jason so you’ve found the right advice – really pleased for you :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Thanks Zoe.
        I don’t think I need your plan or books now, having accidentally stumbled towards what you advocate, but I will buy some anyway, partly as gifts for family members and also to add to the collection which I take to doctor’s waiting rooms to read with the titles prominently displayed. I’ve recently flaunted David Cavan’s, Jason Fung’s and Sam Felthams books without being asked to leave. I’ve booked my ticket for the Public Health Collaboration conference at the NEC on 11 June.

        • Awesome! I’ll be there – please come and say hi :-)

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  • *sigh*
    A restaurant in Tottenham is being hailed as Britain’s healthiest fried chicken shop.
    Chicken Town.. uses free-range chicken which is steamed before being fried briefly in rapeseed oil. It has a fraction of the fat and salt found in other fried chicken.

    Rosie Boycott, chair of healthy eating campaign London Food, said: “Chicken Town proves that it is possible to have tasty, succulent chicken, cooked in a wholesome and nutritious way without costing the earth.”

    • Hi Amie
      Sigh indeed! Love to see how the displaced animals whose homes have been hacked down for rape fields are getting on!
      Many thanks for your other post on the sugar comment back – good on you!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • On the other hand, Zoe, some indication of the wisdom of crowds–‘73% recognised we should aim to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, but only 11% said we should eat a lot of starchy foods – showing that people don’t always realise the benefit of eating bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.’. As with the propaganda about the badness of eggs, people just may not really believe this crap, though currently to shy to say so…

  • Why is it that those setting themselves up as authorities on diet steadfastly refuse to consider Homo sapiens as anything other than a homogeneous herd?

    We are anything but, and until relatively recently, in evolutionary terms, is was possible to find groups of people well adapted to very different diets, although none of these diets excluded animals which were always treated as a welcome bonus.

    Our ability to thrive on diets rich in carbohydrates has recently (since 2000 I think) been shown to be a result of genetic adaptation, specifically the number of copies of the AMY1 allele responsible for the amount of salivary amylase we produce.

    This paper in 2014 (paywall but summary covers salient points) confirms research into the relationship between AMY1 count and an ability to process a high carbohydrate diet without severe adverse health impacts.

  • As someone else said the people who produced this obscenity are not stupid. Th conclusion must therefore be they want you to be ill! This is not so daft when you consider what a goldmine an ailing nation represents.

    Pressure groups will demand more and more cash to be wasted by the NHS. Yes wasted! They will be led by the “Big Pharma Snake Oil Salesmen” to buy more and more drugs to treat new diseases they’ve unearthed or new targets for blood pressure cholesterol etc.

    Think of all the money churned out for statins and pills for what used to be considered normal blood pressure.

    The “Eatwell Guide” is the cornerstone of this plot and will, without doubt, lead to a population with a high proportion of drones blissfully consuming their daily intake of “Soma” equivalent.

    A little bit of Orwell:

    “I don’t understand anything,” she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. “Nothing. Least of all,” she continued in another tone “why you don’t take Soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly. So jolly,”

    Or in today’s world: “Have another slice of cake” (Substitute your carb based toxin of choice).

    Ray Davies

    • Ooops! Wrong prophet, that quote was of course from George Orwell’s Brave New World.


        • Quite right – I wish I could have gone back and corrected it myself. I can’t even blame the statins now since I’ve ditched them! But I was tired and in a rush.



  • Here’s how this news was reported in New Zealand — as an attack on low carb diets!
    Show me one low-carb diet study where fibre intake was significantly lower in the low-carb arm. I don’t remember seeing one.
    “Trendy low-carb diets received a drubbing yesterday from health officials, who said carbohydrates should form the backbone of a healthy diet.

    Meals that are low in carbohydrates do not provide vital nutrition because they lack the fibre crucial for digestion, Public Health England said.

    It updated its healthy eating advice to urge Britons to consume more potatoes, pasta, bread and other starchy carbohydrates to increase fibre intake by more than half – from 19g a day to 30g a day.

    The Eatwell Guide increases the amount of starchy carbohydrates from 33 to 37 per cent of recommended daily intake.”

    I’m curious as to how much room that leaves for sugars in their high-carb, low-fat diet.

  • I think it’s significant that they’ve moved so far from “eat real food” that even the pictures on the plate no longer look like real food.

  • Zoe, you’re mentioned here:

    The few comments I read seem to be pro-low carb.

    As for me, I eat very little of what’s on that guide. I basically eat some of the vegetables and all of the meat (but where’s the beef, pork, and lamb?). That’s it. And I choose “saturated oils” and eat a lot of those. (And what’s an “unsaturated oil”, since all oils/fats have a combination of saturated, unsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats: even that “heart healthy” olive oil is about 15% saturated fat.)

    • Ooooh! Ooooh! Another voice of sanity appears in that article:

      “Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiology adviser for the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘Considering type 2 diabetes is a condition of carbohydrate intolerance, promoting carbohydrate will only fuel the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and obesity.’ ”

      FWIW, I’m a type 2 diabetic and have been managing quite nicely with diet for the past 10 or so years. My new PCP sent me to see an endocrinologist in his group. She looked at my blood test results and asked how I managed not to need meds. I told her what I ate and said “diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, so I figure it makes sense to keep them to a minimum in my diet.” Her reply “that’s correct”. (I think I’ll keep both of them)

  • A friend linked me to the report of the new plate/guide yesterday. I took a quick look and my first thought was; “I can’t wait to see how thoroughly Zoe will destroy this.”

    And you’ve done a terrific job! (Just as I expected.)

    What I found most fascinating was the breakout by size and calories. That’s an impressive difference between what they’re showing and what it actually amounts to.

    I think I’ll go out this evening and celebrate this new plate with one containing 50% steak and 50% leafy green veggies. :)

  • Hi Zoe. Great blog! thanks! How about having a go at creating the Harcombe Eatwell plate as an alternative?
    best regards

  • Hi Zoë,

    Head banging time again!

    Just another example of government stupidity and, like all government advice, best ignored. If the clowns responsible for this rubbish cannot see the damage that has occurred over the last few decades as a result of following such dietary advice then I’m forced to the conclusion that they have either lived in a cave for the past 30 to 40 years or are corrupt. The people that come up with this BS are not stupid and if they look at the evidence they cannot be ignorant, although they act as if they are both. Reminds me of a Soren Kierkegaard quote: “There are two ways to be fooled: One is to believe what isn’t so; the other is to refuse to believe what is so.”

    More worrying is the fact that those following such advice will make themselves ill. An excess of energy dense nutrient poor “foods” will result in obese sick people – basically continuing along the path we are already on. Unfortunately many/most do not understand that carbohydrates are of zero use to the body for maintenance and growth – other than horizontally – but do promote excessive insulin levels. Excess insulin results in immense damage to the body but often goes undetected until a FBG test indicates an issue, by which time it is in many ways too late – the damage is done and although it is possible to normalise BG by strict diet (assuming the beta cells are still functioning adequately) that is not going to happen if the current “eat carbs and not fat” diet advice is followed. Additionally failure to supply the body with the essential fats (and the substances that they contain) in sufficient quantity and quality will result in biochemical problems. The body will be forced to use whatever is available on the basis of triage to support survival in the short term and at the expense of long term health. Is it any wonder that so many are so ill?

    “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
    Thomas Sowell.

    • Read “The Wisdom of the Anointed”.

      tl;dr: The people who are in charge think they know better than we do, what’s good for us (after listening to their expert advisors in industry). Therefore they dictate to us what we should do. When they don’t get the result they want, their arrogance prohibits them from acknowledging that they might have been wrong. Because they’re In Charge(tm) and consulted the right experts.

      So instead of revisiting the evidence and changing policy, they either double down on it, or tweak it so that the stupid peons (that’s us) can understand it.

      Lather, rinse, repeat.

      You see it in nutrition, in a lot of medicine (Statins for everyone! yay!), in public policy (Prohibition in the US being the best example). Anywhere there are public officials “taking care” of our best interests.

  • Thank you, Zoe, for your illuminating post. You are a ray of sunshine in my inbox. Keep up the good work, even if you do get a bruised head.

  • Thank you for this article.

    I know the Eatbadly Guide is bad for me. It’s raised my blood pressure more than salt does! Which, of course, is not that surprising.

    The best Eatwell guide I have yet heard (and I think the nine words come from different sources) was by the outspoken cardiologist Aseem Malhotra on the World Service Radio recently:

    Eat Real Food, Not Too Much, Mainly Plants.

    But that would not generate so much funding for marketing firms or expense lunches for committees and payment for advisors would it.

    Seriously though – if people got paid for the pathetic graphics on that guide it’s a disgrace. You could have got plenty of schools to do better for free – and I suspect it would be more influential.

    I could not read the Margaret McCartney article from your link without BMJ subscription. But luckily there is a link to the full text article via her Blog – which is a resource I hadn’t previously encountered. So thank you again!


    • Hi Mark
      That phrase comes from Michael Pollen – I think the exact words were “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

      I have offered my own counter to this in presentations: “Eat food, quite a lot, mostly animals”! We do need to eat quite a lot of meat, fish, eggs, dairy etc to get the nutrients that we need on a daily basis ( Vitamins and minerals don’t grown on trees you know!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • This “eat mostly plants” is also not based in evidence, at least in RCTs. The Women’s Health Initiative comes to mind, where 59,000 women were randomized into two groups, the group under test ate more fruits and vegetables (and less fat, saturated fat, red meat…) than did the control group, yet after 8 years, there was no difference in heart disease, cancer, etc., between the groups. This is the best RCT ever done on the US’s version of the eat badly plate and was a failure.

        Similarly, eating more fiber is a complete failure in RCTs.

        Myself, I do eat “plants” (real plants, i.e., vegetables, but not fruits other than berries and those infrequently, as they’re too high in carbs), but I place primary emphasis on eating meat and fat. If I don’t eat “plants”, I don’t freak out.

        The only question I have concerns resistant starch. I’ve been adding potato starch, green plantains, and (infrequently) potatoes and rice that have been cooled and reheated or just cold I’ve also been adding fermented vegetables and try to eat these every time I eat. So far, I haven’t noticed any deleterious effects (other than gas if I eat too much of these), but I’m also not sure there’s been a benefit, either. I’ve been doing this for several months. At the end of this month, I’m going to stop eating the high resistant starch foods and see what happens.

        As for water, in the US, we have “8 glasses per day”, which pretty much everyone who has looked into this agrees is completely unsupported by evidence.

        • Hi Bob
          The WHI – they must have been so pissed at the end when there was no benefit! Did you know that they now position this study as proof that the low fat diet is safe?! WTF!

          On resistant starch – not looked into it personally, but I trust the Mark Sisson info and here’s a guide of his:
          There appear to be benefits and downsides – you’ve spotted the gas one!

          Hope this helps
          Best wishes – Zoe

  • This is so wrong as Zoe says. When will they stop pushing such bad advice?

  • Funny, when I linked to the Eat Badly Plate, my first thought was how unappetizing it all looked! Most of the foods they featured are things I don’t even eat (like those huge servings of grains, and low fat milk….yuck). “Eat Real Food” is good advice, and to that I would add “Drink When Thirsty”. This is logical; the body lets us know when we need hydration, and the amount varies from day to day. A big problem with government guidelines, in my opinion, is they prevent people from following their natural inclinations and instincts, which causes an unhealthy and/or unrealistic reaction to food (and drink).

  • Here we go again.

    Fat makes you fat.

    Carbohydrates provide ‘energy’, but are good for weight loss because they don’t contain fat.

    Consume too many calories (excepting carbohydrates), and you will put on weight.

    It’s really getting too tiresome….

  • The first scientific investigations of food, energy and nutrition were carried out in the 18th century at the behest and expense of industrialists who wanted to know how their workers could best be fed to let them do a full day’s hard manual labour at minimum cost. The technique of burning foods in a special furnace, and measuring the heat given off, was developed, and the conclusion was: sugar is best, followed by white flour! Why? Because in those days the human body was thought of as being a heat engine (by analogy with the steam engines then becoming widespread).

    By the mid-19th century it was understood that the healthiest diets were based on meat and vegetables, with small amounts of dairy and fruit. Mr Banting’s famous pamphlet “A Letter on Corpulence”, which can be read today at, explained how he learned these facts and lost his extra weight by scupulously avoiding starchy foods and beer.

    Even today, it seems that government nutrition guidelines may not be inspired by a sincere wish to help people eat healthily, live long, and enjoy life to the full. After all, why would governments or corporations wish those outcomes? Instead, the guidelines are an unholy cocktail of corporate profit-seeking and administrative convenience. Just think how awkward it would be for our political leaders if everyone in Britain started to demand plenty of good grass-fed meat and organic vegetables! (The scarcity of such foods today is indicated by their high cost, which the average family would be hard pressed to afford).

  • As far as I know, there are virtually no cases on record of anyone dying of under-hydration (thirst) in the UK. On the other hand, there are a small number of deaths from hyponatraemia, the result of over-hydration.

    The whole “hydration” scam took off after Jim Peters, the English marathon runner, collapsed while approaching the finish line in the 1954 Empire Games marathon at Vancouver. Peters was 17 minutes ahead, and 10 minutes (nearly 2 miles) inside his own world record schedule. As was his custom, he had drunk nothing before or during the race. “The race was run in warm (28°C), windless, cloudless conditions, considered conducive to the development of heatstroke. Peters had not trained to race in the heat as the value of heat acclimatisation was not then appreciated”. Expert opinion is not convinced that his collapse was due to dehydration.

    Needless to say, people running a few miles in the mild English climate hardly ever need to drink en route. And if normal human beings cannot be trusted to drink enough when not exercising, what can they be trusted to do?

    • Over hydration has killed a number of endurance athletes in the past thirty years. Here is a paper,

      Noakes spent a good portion of his career exposing this scam, but not before a lot of people died. One of the most notorious involved Cynthia Lucero in the 2002 Boston marathon. Noakes recounts the sordid history in his book, “Waterlogged:” What can I say, the sports drink industry basically does not care who they kill. The US Army actually bought off on this garbage in the 90’s before they killed some recruits.

      The human body is quite capable of a fair amount of dehydration, but force down fluid, and you may end up dead, and it does not take very long. According to Noakes, prior to 1970 endurance athletes trained to restrict eating and drinking. It all changed with Gatorade.

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