Inspired by my research into the topic, I went onto Amazon to find Woodward’s book and there I found that, as of 24/8/15, 13 of Amazon’s Top 20 Food and Drink Bestsellers were related to healthy eating and losing weight. It’s clear that there is huge demand for this sector of food. I then came across this article from About Time magazine with an interview from Gizzi Erskine.
The magazine asks Erskine a question about losing the true meaning of healthy.
It’s true, eating clean has (quite strangely) become synonymous with the something-free and has created this grey area. As Erskine notes, eating clean used to mean eating whole foods with no preservatives and whilst diet clearly has an impact on health – look at the regulation of sugar for Type 2 diabetes – unfortunately it has all become twisted. And whilst Woodward, Hemsley and Freer have definitely raised awareness of foods and recipes that are gluten-free, it’s unfortunate that their way is portrayed as being for everyone when it is a well known fact that no one person is the same.
But as the leading ‘experts’ in the field, I do believe they have a responsibility to be responsible with what they are saying. In one article, Woodward has been linked to saying that “milk can actually cause calcium loss in our bones”. Now having been a foodie for a long time, and having studied GCSE Food Technology, I can confirm that this is only true if milk is consumed in ridiculously extreme quantities.
Woodward correctly says that “the pH of milk is slightly acidic and triggers a natural reaction to neutralise the acid” but leads on to say “when we drink milk, calcium is drawn from our bones to rebalance the acidity, which can result in a calcium deficit”. Calcium deficiency is a huge problem, according to the NHS yet this is most likely from lack of dairy in the diet. Milk-alkali syndrome, as Woodward describes, is usually down to an excessive intake of calcium supplements rather than from dairy products. Much like the chocolate and raw cacao article, there are good theories that support her claims but they just don’t particularly seem to add up.
And Woodward is not the only one who seemed to have got her words slightly wrong. The Hemsley Sisters, perhaps best known for their book ‘The Art of Eating Well’, have fallen into the same trap, this time regarding gluten. Before we find out what they said, let’s talk Hemsley and gluten free. Like Woodward, they’ve done brilliant work in raising awareness about natural foods that are gluten free and how you do not need to supplement your diet with gluten-free alternatives, as Loriley Sessions says.
And there are people out there who have coeliac disease, a condition where the body reacts to gliadin, one of two proteins that form gluten which is found in wheat, barley and rye. There were 2 people with coeliac disease in my Food Technology class (this was a class of 17!) But suddenly it’s become trendy to falsify a gluten intolerance when frankly it is quite a serious condition, the science of which we’ll discover later. I think the media is definitely to blame for this, promoting figures like Woodward and the Hemsley Sisters into the role of leaders of healthy eating, making it seem that their lifestyle is the one we have to follow.
But to the sciencey bit. Now the Hemsley Sisters say that ‘gluten breaks down the microvilli in your small intestine, eventually letting particles of your food leach into your bloodstream, which is referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”. My research tells me that this is true, only if you suffer from coeliac disease. Again here is a case of falsely informing readers of something which is conditional. Further down this same article, which talks about why they chose to go gluten-free, they address the topic of grains and how they “lack in nutritional value [and] basing a meal on these foods can lead to weight gain”.
Now the thing is carbohydrates, which grains will provide nutritionally, are essential to survival as they are our greatest source of energy and whether this be ‘long-term’ energy release from wholemeal carbohydrates or ‘short-term’ energy release from white carbohydrates. In fact according to the government introduced Eatwell Plate, carbohydrates forms 33% of our diet, so by eliminating them from our diet, it could have detrimental effects. There is the overwhelming sense that carbohydrates are bad for us and intrinsically they are not; an excess of carbohydrate in the diet will be converted into fat and this is not necessarily weight gain in its entirety.
- Raw Cacao, Ella Woodward – http://deliciouslyella.com/products-love-raw-cacao/
- Ali Imdad – https://twitter.com/AliImdadBakes
- Cate in the Kitchen – http://cateinthekitchen.co.uk/
- About Time Magazine interview – http://www.abouttimemagazine.co.uk/life/about-time-you-met-gizzi-erskine/
- Loriley Sessions – http://www.lorileysesh.com/
- Grains, Hemsley + Hemsley – http://www.hemsleyandhemsley.com/h-h-on-grains/
- The Eatwell Plate – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eatwell-plate.aspx
- The Only Diet Tip You’ll Ever Need, Sal’s Kitchen – http://salskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-only-diet-tip-you-need.html
- Clean Eating is Worse than just a Silly Fad – http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9612872/why-clean-eating-is-worse-than-just-a-silly-fad/