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Monday, March 18, 2013

Are Celebrity Chefs Making Us Fat?

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. (Image from Flickr, by jo-h)

Celebrity chefs have a tendency to draw a lot of fire when it comes to healthy eating folks.  However, are they responsible for where we has a society have fallen?  Are we a result of cooking shows which push tasty looking, but ultimately unhealthy, recipes on an unsuspecting society?

Well, Stephen Hoyles took to the digital airwaves (via his site at HoylesFitness.com) to defend these chefs.

The problem is that the journalists are mostly using fat content as the variable determining whether or not a dish is healthy, which is a very one-dimensional and misleading angle. When you have articles written by non-professionals in a field, you get ill-informed work. It’s like me writing about plumbing. I’m not a professional, so my opinions aren’t of any value.
As a journalist, allow me to be the first to say, "Ouch!"

However, Stephen's point still has validity.  Most journalists aren't experts in the fields they cover.  In theory, it shouldn't matter since they're supposed to just report facts.  However, these days people want analysis of what's being covered, and that's where my colleagues tend to trip up due to that lack of expertise.

Stephen goes on to say:
From a health point of view, let there be no doubt that a meal cooked using fresh ingredients is healthier than a microwave meal – even if the microwave meal contained slightly less fat, salt and sugar. There is a lot to be said for the quality of the ingredients and their freshness. We have to stop categorising foods as healthy or not based on their fat content and start looking at the bigger picture, considering the vitamin and mineral content of ingredients, for example.
I bet my gluten-free lasagne contains more fat than a typical microwave version, but with upwards of 5 different vegetables, fresh meat and controlled seasoning, mine would be far healthier across a battery of tests.
Frankly, he's right.  This is especially true in light of more and more information suggesting that dietary fat has little to do with heart health or even weight gain/loss.

The truth is, home cooked food is generally going to be better for you than crap you find at any restaurant or in the frozen food section of the grocery store.  Ingredient control is always preferable to eating food that you don't know what's in it.

The food out there may not be as healthy as possible, but a healthy eating inclined person can find ways to modify the recipe to fit their own personal flavor of healthy diet.  If it calls for X, you can use Y in a lot of instances.

The fact is, the celebrity chefs are making home cooking cooler, and please tell me how that is a bad thing?  Yes, we they could cook healthier foods, but when you look at the stuff we typically shovel in our face?  This is hardly their fault.  They're providing what the market demands.  In time, maybe that demand will shift towards healthier foods.

For now though, folks need to stop blaming them.  It's not their fault.

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