Healthy Eating: voices of sense


Looking for sensible, unbiased, well-researched advice about eating is a tricky business. Food and nutrition are two of the most fad-ridden areas imaginable, and snake oil salesmen are everywhere.  Quacks like Patrick Holford and Gillian McKeith are depressingly ubiquitous, but there are also writers out there who are operating from a more qualified and less dubious position.

Keeping in mind that no-one is right all the time, all these writers have their critics and there are many schools of thought – I’ve gathered together a short list of some of the writers that I’ve found to be quite sound on the subject, and I hope you’ll share your favourites too.

  • ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’   These famous words of advice came from Michael Pollan,a New York Times food journalist and activist.  I’ve been looking through his website recently and there’s a wealth of interesting reading on healthy eating and food production.  This piece where Pollan answers questions on food from readers of the New York Times contained some insights and tips that I found particularly interesting.  Michael Pollan’s books are available online, and there’s a lot of articles archived at the site above.
  • Jeffrey Steingarten, who writes for American Vogue, is particularly interesting on the subject of food fads.  His book The Man Who Ate Everything is a great read.
  • The weekly Skeptoid podcast casts a critical eye over various phenomena, including consumer frauds and bogus medicine.  Its podcasts on the detoxification myth, basic principles of diet and digestion, organic food, raw food and much more are well worth a listen, or a read of the transcripts.  Its author Brian Dunning is not just about attacking ‘alternative’ medicine (before anyone starts shouting at me); this podcast debunks the claims made by the movie Super Size Me.
  • The clever and dreamy Ben Goldacre of the Guardian is one of the best and best-known writers on pseudoscience and fads.  His Saturday column in the Guardian is always eye-opening and his book Bad Science is an absolute pleasure to read. His website contains a free archive of his work – the nutritionist category is a good place to start.

Who are your favourite food writers? We’re looking for people who write about food culture and health rather than cookbooks – we’d love to hear your tips.


  1. I’m a little biased (as he’s my Dad) but Mike Gibney has started a kind of food science blog, touching on issues like obesity, malnutrition, etc. –

    He’s a nutritionist in the original sense of the word, before it was hijakced by quacks.

    His upcoming book, Something to Chew On, was featured on the ‘ones to watch’ list from the Irish Times over christmas.

  2. I went to a talk by the nutritionist Aveen Bannon.

    I thought she was brilliant, very informative and wasn’t selling anything just promoting healthy foods and the importance of moderation.

    She was very informative about all those food allegy tests (ie there a load of nonsence), food intolerences etc. Why diet foods are not that good for you and why a “detox” diet is just silly.

    In all it was common sense really but I enjoyed the talk and left feeling I’m doing ok with the healthy eating, and for that reason if I needed the services of a nutritionist I’d definetly visit her.

  3. Hey Sinead! Bias doesn’t matter in the slightest when you have such a good recommendation. I’ve read your dad’s work in the Irish Times before but never knew he had a blog; just read some of it there and it’s fantastic. His ‘Dying for Christmas’ piece ( is so eloquent, I’m going to send it on to my contact in Concern. Thanks so much, you should be very proud :)

  4. Raw food types make me pass out with rage-induced blood loss through my eyeballs. Jay Rayner puts it best:

    Some raw food – fruit, veg – good for you, as part of a balanced diet. All raw food, and you’d still be living in a tree.

    I can’t decide whether raw food pushers are stupid, or liars, or stupid liars.

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