How to Eat: Why Isn’t This Clear Already?

Dr. David L. Katz and Mark Bittman
When I was writing for the Opinion section of the Times, I had a number of close advisors. On nutrition matters, I came to rely more and more heavily on David Katz. Later, we became friends and, in 2018, I asked him to sit down and talk with me about how we should be eating, for a Grub Street piece which ran (untruthfully) as “The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right.”
Cartoon of a man examining a forkful of food he's holding with his left hand

The response was tremendous, as one of the most-read articles of the year — not just in food; not just for New York Magazine, but online, period.

What we didn’t realize until then, was the degree to which people are looking for guidance on how to eat from people they can trust. And that we qualified.

The net result is our new book, “How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered.” In it, we answer what we gathered and hope are the most pressing questions about diet that confront many readers. We think it’s a useful tool to understand, commit to and maintain a truly healthy diet, and one that will serve as a useful counter to all the bullshit out there.

“How to Eat” by Mark Bittman and David L. Katz, M.D., is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available here.

Here’s an excerpt, beginning with the most obvious question.

Shouldn’t “how to eat” be clear already?

In a way, it is. Every animal knows how to eat, and only in humans (and the animals under their control) has this been perverted. In the last century or so, we’ve been led astray. And we’re so far from our origins that it’s proving hard to find our way back.

Yet there’s nothing more important: Food is the fuel that runs every function of the complex human machine. It is the source of construction material for the growing bodies of children and all the replacements adult bodies require on a daily basis. What we eat is crucial to the integrity of the nervous system, the balance of hormones, the function of our blood vessels, the responses of the immune system. If there were one thing we’d say, it’s this: You don’t want to eat non-food. Period. But we’ll get back to that.
Take me back to a time before mass food production.

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