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If We Need To Count Kilojoules, We're Already In Trouble


We're off, its week 1, first video recommendation is this. But if we can't just eat when we are hungry, and just get hungry when we need to eat, something is already wrong. Interesting place to start a course in nutrition.


The video is a Queensland government initiative, and is pretty standard fare. It is part of the same drive to display calorie counts at fast food outlets and on labels. But why do we need to track kilojoules in the first place ? Why can't we rely on our natural appetite, our sense of hunger ? What is it about our food intake that throws our bodily mechanisms off track, so that we have to use labels as a more reliable guide ? This is never explained.

Consider how calories have historically been calculated. Food items are placed in an oven, burnt to ash, and their impact on the temperature of a surrounding container of water measured.

What relevance this has to human digestion and the absorption of nutrients is anybody's guess. At best, it is a gross oversimplification, at worst it is misleading. And yet, this crude estimation of energy is supposed to provide a more reliable means of telling us how much to eat than our own natural sense of appetite.

My point is, that if we can't trust our bodies when it comes to food intake, then SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THAT FOOD. We are already in deep trouble.

This is an ethical argument. I am saying that my conception of a good life does not include having to rely on mechanical calculations to tell me how much to eat. We should be eating a diet where we CAN follow our natural instincts, and not be tripped up.

Think too about the logic behind the 8,700kJ 'daily allowance' we are given according to this approach. The assumption is that the more energy a food item contains, the more 'bad' it is. But don't we eat food for energy ? Why is energy dense food bad ? It doesn't make sense, something is badly wrong.

Likewise the 'good' foods. Fibre is indigestible, it has no nutrient content whatsoever, and ends up going straight through you. This is a 'good' food ?! But don't we eat in order to absorb nutrients ?

The whole thing is absurd, but this is our Modern world. Everything is upside down, back to front.

This is an accountant's approach to eating, reducing everything to numbers, and its a consumerist one. You have a daily budget, my textbook uses this exact term, spend it wisely and you can stuff your face all day with goodies. Go to the gym and you can stuff yourself even more. None of this has anything to do with health, because there is no concept of health, we are in a purely abstract realm where what matters above all is 'the bottom line'.

But that's our Modern world too, so no real surprise there.

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