The Nutrition Space Is A Feminine One - Take Note
The perspective of the nutrition mainstream is a feminine one. This is not a criticism, simply a statement of fact. It reflects a deeper reality, that the entire nutrition space is part of the feminine realm. Science, on the other hand, is a masculine enterprise. This has an important bearing on debates over diet and nutrition, something we should take into account.
I want to bring gender into the discussion - masculinity and femininity, because I believe that it is important, and also a valid move to make. We live in a period when sexual polarity between male and female - the idea that men and women are different and complement one another - is roundly condemned in favour of another ideal, equality. This is understood as an overcoming of 'gender stereotypes' because these are seen as constraints, and the over-arching value of our Modern culture is one of freedom, the ability to escape the constraints of both nature and society.
I don't accept this, either as a statement of fact - 'gender is merely a social construct' - or as an ethic, a conception of the good life. I believe in sexual polarity, I think it is a better way to live, men should be men and women should be women. This is part of a wider ethical position, which argues that we should be seeking to live IN ACCORDANCE with our nature, rather than trying to escape it. This runs counter to the entire trajectory of Modernity.
What does this mean for the debate over nutrition ? A lot, because the current positions at odds with one another reflect masculine and feminine ways of approaching the question, 'what is it to eat well, to live well ?'. This is part of the reason there is a conflict, and also why much of the discussion is at cross purposes.
Let's start with the male side. This is expressed above all through science. Truth is the absolute masculine value, and the scientific enterprise at its best is a search for truth. The current state of play as far as the science goes is leaning more and more towards the overthrow of the current mainstream view. We are in the midst of a classical 'scientific revolution' as described by Thomas Kuhn (see here for more on this). This is driving the popularity of Keto, LCHF and Carnivore ways of eating, people are getting results, and the science is backing them up.
Nevertheless, these still remain an opposition current, a minority position. This is not just a result of the major institutional barriers to change, vested corporate interests for example, it is also because neither science nor 'objective truth about the external world' carries much weight in the feminine realm. Again, this is not a criticism, it is simply how it is.
Consider who at present is adopting a carnivore, Keto or LCHF diet. I would say they fall into two broad categories -
People who follow the science, are into fitness, and are willing to be adventurous with their diet, push their limits
People who are in trouble with their health, suffering either from being overweight or metabolic syndrome, or some other issue that means they have little to lose and much to gain by trying a different way of eating.
In both cases, we find people who are willing to take a chance. Neither form part of the mainstream, they are outliers.
When it comes to the mainstream, it is, well... mainstream. It reflects our social order AS IT IS NOW. The broad mass of the population do not follow the latest developments in the science, health is a fairly low priority day to day, fitness even less so, they do not give diet much of a thought, they just eat what they eat. They shop in supermarkets, get takeaway as a treat or if they are in a hurry, some like to cook for the fun of it, in which case they will make something completely random they think is nice. There is no anchor to anything, no ground, neither a proper understanding of what humans should eat, nor a connection to tradition, what our ancestors ate.
In spite of this randomness, the most important thing to understand about the mainstream is that it is profoundly CONSERVATIVE. This is what sets it apart from the outliers. We can lay out the contrast in one simple sentence -
Mothers do not conduct experiments with their children's health.
The realm of nutrition is a feminine one because in essence it is about nurturing. This is one reason why men in general - outliers excepted - do not care much about their health and what they eat, unless things start to go seriously wrong and it affects their life in general. Men go out in the world and their most important priority is to be successful in life, whatever that might mean on an individual level. If health has to be sacrificed along the way, then this is just a price to be paid. Men will spend long hours in front of a computer screen, or behind the wheel of a truck, or down a dirty mine, they will get fat and sick doing so, because that is what is needed in our world today if you want to succeed, a concept that includes being able to support a family.
In the past this was balanced by the presence of a nurturing home environment, run either by a mother or a wife, who knew how to cook and prepare nutritious meals for the men in her care, usually because she was taught how to do so by her mother. Today we have lost this counter-balance, many men end up choosing their own foods, at lunch, on the way home, even though they are clueless about this aspect of life, and many women have not much better an idea either.
So what do females do under such circumstances ? They play it safe, they go with the mainstream, all the more so when it comes to feeding their children. This also gives them a psychological investment in that same mainstream, for if it turns out to be wrong then that will reflect badly on them as mothers, and no one wants that.
A feminine perspective on the world is at its core 'solipsistic'. This is a term developed by Rollo Tomassi in his classic book, 'The Rational Male', which I strongly recommend. This sees the woman herself, and her children, as the centre of the universe, and everything outside is evaluated by the impact it has on her and her loved ones. From this standpoint, a scientific revolution in how we understand nutrition represents first and foremost a threat, it is destabilising, it increases the risk of making a mistake, it introduces doubt and uncertainty. None of these are welcome, they will be fought off for as long as possible. The truth of the matter, what REALLY constitutes a healthy diet, is entirely secondary.
The Dietetics Associations are predominantly female organisations, which is as you would expect. They form the most entrenched section of the nutrition establishment. They are the LEAST interested in where the science is at in the field. Certainly the influence of the 7th Day Adventists plays a part here, but my argument is that there is more to it than that. Their's is a feminine position, it reflects a feminine perspective on the world, and we need to take this into account, because on its own terms it is entirely legitimate.
Those terms have nothing to do with science, or truth. They have everything to do with the fact that women, mothers in particular, have to make REAL decisions every day about what to buy and what to feed their children, they only get one chance at bringing them up well, and unless and until there is overwhelming reason to do things differently, they will stick with what they know.
For us in the opposition current, whose perspective is as masculine as the mainstream's is feminine, we need to take this into account. We have a lot of work to do before we will be anywhere near convincing the broad mass of the population to join us outliers. There are many questions we still need to address. Here are a couple of examples -
Should children go Keto ? Is that a good idea ? LCHF ? Sometimes, all the time ?
What would it look like to raise a family carnivore ? Is that a good idea ? Are greens so bad for children, or is it different for them ?
I don't know the answer to questions such as these, I doubt anyone does, although there is work being done in these areas and there are outliers who have experimented with such ways of eating. My point is, that at some stage we need answers to these kinds of questions, persuasive ones, if we are ever to become the mainstream ourselves, something I think we should aspire to.