In Heated. More on Medium.

A food writer leaves his profession to confront his relationship with food

A person holding a fork and knife at a dinner table, resting their head on an empty plate.
A person holding a fork and knife at a dinner table, resting their head on an empty plate.
Photo: Tuomas Lehtinen/Moment Open/Getty Images

The carcass stared back.

When I saw that pile of bones, it felt like a bucket of ice water dumped on my head — bucket included. That was when the switch flipped.

Screenwriters call this awakening “the inciting incident,” the moment when the protagonist reaches a fork in the road and chooses one of two paths. That fork for me was both figurative and literal. One night for dinner I bought one of those XXL rotisserie chickens from Costco. What happened next was all reflex and muscle memory. I planted myself in front of the TV and proceeded to hack…

New Releases

It’s not so much what you eat, but what you don’t eat

Photo: Daria Ustiugova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When I was writing for the opinion section of The New York Times, I had a number of close advisers. 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 that ran (untruthfully) as “The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right.”

The response was tremendous — it was one of the most-read articles of the year. …

And we’re largely ignoring it

Photo: ArtistGNDphotography/E+/Getty Images

You are, probably, worrying about coronavirus. For most of us, the anxious questions are: Am I going to get the coronavirus? Is someone I love going to get it? If we do, is it going to kill us?

For starters, let’s be clear that no one ever gets a health guarantee. You might still have a heart attack even if you do everything advisable to avoid one. If you eat optimally, exercise, don’t smoke, and so on- you make heart disease or cancer vastly less probable, but you don’t get a guarantee. Human health simply does not come with those…

New Releases

It’s junk food for thought — and we’re hoping to change it

Photo: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

In our new book, “How to Eat: Your Food and Diet Questions Answered,” David Katz and I answer what we 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 on March 3.

At any given moment in America, some suite of generally silly and inevitably…

A month of atonement does not make you healthier

Photo: C.J. Burton/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Afew days ago, I took a call with a reporter who wanted to talk about the unfortunately and idiotically named Veganuary.

I said, “You’re going to eat all the animal products you want 11 months of the year and you’re going to be ‘vegan’ in January and you want to know what benefits that might have brought you?”

OK. First, tell me what you ate the rest of the year, and then tell me what you ate in Veganuary.

Because if you have 12 Old-Fashioneds a day during the other 11 months of the year and you stop drinking for…

What we do and don’t know

Photo: Morten Falch Sortland/Getty Images

Even as the public health community wages a high-profile battle over how much processed meat it’s safe to eat, the community of vegan or plant-based nutrition experts has been waging a war of its own over the role of fat and its various sources in a plant-based diet.

One camp contends that the optimal plant-based diet is made up preferentially of whole foods, but must also be low in total fat, period. For this group, almonds, walnuts, and avocados are off the menu.

Another camp maintains that higher-fat foods are fine, provided they are plants and limited to whole foods…

As popular diets push heavy protein intake, experts weigh the long-term health implications

Photo: Robert Lowdon via Getty Images

It’s tough to know precisely what Americans are eating from year to year. Collecting accurate diet data is notoriously tricky; people tend to under- or overestimate the amount of a specific food or nutrient they consume, and national nutrition figures usually lag several years behind the times.

But according to eating surveys collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, protein consumption has been rising slowly but steadily since 2000. Protein makes up 16 percent of the average American’s diet, according to the most recent CDC figures.

The recommended daily allowances (RDAs) set by the U.S. National Academy…

Is it better than any other diet, or is it just a novelty?

Photo by Johanna Parkin via Getty Images

Intermittent fasting is currently salient on the shortlist of generally short-lived dietary fixations. The first thing to say about this is that there should be no such list.

Where diet reliably contributes most to vitality, longevity, and, yes, weight control, it is because of cultural traditions, heritage, and the time-honored practices of generations, not the vagaries of news cycles and hyperbolic headlines. But because dietary fads perennially supplant science and sense, there is always a shortlist of fleeting fixations. Intermittent fasting is currently parked there, so let’s talk about it.

The value proposition for intermittent fasting is all about weight…

Why I gained six pounds during a month of fasting

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

It’s 10:42 a.m. and I’m sitting in my SUV outside of Chipotle, resisting the temptation to eat the Goldfish crackers stuck to the car seat in the back. Chipotle opens at 10:45, apparently. What the hell kind of place opens at 10:45? What sort of bullshit time is that? I’m ravenous, and have very little patience. Some people call that hangry. I’m more like ragenous.

I skipped breakfast, as I’ve done every morning for the last month or so, and I’m planning on grabbing that burrito and driving it back to my office where at precisely 11 a.m., I’ll rip…


In its newest report, UNICEF commits to addressing problems that arise from children subsisting on junk food

Michael S. Williamson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

It’s no secret that there’s an ongoing global shift in how much the world’s population eats, one that began in the U.S. but is spreading around the world. For the first time since UNICEF was founded in 1946, the organization is focusing on how to address problems that have arisen because of it.

In its new biennial report released today titled, “State of the World’s Children 2019,” UNICEF has set a goal to facilitate diets for kids that are “nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable,” a phrase akin to those used by food justice advocates.

This is a big deal: UNICEF…


Food from every angle: From Medium x Mark Bittman

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store