Timeline of Dietary Advice

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Welcome to SIRC's Timeline of Dietary advice.

It seems that everyday we are faced with new advice on what we should or should not eat. Sometimes this advice comes from government departments and agencies. On other occasions it is provided by charitable bodies, consumer groups or individuals whose credentials range from substantial to very dubious. At worst the guidance comes from those who have no qualifications at all but simply pursue untested and often quite dangerous medical and nutritional philosophies.

The result of this daily diet of conflicting 'advice' is confusion and anxiety. If we were to follow even a fraction of the guidance we are given we would swing from one faddist eating pattern to another, and end up both unhealthy and quite miserable.

The Timeline is very much a work in progress, highlighting the swings of dietary fashion which even in the last few decades have seen familiar foods such as eggs, red meat and fibre both championed and vilified.

Over the next few months we will be filling in the gaps of the Timeline and charting more clearly the fall and rise of single food items, including those that are claimed to cause cancer, then protect against cancer, and then be totally unrelated to cancer, or blood cholesterol, or obesity, or heart disease, or migraines, or whatever.

SIRC very much welcomes contributions to the Timeline from everyone who has an interest either in generating a more balanced approach to diet and nutrition or wishes to highlight particular inconsistencies. These should be sent to timeline@sirc.org.

Perhaps the only consistent strand that emerges from the Timeline is that 'healthy' eating involves a variety of foods. If we set aside the idea that there is such a thing as a 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' food, and instead eat a wide range of foods, then we might just end up with a diet that is not only balanced and reasonably healthy but also enjoyable. It could also be that deriving pleasure from food, rather than living in fear of it, might soon be shown to be a critical factor in a truly healthy lifestyle.

Click here to go to the timeline.