Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on Emily's 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution' post

Wow, all those comments on the Jamie Oliver post are great.  That’s what makes this so much fun, I appreciate everyone posting.  Clearly there are some positive aspects to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: and certainly he is bringing attention to the deplorable school food situation in this country.

He also genuinely wants to improve health of our country’s children, and he aims to teach people how to cook for themselves.  Jamie Oliver’s passion for healthy eating is admirable, but his recommendations on healthy eating are not scientifically sound.  ‘Made from scratch’ does not mean ‘health-promoting' and the missed opportunity for significant change is enormous.

The science of nutrition unfortunately is not common knowledge.  In order to make meaningful dietary changes, people need to be educated.  They need to be given accurate information, not a diluted version designed to keep them in their comfort zone to avoid making them uncomfortable. When people are given the accurate information, they can make an educated decision, and many will be inspired to make significant dietary changes, excited about the prospect of excellent health.  Others will never be convinced or at least not until their lives are in immediate danger.  Unfortunately moderate dietary changes do not remove food addictions, prevent overeating and do little to nothing to lower rates of heart disease and cancer.   We are not talking about veganism here, but there is both an opportunity and a responsibility when you have a public voice advocating a healthful diet to really advocate something that is healthy.  Large changes do not have to happen overnight, but with the right information, people will know what their eventual goals are and overall many more people could be positively affected. .

Many of the comments on this post call Jamie’s show a “step in the right direction” – but does the show actually represent Jamie’s recommendations as only the first step?  Similar to the U.S. government’s recommendation to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, Jamie’s recommendations are simply not enough to prevent or reverse disease or to result in significant weight loss.  This information misleads people into thinking that the first step is actually the whole journey.  So many people think they already eat healthy diets when they don’t – and it is in part because half measures and baby steps are portrayed as the real thing.

It is not enough to simply switch from very harmful foods to freshly prepared and somewhat less harmful foods.  Moderate changes most often don’t even bring moderate benefits, they bring no benefits.  Complacency in moderate changes will not prevent heart attacks and cancers and people will continue to suffer and die needlessly.  If people do not want to eat healthfully, that is their right, but let’s make it clear, Jamie is well-intentioned, but he is not teaching anything close to a health-supporting diet.  



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Comments (30) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Dean Laterra - April 21, 2010 8:48 PM

Well said! It's a nice start, but not the whole truth.

amy - April 21, 2010 8:59 PM

Dr. Fuhrman, I always think of your analogy about cigarettes when I hear people talking about steps in the right direction. Is it better to cut down from two packs of cigarettes a day to one? Is it better enough to matter?

I think it's a shame that the truth about optimal nutrition doesn't make its way into the mainstream media the way watered-down versions do. However, I suppose that since the meat and dairy industries are, shall we say, invested in convincing folks that animal foods are wholesome, it isn't surprising.

Leanne - April 21, 2010 9:33 PM

I'm with Fuhrman on this...somewhat.

BUT the state of eating habits across the world are so awful that Jamie's step in the right direction, if it can be implemented, is a vast improvement.

Heck, we're talking about kids age 12 with juvenile diabetes! I'm all in favour of not missing opportunities, but it is a war zone out there. First get the bodies out of the trenches, THEN deal with optimum nutrition.

And yes, I think Fuhrman is absolutely awesome.

It's just I see what kids are eating these days, and it makes Jamie's home cooked burgers look like health food by comparison.

Because, by comparison, they are.

justdisa - April 21, 2010 9:59 PM

Maybe it's easier if you think of the guy as a gateway drug to healthy eating...

sandy abernathy - April 21, 2010 11:33 PM

I think Jamie Oliver is doing a wonderful job of trying to put more vegetables and fresh foods into our schools. So tell me....what has Dr. Fuhman done to bring attention to congress to help change the foods selections in public schools? At least Jamie Oliver went to some schools and educated some people and televisted it to teach anyone who would tune into the program. He's at least trying to get processed foods out of the schools. A person should not criticize someone for doing good. I'm glad Jamie Oliver is helping to get processed foods out of public schools. Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise for kids!!!

Orange Crush Kitchen - April 22, 2010 1:41 AM

couldn't agree more with this, but we also need to remember that Jamie Oliver's training and education are from a culinary perspective and not a nutritional science one. He's a chef, not a nutritionist.

Judy - April 22, 2010 6:08 AM

I agree with your thoughts. However Jamie is a chef and perhaps needs to be given the right tools and information. I don't think he should be stopped, but I think he needs to be better informed.

CACC - April 22, 2010 7:39 AM

I think the most important point you made in your post is that while Jamie's "revolution" is just a baby step in the right direction, it is portrayed as the end goal. I'm thinking of the family on the show whose 12-year-old son is borderline diabetic. Certainly living on frozen pizza is doing him no good, but will switching to homemade mac and cheese going to halt his diabetes? Hardly.

One thing about the show that struck me is that all these kids are eating breakfast and lunch provided by school every day. Is that normal in public schools today? I always thought I would have more control over my son's food because I would feed him breakfast at home and pack his lunch. Do kids not bring packed lunches anymore? I would be interested in comments on this matter from Dr. and Lisa Fuhrman and from other parents here. The thought of my son (who is just a baby right now) eating this junk every day is enough to make me think about home schooling!

Jeane - April 22, 2010 9:29 AM

In your book "Eat to Live", which I just finished reading,
settled this matter for me, once and for all. On page 247
you say, not to add stress to your life by trying to persuade everyone you meet to eat this way, that our own good health will be the best persuasion. Works for me!!

Nancy - April 22, 2010 12:04 PM

Dr.Fuhrman, why don't you and Jamie join forces? How awesome would that be? I for one would LOVE to see the two of you together on TV. Can we make it happen? Nancy, RN

Ann - April 22, 2010 1:51 PM

I agree with Dr. Furhman, who I might add to Sandy's point, does in fact work with schools to educate parents and kids on nutritional excellence. We have a long way to go if the folks who visit THIS BLOG think that Jamie should be applauded. Thanks for the post Dr. F!

Laura - April 22, 2010 2:29 PM

While I agree that Jamie is not promoting a 100% health-supporting diet I am anxious to see if his petition that he will be taking to the White House (click on URL to sign) will be successful in changing the USDA school lunch requirements.

As someone who works in a school and helps to administer this program, I have often frowned upon the types of foods that actually can be served in order to meet these requirements. (i.e. french fries = vegetable, cereals with sugar being their main ingredient = bread). This program misleads our children as far as their nutrition education from a very young age and it really must stop!

Kat - April 22, 2010 2:40 PM


I am anxious to see if his petition that he will be taking to the White House (click on URL to sign) will be successful in changing the USDA school lunch requirements.

Sadly, I think this is very unlikely. The very large food companies are huge political cronies and politicians like to hand out contracts to their cronies. It's a very sad reality indeed.

kels - April 22, 2010 8:23 PM

Jamie Oliver is wonderful, plus, he has a lot of appeal to a younger audience. Gotta give him a ton of credit for trying to do something, even if it may not be exactly perfect. When I watch the show and I see his passion, it moves me to tears everytime....love him and his show! The kids are so inspired and so are their parents. What more could you ask for, he stands out as a leader, leading people on their way to better nutrtion and health, join the Food Revolution everyone!!!!

kaselle - April 22, 2010 10:16 PM

Yes, I am loving the Food Revolution shows and will set my schedule to make sure I am home to watch. I know his plan is not 100% healthy, but he is motivating people! He is getting out there and getting people back in to their kitchens. Can't wait for the next episode, plus, the food looks delicious. I know he is not completely healthy, but it beats counting a french fry as a vegetable, like they do in schools currently. Jamie states how "upset" he was that they did that. He is even influencing those who you never thought would change, so he does deserve a round of applause. p.s. Also enjoy Dr. Fuhrman's plans. It's wonderful to have so many choices in this wonderful country we live in.

shelle - April 22, 2010 11:34 PM

That would be awesome if Dr. F teamed up with Mr. Oliver!

Sharon Shaw - April 23, 2010 12:25 AM

Dr. Fuhrman influencing Jamie Oliver? Now, THAT would be a real Food Revolution!!

Reg Wilkins - April 23, 2010 9:50 AM

OK, so who can forward this post to Jamie Oliver?

Jill - April 23, 2010 12:52 PM

I've found this discussion to be absolutely fascinating. Thanks to Dr. Fuhrman for responding, and I absolutely agree that he and Jamie Oliver should team up together!

Les Witherspoon - April 23, 2010 4:11 PM

I haven't watched the Food Revolution, but I will say that as much as I agree with Dr. Fuhrman that homemade doesn't equal healthy... the fact is, getting people to start cooking again as a critical step in getting them to adopt any healthful diet. Fuhrman is giving them do-able steps that they see as achievable, and motivating them with the prospect of a new identity - someone who cooks healthfully.

I'd suggest Dr. Fuhrman read the book "Switch" and possibly consider where he might apply it to make his message more widely known. It seems that motivating people by fear ain't necessarily the way to go, even in the face of crisis.

Ben Atkin - April 23, 2010 4:40 PM

Yes! People like Michael Pollan and Jamie Oliver give advice as if it were complete advice, when it's not, and it's often wrong. It's common for people to pretend to be experts when there's a good chance they're the most expert person most of their audience has heard to that point. It's misleading.

I read Food Rules right after I purchased a huge asian stoneware plate that I really like. When I got to the rule about eating from a smaller plate, I thought it was a good point, and was bummed, because I wasn't going to use that big plate. Thanks to Dr. Fuhrman, I know I'll be able to get lots of good use from that plate while eating healthfully.

I'm not sure that much can be done about people who are speaking as if they're authorities in subjects that they're not true experts on. I think we'll find more success in adjusting people's information filters. After I started reading Eat To Live three days ago, I realized that my information filter needs to be adjusted. I think most will realize it after they read Dr. Fuhrman's books. It will help not just in my health, but in my diet career, and personal finance, as well.

I think the idea is still to get more people to read Dr. Fuhrman's books. I still think Michael Pollan and Jamie Oliver share valuable information - they don't do it with a high signal to noise ratio. Theirs is higher than most, but still not high enough that I can recommend their books.

Thanks for providing more insight into the problem of getting sound health advice to a wider audience, Dr. Fuhrman.

Les Witherspoon - April 23, 2010 4:46 PM

And by the way, regarding my earlier post, I'm a fan of Dr. Fuhrman's plan, and plan on incorporating it into my own practice (I'm a naturopathic medical student, graduating in a year).

alls - April 24, 2010 2:19 AM

Did anyone see the finale tonight? I can't belive I missed it, and I did not TiVo it!!! I am so disappointed. Was it as superb and well-done like the rest of his shows? Does anyone know if it will be reaired or how I can see the last Food Revolution program? I am so disapponted, I have faithfully watched them all and loved them, even shed a few tears at the tremendous effort this man is undertaking and the compassion he has for his fellow humans. Or if it wasn't very good, I won't feel so bad about having missed it, still bummed!!!!!

carfree - April 24, 2010 2:55 PM

alls- you can watch the show online. I work Friday nights, so I usually watch the next day. It actually has fewer commercials that way, too. Google to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

Peanut - April 25, 2010 12:18 AM

I loved watching Jamie's Food Revelation. It was an eye opener as to how bad school children are eating. I think Jamie did a great job, but it's only the beginning. Jamie had a difficult time just getting fresh food into the schools and processed food out,so can you imagine the walls that would be thrown up if Dr F went into the schools? I applaud Jamie for giving it a go. US schools need to make it a priority to teach healthy eating to all children K-12grade and follow it up with nutritious food in the cafeteria.

jane - April 25, 2010 1:19 PM

I too, am a huge fan and think Jamie is making an incredible difference in lives everywhere. I have so much respect for someone being willing to take on these school districts who are forced to follow so many strict standards of the SAD. Jamie has the kind of attitude that make people like, heck, love him...and he is able to influence people that would never have considered eating anything other than boxed mac n' cheese and corn being their most adventerous veggie. Cheers to Jamie!!!

chris - April 26, 2010 7:43 AM

I love and agree totally with all your comments but here are my thoughts about schools and kids and veggies I always thought that just like they are trying to start in the cities on little plots of land gardens schools should have gardens for the kids to work and learn first hand about veggies from k-12 the produce going into their lunches what person doesn't love to eat what they have grown and or picked themselves a garden class/ club would be awesome there are some kids out there that are not into sports who would love the physical workout and team work too. And maybe someone should send Jamie Dr F's books quite and education right there no?

General Healthy - April 27, 2010 6:37 AM

I agree 100%. Those ingredients and the resulting food are "not as bad as" the processed food...yet still may not be healthy. I suspect you are not a fan of "Eat This Not That" books, either (I am not a fan).

However, in the 1900's, we had all the "scratch" ingredients that seem to be unhealthy, and yet we suffered a lot less heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Then, there's Michael Pollan, who believes that there is something intrinsic to "real food" ingredients. I just saw him speak in Ohio and he indicated societies that eat higher levels of real fat, yet don't suffer the same illness.

Then, there's Dr. Esselstyn, who I've met twice. Plant perfect eating...makes you heartattack proof.

Many very bright people with differing perspectives makes it tough for all.

Thanks. And keep up the good fight!!

General Healthy

mykgerard - April 27, 2010 3:42 PM

I support the work of Dr. Fuhrman. I also support the work of Jamie Oliver. I do not think they are mutually exclusive. Sure some may believe that Jamie's answers are the whole solution, and that may be a problem, but lets get real. The majority of people are just not ready to become nutritarians regardless of how well they are educated. I can see a majority going towards a more Fuhrmanesque way of eating in a future state of society but not just yet. I signed Jamie's petition because I'm a teacher and I see the "food" my students are fed I don't consider it food. It would be nice to see them eat real food rather than things that would last forever if you left them out because of all the chemicals added to them. Can you honestly say that if Dr. Fuhrman had Ryan Seacrest backing him up with a show with is recommendations that it would do anywhere near as well in our current nutritional climate? I honestly think the answer to that is no. Perhaps in 50 years we will have a Nutritarian revolution, but for now it will probably stay what it is... Individuals seeking out the true reality of what is healthy for themselves, and finding the best advice lies with Dr. Fuhrman. People motivated to do what is BEST for them follow will Dr. Fuhrman's recommndations. We don't live in a society of people who are interested in eating what is BEST for them, but I think most people would switch to real food over fake food if it was convenient. I think it is ultimately about what society as a whole has a mental/emotional/spiritual capacity to do at this time.

Bob Luhrs - June 5, 2012 12:33 PM

Having made a very weak start as a Nutritarian, just sprinkling peas on my pot roast, then slowly adopting more and more of it, I am happy to have made major changes, and lost 25 lbs, feel better, skin tone much better, and more. I think it can be done gradually and it's been presented clearly enough that people can adapt to it one addition at a time. I added more peas and beans and elbowed out some of the pot roast, for instance, till pot roast was a garnish. The two others I enticed into Dr. Fuhrman's Garden of Eden feel the same way, and they jumped in harder, both being seriously over-weight and getting ill in their 60's. They were starting to heavy prescriptions to take on a timer. They are still interested in some of their old foods but when they try them again, they can't take much since their bodies want better food now and it tells them so. Nobody's forcing this on them. They, like me, want to be in the Dr. Fuhrman group, not the control group!

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