Fiber. More important than calories?

Truth is, neither is a problem if you’re eating the right foods.

Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim have written a new book, “Why Calories Count,” and Mark Bittman has featured that book in one of his recent columns in the New York Times. As you might expect, the topic is all about calories, but also includes some welcome information about fiber from these mainstream writers. From Bittman’s article, he quotes the authors: (See link below):

“Fiber is special because it’s not digested or digested incompletely. Most of its calories don’t get into the body, which is one reason why fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, help with weight loss.”

As we reported in our book and numerous times on this blog, fiber is a really big deal, and most of us don’t get nearly enough of it. Lots of people spend a lot of time counting calories (usually to no avail) and virtually no time thinking about fiber or worrying about getting enough. But if we’re eating the right foods for our species, we don’t have to worry about calories or fiber—our body will get what it needs and dispose of the rest. From Mark’s article:

An important question, then, is really something like, “What can I eat to keep from putting on weight?” and here the answer turns out to be not only easy but also expected. “If you’re eating a lot of fruits and vegetables,” Nestle says, “you’re not taking in as many calories as you would if you were eating fast food and sodas.” Yes, that’s a calorie issue; the latter group is way higher in calories than the former. But though there’s a difference between eat less and eating better, “eating better makes it much easier to eat less.”

I really like that last line. That’s because I like simplicity, clarity and consistency. That last line says it all; imagine what would happen if we were all told consistently by all of the pieces of our “system” that:

Eating better (whole plants with fiber) makes it much easier to eat less (calories that we don’t need).

Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim

Like us, Ms. Nestle and Mr. Nesheim are interested in fixing the mess in which we find ourselves relative to our food and medical systems. They know that we’re eating the wrong foods and that our system is promoting confusion over clarity.

Ms. Nestle is featured prominently in Chapter 8 of our book—the chapter that is devoted to helping people everywhere understand why they have never been told the complete truth about nutrition. In that chapter, Ms. Nestle (Professor of Sociology and Nutrition at NYU) explains how “the system” works to influence the consumer in her book, Food Politics.

“We select diets in a marketing environment in which billions of dollars are spent to convince us that nutrition advice is so confusing, and eating healthfully so impossibly difficult, that there is no point in bothering to eat less of one or another food product or category.”

Toward the end of Mark Bittman’s article, he talks about how Nestle and Nesheim are thinking “big picture” as they outline the many aspects of our system that must be changed and how we can make that happen.

Their slogan: “Get organized. Eat less. Eat better. Move more. Get political…We need a farm bill that’s designed from top to bottom to support healthier diets, one that supports growing fruits and vegetables and making them cheaper. We need to fix school lunches so they’re based on fresh foods, and fix food assistance programs so people have greater access to healthier foods….Stop marketing food to kids. Period. Just make it go away…And get rid of health claims on food packages too….Unless they’re backed up by universally accepted science—which would get rid of all of them.”

Alexandra Stoddard and husband Peter Megargee Brown inspired this blog when they told me about the Mark Bittman article. Just back from Paris, they posed for this photo after I joined them near the end of their 4Leaf breakfast.

Many thanks to Mark Bittman, Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim for their contributions toward fixing our health care system. Still want more information about fiber? Here are a couple of my recent posts on that topic:

Getting enough fiber? 95% of Americans don’t. Most don’t even come close to the woefully low official guidelines. Yesterday, while thinking about my post for today, I got to thinking about fiber in our diet and why we have it. Then it occurred to me that it … Continue reading →

FIBER. How much should we be eating? An excerpt from our book and a new video added to an earlier blog. From Chapter 1 in our book on page 23, under the section entitled, “What is the Optimal Diet for Humans?” As it relates to fiber consumption: … Continue reading 

(Mark Bittman’s article) Is a Calorie a Calorie? –

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Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen. Got a question? Let me hear from you at

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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J. Morris Hicks -- Member of the Board of Directors -- Click image to visit the foundation website.

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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