Endurance sports and nutrition writer Matt Fitzgerald has a book coming out this spring titled Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US. The premise? Restrictive diets are not really all about better health:
Since as far back as the Kosher dietary laws of the ancient Hebrews and even before, human beings have formed group identities and derived a sense of moral superiority from eating by strict rules. This instinct has become so deeply ingrained in human nature that infants as young as three months old express a dislike for those who seem not to share their food preferences. The modern obsession with identifying (and identifying with) the “healthiest” diet is merely a new twist on the same old phenomenon. People who become convinced that a certain way of eating is best for everyone believe they are making a rational choice in pursuit of improved health, whereas they are primarily making an emotional and moralistic choice to join a special group that makes them feel good about themselves.
Nathan Riley does a much longer riff on this deep-seated need to belong in In Defense of Your Crossfit “Cult” over at Sweat and Butter.