So enlighten us. What have you discovered about being healthy?
Well, gosh. One of the things that struck me is that most of being healthy is really basic stuff - eating whole foods, exercising, not sitting,
sleeping, and not being angry, depressed, or stressed out. But how do we actually make ourselves do that? I came up with some strategies for how to
make myself behave in a healthier manner. Almost treating myself like a lab rat. And one of them is the quantification. The more you quantify, the
healthier you're going to act.
Like the steps you take each day, which you measure with a pedometer - which you have on right now?
Yeah, I'm not doing bad today. 7400 steps.
Are you still walking more steps that your wife?
Yes, I am. Partly because I work on a treadmill. I've set up a desk right there on the treadmill. That's one of the biggest changes I've made to my
You write in this humorous way. But is this really funny?
I think you can be entertaining and talk about health at the same time. Otherwise you're going to lose your audience, and that's not healthy. That's
the problem, I think, with a lot of the talk about "eat your vegetables," people just tune out.
It's a fine line as a writer, though. You're talking to people who take it very seriously. You bump up against using satire sometimes, but you
don't really go there.
I think that when I wrote the book about the Bible and met with all those religious fundamentalists and various religious sects, that that was great
training. I thought it was too easy to go in and make fun of religion. To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, it's like shooting cows with an AK-47. So I tried
to take it seriously and go in with a completely open mind, but also have some humor to it.
But you do in a nice-humor way go after some people's fervently held beliefs about their diet or remedy.
I think that I will get flack from a few people, because whatever you say about health, there are going to be some who are on a crusade, who think this
is similar to religion. There are the anti-vaccine people, and I come out in favor of vaccines over all. Then there's the idea of statins. There are
some anti-statins people.
The government, too, sometimes makes claims for health that later turn out to be untrue, or more complicated.
There needs to be more admission by authorities that we don't really know the answers in many cases where nutrition is concerned, and what's good for
you, or not. We should have a more agnostic approach, saying: here are the benefits, here are the potential costs - as opposed to saying everyone
should be on statins. Or everyone should be taking aspirin. For me, the one-size fits all medicine is just not going to work.
How do you deal with all the contradictions and uncertainty?
It's hard. You read that turmeric is a wonderful spice and you should be eating it with everything because it's an enhancer. And then the next day you
read, oh, they found high levels of lead in turmeric. Don't eat it. I have a few reactions. One is that yes, there is a lot of confusion. Just like in
the Bible, there's much contradiction and you have to figure it out. But I don't want to overstate the contradiction. There are plenty of things we
know that have a mountain of evidence to support them. Like exercise is good. Believe me, I looked for evidence that exercise is not good, because I
was desperate not to exercise.