Published on 12th February 2019


We talk to Ian Marber, nutritional therapist, author and health writer. Ian’s latest book, ManFood: The no-nonsense guide to improving your health and energy in your 40s and beyond, is due out on the 4th April. 


Where did your passion for nutrition come from?

“It started when I was in my late teens and initially was no more of a vague interest. I had had digestive problems on and off since I was a child which became more insistent when I started working full time in my twenties. I had consulted a doctor and a specialist at one point but really wasn’t getting anywhere. I played around with my diet with limited success, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing so never stuck to anything for long.  It wasn’t until I was 29 that a new doctor suggested coeliac disease, which was subsequently confirmed with a biopsy, and it all went from there. I started a gluten-free diet and my symptoms faded away, replaced by a passion for nutrition. I think I was irritatingly evangelical in the early days, I think that’s common though.”


Your latest book is aimed specifically at middle-aged men. What drove you to write the book?

“I have long felt that men have fewer resources for health than women, which may be our own fault as men take less care of themselves, often relying on women to guide them. In the media I noted that health for men was either a Love Island type body, or a fat bloke eating a full English, neither of which represent most men in the 40s and upwards. I wanted to write something for the rest of us, the majority who bumble along with no particular plan or knowledge, that wasn’t about weight-loss, instead the health issues that are (or will be) familiar to most men. I have covered prostate health, sleep and hormonal health amongst others, with advice tailored for the way many men live.”


We are regularly exposed to conflicting dietary advice (vegan vs paleo, high fat/low carb vs high carb low fat, fasting vs. snacking, etc.)… What should we actually be eating?

“Isn’t the notion that there is one way we should be eating part of the problem? I wonder how many people follow a plan that they don’t really enjoy in the belief that its ‘ideal’? The advice about all these diets is compelling, but as we know there isn’t one way to eat. By all means follow a vegan or vegetarian diet if that fits in with your beliefs, but I think the best diet is one that suits the individual. That may be intermittent fasting, low carb or paleo, but whatever it is we have to make sure that our nutritional needs are being met, and that the plan meets those requirements rather than, say, solely manages what we weigh.” 


What is the idea behind your weekly #nutribollocks feature on Twitter?

“There wasn’t a grand plan when I started it off in summer 2017. I had seen a couple of posts on Twitter with ridiculous nutrition claims that I felt deserved calling out, so I ran a quick poll asking which was worse. The response was huge and it was fun too, so I started a weekly poll. I get sent nominations all the time now and try to pitch those similar in tone each week, so that it’s a fair fight. I hope that by calling out the worst culprits we can raise the standard of how nutrition is communicated.”


Are there any food trends that you particularly disagree with?

“Not really although [those] that are based on dishonesty, or solely promoted for commercial reasons, stick in my throat. Most food trends come from the media who in turn can be influenced by celebrity or marketing, and so I wish they would be more discerning.”


Do you follow any ‘food rules’? What does your daily diet look like?

“I don’t, aside from the gluten-free necessitated by coeliac disease. I am mindful of eating well, some days [are] better than others. A typical day is smoked salmon and avocado for breakfast, with black coffee, not for keto reasons, more because I enjoy it and it satisfies my appetite for several hours. Lunch might be chicken salad with a couple of oat cakes, dinner steak or fish with lots of vegetables and some brown rice. I might have a handful of Brazil nuts and an apple between meals. I love chocolate but when I do have it I don’t go for the dark and organic type you might think I might, instead it’s the milk with added sugar variety. It’s rare so I figure I can do it.”

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