In July 2002, The New York Times Magazine published “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?,” a cover story by food journalist Gary Taubes arguing that the carbohydrates in our diets, not the fat, were the likely cause of obesity and heart disease. What sounds perfectly reasonable now — essentially a defense of Atkins and Paleo — was at the time akin to heresy. The critical avalanche that followed was swift and relentless, including aCenter for Science in the Public Interest newsletter cover accusing Taubes of promulgating “Big Fat Lies,” a Reason magazine takedown headlined, “Big Fat Fake,” and a Newsweek scolding, written by a former friend, titled, “It’s Not the Carbs, Stupid.”
Almost fifteen years later, much of what Taubes was pilloried for writing in 2002 has become conventional wisdom. Michael Pollan has since referred to Taubes as the Alexander Solzhenitsyn of nutrition research, and he’s been asked to lecture at over 60 universities and medical schools worldwide — from the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic to Harvard Law School and Oxford University. Taubes is now widely considered to be one of the most influential authorities in nutrition. With his latest book,The Case Against Sugar, coming out from Knopf in December, we asked him to write about his time in the wilderness. Below, in his own words, Taubes ruminates on bouncing back from professional ridicule.