When it comes to nutrition, P.K. Newby knows what she’s talking about.
Newby, who was raised in Port Washington, has a doctoral degree in nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health and master’s degrees in public health and human nutrition from Columbia University. But she said too many people get their nutrition advice from celebrities who don’t know what they are talking about.
“Science has a lot of the answers [on nutrition] but you wouldn’t know because of all these nonscientific voices,” she said. “You have Gwyneth Paltrow who runs Goop, which is a nightmare, or Dr. Oz, who has been called out for his quackery. There are way too many people giving bad advice.”
Newby brought her science-backed approach to her new book, “Food and Nutrition: What Everyone Needs to Know.” She will be returning to her hometown to discuss the book at the Port Washington Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. The book will be available for purchase during the event.
“One of my taglines for the book is ‘nutrition confusion ends here,'” she said. “It is accessible, evidence-based nutrition.”
Newby was born and raised in Port Washington and graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School. It was during her youth that she first took an interest in food and nutrition.
“I always had a deep love of food,” she said. “My mother was a cook and I learned baking at a young age.”
Newby was active with track and theater at Schreiber. She also got into the restaurant business by working at Finn MacCool’s on Main Street during summers throughout high school and college.
She said she also wanted to be a scientist, and nutrition was a good way to combine that with her passion for food. After finishing her schooling (she also obtained a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the State University of New York at Albany, with minors in psychology and sociology) she returned to Harvard as adjunct associate professor of nutrition. She also previously taught at Boston University.
Outside of teaching, she previously wrote another book on nutrition, “Superfoods,” in 2016 and co-authored another, “Foods for Health: Choose and Use the Very Best Foods for Your Family and Our Planet,” in 2014. She appeared in the ABC cooking show “The Taste” during the 2014-15 season and frequently blogs.
One of the things that irks Newby the most about wellness companies like Paltrow’s Goop is that the products are unnecessarily expensive. She said that eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot.
“It’s important that people have fruits and vegetables, and I always say that having frozen fruits and vegetables is a way to get the nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables, and you don’t have to worry about it going bad,” she said.
In addition to cutting through the misinformation, Newby’s new book looks to provide more information than just calories about the foods people eat.
“For example, the Paleo diet has a lot of protein, maybe too much protein, and that can damage your health and the environment,” she said, noting that the production of meat has had a negative impact on the planet. “What you eat has an impact on the environment … so when you look through the book’s index, you can find information on things like pesticides and fertilizer.”
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance