We live in a society that is obsessed with health. Seriously though, can you go a single day without hearing about the latest fad diet, new super food or the “benefits” from cutting carbs? You might be thinking, So what. Is that really a bad thing? I’m going to go ahead and say, yes. Now hear me out, I’m not about to get all fake news and start a war about the keto-diet on Facebook, but maybe.
So, what’s so bad about hearing non-stop nutrition advice and it’s impact on our health? Simply put, it is hard to know which messages are true and which ones are not. When you read a headline that says, New Research Shows Drinking Alkaline Water Helps with Weight Loss, that sounds pretty legit. However, most of the time there is a whole lot of key information left out to make the headline interesting and marketable. I mean how would you feel if you read the headline, New Research Says Drinking Alkaline Water Helps with Weight Loss, But More Research Is Needed to Make a Conclusion? Well, that sounds boring...and long. But that’s just part of the problem.
Not only are most headlines deceiving, we now have an abundance of so called “nutrition experts.” Like when did it start being ok for Gwyneth Paltrow to give everyone nutrition and health advice? Equally bizarre, why are the Kardashians telling us what to eat? What’s worse is hearing bogus advice from someone who does have medical credentials, like Dr. Oz. He gives information such poor science to back it up or no science at all. Some of it even contradicts available science. So, why do this? Because it makes money.
It makes money because nutrition science is complicated. I’m a dietitian and even I think it is. This is why so much of the information sounds believable. When I go to an auto mechanic and he tells me I need more headlight fluid, I’m probably going to be like, Ok, put it on my tab. That’s because cars are complicated. Especially to a person who knows little about them and how they work. So, if someone that seemingly has more experience with cars than I do, gives me advice that sounds good, I’m likely going to take the advice. The same can be said about nutrition.
Nutrition science is complicated because it’s hard for nutrition researchers to come up with concreate answers to most nutrition studies. This is because there are so many other factors to consider. Did the alkaline water help with the weight loss or did the participant make other lifestyle changes or eat other foods that helped with weight loss? It’s hard to know for sure. But to claim something is absolutely true or good nutrition advice, and deceive people to make a profit, is irresponsible and potentially dangerous.
In case this isn’t starting to look problematic, let’s keep going for minute. We all know Dr. Oz is a little wacky, but when your home town doc gives nutrition advice, it must right. Right? I’m not saying doctors aren’t credible. They absolutely are! But most doctors don’t get a ton of training on nutrition. And that’s fine. This when they can refer to a dietitian. A comparison would be when a contractor hires an electrician. The contractor knows a whole lot about how to build a house, but the electrician solely specializes in this one area, electricity. The problem comes in when the doctor recommends a weight loss diet that has strict and ridged food rules that are impossible to follow. When you can’t follow the impossible rules, you lose self-confidence, not weight. It surprises me that some doctors still do this because science clearly says, over and over, diets don’t work and most people end up gaining the weight back and more.
So again, why is this overabundance of nutrition information and experts not helpful? Because it makes nutrition so much more complicated than it already is. And given that we are a society obsessed with health and nutrition, we are all hearing and following a good amount of nutrition information that is just strait up not true. We follow these food trends and fad diets all in the name of health. But are they truly making us healthier? In a lot of cases, they are not. Many times, an eating disorder can occur from all this information about off limit foods. There really needs to be some accountability for giving nutrition and health information because giving bad and harmful nutrition advice that makes food scary causes problems.
What’s the take away message from this preachy post? If you are thinking about following the latest nutrition trend or diet, remind yourself where you got this information from and if you truly believe following this will be beneficial for you. Also ask yourself, is the information from an actual expert in the field of nutrition? Does this information seem credible? If you’re still unsure, reach out and ask before starting something that could potentially impact your physical and mental health negatively.
Remember, food should be enjoyable. We can all benefit from having a better relationship with food. And if you’re struggling with body image, weight or nutrition concerns, book a consult with a dietitian. We are taught to give credible, science based, nutrition advice. We can help you with body image and weight management without insisting you follow unsustainable rigid diets with weird trendy food rules. Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself. We are all living in this information overload world.