There’s little that brings division more than beliefs.
Whether that’s religious, political, or even within healthcare.
I see it regularly in the diet world these days.
There are a lot of passionate people out there talking about what they eat, and essentially telling you what you should be eating, too.
The ‘real’ food movement is rife with this.
Weston A Price, Paleo, grain free, vegetarian, vegan, clean eating, and so many more.
Within these groups you’ll find a variety of dietary theories, and people completely and utterly convinced that their way of eating is the absolute best.
I can remember when I began looking into the Paleo diet.
I had mixed feelings of complete shock and awe as I discovered how firmly many believed in this lifestyle, and at the incredible ability of supporters to ‘evangelize’ others to follow suit.
Something we can easily forget, though, is that one man’s food is another man’s poison! Tweet this
Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m all for people taking responsibility for their own health, and endeavoring to eat the best diet.
And I find it encouraging that others are so dedicated to the cause.
Some sites I’ve come across, however, are little more than fear-mongering!
If you were to listen to what they said, you would be afraid to pick up your non organic, pesticide doused grapes, for fear of developing cancer, or some other such horrific disease.
There’s no doubt it’s difficult to get the balance right.
On one hand, it’s great that nutrition get’s so much ‘air time’ these days, but sometimes rather than helping you get a grasp of what a healthy diet looks like, you start to feel totally confused and bamboozled by the vast array of choice available to you.
This can be enough to make shopping, meal planning, and eating a far more exhausting set of activities than they should be.
So, here are 6 tips to help end your diet confusion
1. Understand That You Are a Unique Individual
Let’s be clear, there is no perfect way of eating that works for everybody.
Please remember this the next time your friend endeavors to convince you that the latest diet she’s following would be perfect for you, too.
We all have very specific needs, according to our current health status, age, constitution, gender, size, lifestyle, even ancestry.
So, when you take nutritional advice from someone, you should always ask yourself if that person is taking into consideration your whole being, rather than simply advising that you jump on the latest diet bandwagon.
That will help you weed out a lot of the poor advice you get from others, and prevent you from the dreaded yo-yo dieting cycle that crushes your spirit.
2. Recognize That Nutrition is Complex
A major source of the diet confusion you feel is because the nutritional information you get is often contradictory.
There are a number of reasons for this, but it must be acknowledged that human nutrition is a complex area, which means we are always learning new things.
Science can only study one or two small pieces of this intricate puzzle at the time, so it can be difficult to draw conclusions that are completely accurate.
We make our dietary recommendations based on what studies we have available to us at that time, but we need to accept that this could very well change again when a new piece of the puzzle comes to light.
One example of this was the advice to avoid eggs because they contain cholesterol.
More recent research tells us that the cholesterol found in food does not have a bad effect on your body as we once thought.
Another was the advice to replace butter with margarine.
However, we later discovered that the trans fats in margarine is really bad for health, and should be completely avoided.
So, simply recognizing that diet advice can and will change from time to time won’t end your diet confusion, but it will help you to expect it and therefore you feel less frustrated by the changing advice.
3. Realize Mainstream Media ‘Hype’ Things Up
We must admit the media like to sensationalize things.
That’s what they do best. It’s how they sell issues.
So, each of us would do well to remember this next time we feel persuaded about some matter they are reporting on, whether it’s diet, vaccinations, or politics.
The fact is this, most newspapers or magazines are not interested in giving you the very best information to help improve your health.
They are all about the $$$$$.
That doesn’t always equate to the very best information you could be getting.
So please be careful, if this is your usual source of diet info.
4. Understand That Scientists Make Mistakes
Unfortunately, researchers sometimes commit avoidable errors, which add to our feeling of diet confusion.
This is why you shouldn’t stake everything on a piece of nutritional advice, just because it’s prefaced with the words, “recent research suggests…”
If you do, you’ll quickly find that you’re changing your diet every month.
In some cases, studies are designed or interpreted poorly. In other cases, researchers are so keen to see their pet hypothesis validated that they make the results fit.
I wish I was joking about that, but we’ve heard of data being completely ignored or thrown out when it doesn’t fit with the end result they are after.
So, how can you spot study results that should be taken with a pinch of salt?
Here are a few questions you can ask to help separate the wheat from the chaff:
1. Is the trial randomized?
In other words, have the participants been selected at random not according to the researchers bias, which can lead to those most likely to be ‘successful’ being selected.
2. Was the study ‘double blind’?
This is where neither the patient or the scientist observing them knows which participants are receiving the treatment, or not. Again this reduces bias.
3. Are the results statistically significant?
Do the results show a difference that is unlikely to have occurred by chance alone?
4. How big was the study?
Large studies are the most reliable, although small studies can provide data that is interesting, too. If the study was smaller in size, you need to account for that.
5. Who paid for the research?
If the research findings appear to be in the interest of the company which sponsored the study, you’re right to be skeptical about that.
5. Realize Not All Diet Advisers Are Qualified
Some of the people putting themselves out there as nutrition experts are nothing of the sort.
Many of their claims are myths, fabrications, or only loosely based on science to suit their own agenda.
Some of you even turn to celebrities for your diet advice.
Honestly, that is one of the worst sources out there.
I understand that sometimes it is difficult to spot a fake nutrition expert, though.
And, even trained nutrition professionals can’t always be trusted to give you the best, most up-to-date information.
So, how can you be sure you’re getting the very best info?
Well, make sure you are opting for someone who gives nutritional advice that is backed up with good science.
That means if they make a claim, it is supported by a study (preferably more than one), rather than telling you to do something because it “worked for me,” or because this anecdotal evidence says so.
They should also be able to translate this scientific advice into practical guidance that will help you make the necessary lifestyle and food choices, rather than confusing you even further.
6. Stop Looking For That Magic Formula
It has to be said that the fake experts couldn’t take advantage of the masses easily if they weren’t so keen to find that magic bullet to help them lose weight fast.
And while it’s entirely possible to get and stay slim, it isn’t always straightforward, instant, or easy.
Given a choice between a fake expert telling you what you want to hear, and a real one giving you the same old truth, all too often it’s the fraud that gets your ear.
Those big promises are hard to resist, I know it!
But don’t fall for the promise of some kind of magic dieting formula, because ultimately you’ll end up with oversimplified hyperbole, that just doesn’t work.
So, what should you do to put the diet confusion to rest in your life?
Well, try taking a step back from the specific do’s and don’ts you are trying to make your eating fit into, and look at things more generally.
Understand human nutrition as a whole is incredibly complex, but there are core principles that are not, and these should be followed by the majority of individuals.
This will help you to make better nutrition choices most of the time, without getting completely bogged down in too many specific details.
For most individuals, this would make a massive impact on their health overall.
You can always fine tune things as you go along, and become more adept in your nutrition knowledge.
Here are some basic things to remember:
- Start by removing as much packaged, processed and fast food as possible.
- Make the majority of your diet rich in highly nutritious foods.
- Figure out what works best for your body. There are a lot of passionate, well intentioned people out there who believe their lifestyle is the best. But you are a unique person, so do what’s truly best for you individually.
- Stop feeling guilty if you don’t do things ‘perfectly!’ Worry and guilt are not good for your health. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
What are your tips for ending the diet confusion once and for all?