I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t play one on TV. I did take a college-level nutrition course when I was a pre-Med major and I’ve read lots and lots on the subject. I actually understand the Krebs Cycle. But I’m not a registered dietician, so I don’t have the deep educational background needed to really digest (dissect?) each new fad that comes along.
As I debate the pros and cons of the Paleo Diet vs. the 4-Hour Body vs. Weight Watchers vs. Zen eating it all gets pretty confusing. If you really want to throw your brain into overdrive, go read ScienceDaily or the Journal of Nutrition websites and see how much conflicting, truly conflicting, information is out there.
The fact that Dr. Dean Ornish (Preventive Medicine Research Institute) and Dr. Barry Sears (The Zone Diet) frequently got into public skirmishes because both believed so ardently that they were right and the other guy was wrong should go a long way to showing you that there is no “one” answer.
The Publishing Industry Is Getting Savvier; You Need To, Too
The publishing industry is learning that a personable doctor (Dr. Oz anyone?) and a heavily researched tome (“The 4-Hour Body“) can really boost sales. If you throw a big degree around or a lot of studies from places like UCLA or Harvard, the reader will give you more credence and is more likeley to try your advice as opposed to someone else’s. Everyone makes more money (the first goal) and hopefully the reader loses weight and lives more healthfully (very much the second goal from the publisher’s point of view).
We need to be much more savvy when taking in all of this information. Is there a lot of smoke and mirrors? Are these pieces of advice one perspective of a bigger study that just happens to support the writer’s point of view? Will it work for me?
If You Read It In Three Different Places, That Doesn’t Make It True
I’ve been discovering a trend as I make my way through 30 days of “The 4-Hour Body.” I’m looking for research so I go buzz around the ‘net, find a study, and click through to the link and absorb the nugget of info. Back to my internet search I go when I hit the same nugget of info again but in a different article. My subconscious has just “reinforced” the original fact I read which makes it more “true” even though it’s the same study. A month or two later that “fact” is lodged in my brain and I just assume it’s true, even if it was a tiny participant study of 12 grad students. I don’t remember that it was a small study, just the nugget. Be careful with this one!
Science and Our DNA Evolve
In the 1970s, we believed low fats were the key to health and our burgeoning waistlines have proven that quite wrong. Science has evolved and will continue to evolve as time passes. It’s entirely possible that what is thought to be true today will be debunked and cast to the wreckage of scientific discovery. It happens all. the. time.
I’ve also been skimming through the Paleo Diet stuff (I’m considering doing 30 days of that next) and my big issue with the book is that the author is saying there has been practically zero evolution of our DNA in 333 generations (he says this several times in the book). I don’t completely buy it. I’ve been told that because I am of Northern European descent that I have a gene which metabolizes milk easily. If my ancestors were hunter/gatherers then where did that gene come from? Wouldn’t it be from evolution? While I don’t think we’re that much different than we were 333 generations ago, isn’t it possible we’ve shifted a little? Isn’t that more than possible?
Be Your Own Guinea Pig
I’d rather you get your health advice from a doctor than an actress. (Yet I’m pretty sure actresses outnumber doctors in the diet book section.) But you’re going to have to figure out what works best for you, all by yourself. It is relatively easy to get a consult from your HMO to speak with a nutritionist, so go find one and have a good chat! If you can get into a medically supervised diet program (if you need one), then please do. Even then, take what they say with a grain of salt. You might do well on low-carb, slow-carb, high-protein, vegan, all things in moderation, or just some simple stress reduction so you can ditch the munchie attacks.
You need to find your way. Not what your friend is doing (although that might work), not what your spouse is doing, and not what is being pitched by the latest guru to pop up on “The View.” You need to find your way. Keep in mind that as you grow older and your body changes, you’ll need to adjust. (Yeah, I know, that kinda sucks, but that’s life too.)
So what do you think about all the diet suggestions out there? Do you think the same is true for fitness? (Yes!!!) Have you been unsuccessful on one diet and successful on another? Please share your stories. I’m pretty passionate about this subject and I’d love to talk about it more.