17 December 2014: Negative nutrition conspiracies

It seems lately (or really for forever now) that our news sites are cluttered with the ‘latest’ nutrition news and shocking revelations. What is bad for us this week, what lies we have been fed and the latest short cut to good health. Whatever advice is conveyed appears to contradict the advice given yesterday. It also seems that the opinions conveyed are done with absolute conviction and not only that, there is often much vitriol, condescension and admonishing of any other view point offered. I find this perplexing and also concerning. The fact is that we are still learning so much about nutrition and nutrition is regards to the human body. Even the most renowned experts within the field – the ones entrenched in the actual research. The ones getting down and dirty with the real evidence – change their opinions as more is uncovered. So it seems strange or perhaps self serving to me to read others, who themselves have down a little reading or perhaps have experimented on themselves can say with such certainty how we all should be eating. And further, that if you do not eat this exact way then not only are you a very silly human being but you are failing yourself – making yourself sick and studied and that you are also committing child abuse on your current or even future children. Now I am the first to agree that we as a species have generally lost our way when it comes to food. We eat too much. We eat too much non-food (that is to say fake food – the processed, the packaged, the ‘changed’ and unrecognisable). We have fallen into the trap of thinking that convenience food is actually more convenient – or perhaps we have forgotten or never leant how to cook. And unfortunately we have also been tricked by multi national food companies who have so wheedled their way into our lives at all levels that it is now cheaper to buy the fake food than it is to buy the foods picked straight from the ground. I think too we have become confused – even those who are trying or wishing to ‘do the right thing; and eat healthy are confused by the myriad of conflicting messages and knowing who to believe.

However amongst all this ‘noise’ there has to be a very simple message. Just eat food, real food. Not fake food. The rest is extraneous. Sure there are people for whom dairy might not be agreeable. There are others who need to avoid gluten, or even all grains. There are others who need to adhere to strict levels of carbohydrates or fats. But these are all individual - and for the majority of people any restrictions like this represent just a small component of getting their health back on track and eating better. To focus on these elements as make or break not only confuses people and puts them off actually even trying to eat better, but also misses the point entirely and displays ignorance on the part of the passionate advocate. The greater picture comes from just eating real food – avoiding or cutting back on refined foods, sugars, refined grains and carbohydrates, avoiding processed foods, artificial ingredients – getting back in the kitchen more, visiting a farmers market. These are the things that will make a difference. Not focusing on how many carbs someone is easting or whether they eat beans. After all what we do know is that while we are all similar we are not the same. Not do we need to eat the same.

So the next time you hear someone announce with absolute certainty what you should or should not be eating, pause for thought. Consider what their motives are, consider how they know this with absolute conviction (while remembering that we are just in the infancy of nutrition as a science), consider whether what they are so against is an actual real food or not, and have an open mind. They may well be right. Or they might be wrong. What I do know though is that there is no need for anyone to be disparaging or dismissive of alternative view points. The science is still out and what we need are open minds to affect any progress and changes as opposed to closed dogmatic approaches that don’t allow for new knowledge and discoveries or allow for the flexibility and individuality that must accompany every unique individual.