Educate yourself!!

I think part of the problem resulting in obesity is the lack of nutrition education without Big Ag influence. What we should eat is not a complicated issue that requires a degree to understand, it does however require some simple logic and investigation on the individual’s part. I believe most people know that they should eat more vegetables and fruit, but I think that fad diets and other influences have tainted our common sense and confused the average consumer. Here’s an example: the MyPlate food guide that replaced the Food Pyramid still had quite a few Big Ag influences but to an average consumer doesn’t seem that bad. Here is an article comparing the USDA’s MyPlate to Harvard’s Clean Plate.

Would you ever have caught the Big Ag influences in MyPlate if it hadn’t been pointed out? These companies lobby Congress as well as have many former execs now working in the USDA, some at very high levels. It’s no wonder that nutrition advice coming from our government will always have Big Ag’s bottom line on the agenda and therefore won’t be able to give the true advice needed.

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I point all of this out to say that if you live and eat and are at all concerned about eating properly whether for reasons such as weight control, health, child nutrition, etc. make sure to fully research where you’re getting your advice from. I highly suggest being aware of anyone making a profit off of your health, not saying every MD or celebrity trainer out there who’s written a diet book is out to take advantage of  your desire to eat right, but thats where much of our fad diet trends and unsuccessful yo-yo dieting has stemmed from. How do you know if something is worth while or not? In my humble opinion, a book about nutrition worth reading will list plenty of references to studies supporting it’s claims and these references will be legitimate studies.

Also beware of health or nutrition advice that is tied to certain products (again hunting for a profit here) or focused solely on one nutrient. As much as I love nutrition and food science, I hate that nutrition research is so reductionist. There are a few researchers out there that have woken up to the fact that its the synergy of food and their components thats important, not one individual nutrient.  So while yes, omega-3s may be great, just because you eat more of them doesn’t mean you can slack off everywhere else in your diet or that every last food item on the table needs to have omega-3s added to them to be “healthy”.

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My favorite books on the topic of what to eat and why are actually written by someone not connected to the food industry, healthy and wellness industry, or medical/nutrition research. He was just an investigative journalist looking to answer the question “What should we eat?” for his family and himself. His name is Michael Pollan. He has written three books on the subject of what to eat “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” “In Defense of Food” and “Food Rules”. He wrote them in that order but whenever someone asks me what they should eat I usually tell them to read them in reverse order. “Food Rules” is a boiled down list of simple rules to follow when selecting what to eat. If you just want to know what to do and not why then stop reading here. If you want to know more about how he came to the conclusions that he did then go on to read “In Defense of Food” and if you really want to get in depth with the background of where and how our food is produced then read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I realize that yes, he does make a profit from you buying his books, but his footnotes and references are great. I feel like “In Defense of Food” was an extremely long research paper. The fact that he truly didn’t have any great insight into nutrition before he began his investigations means he had to use his investigative journalism skills to their fullest extent.

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I hope that helps to send you in the right direction in your search to answer “what should I eat?” and maybe open your eyes to why our government’s nutrition recommendations aren’t the greatest.

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One thought on “Educate yourself!!

  1. Interesting points. I’ve been advocating the my plate method to my diabetic patients, and hadn’t really thought about the big ag influence. It just seemed like something that would be understandable and easy for them to remember.

    As far as nutrition books, I’m working on reading David Kessler’s book right now, and hope to write about it in the future.

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