How to Find Out the REAL Truth about Diet Information
I just love. Love, LOVE David Katz MD. And wonder where he finds the time to write all these mind-blowing, revolutionary articles about nutrition. The latest, entitled, Diet, and Delusions of Evidence, is no exception. In it, Katz sums up by saying …
Some contend that saturated fat is the worst of nutrition, while others contend it is sugar. I contend it is – forgive me – stupidity: a fatuous processing of food for thought, and a failure to differentiate fact from personal preference, or profiteering fantasy. So it is that dietary delusions prevail, and both diet and health are the poorer for it.
If the above confuses you … I, too, had to read the article … really read it … three times to understand what he was saying. And the gist of it … the two delusions he noted … were that every opinion about dietary evidence changes the facts about them. And opinions can also alter the standard of what he calls “sufficient evidence” about diets. Neither, he said, were true.
He also noted a possible third delusion … that both the above can also co-exist. According to Katz, “There is no way that the assertion of a non-expert opinion at odds with, or absent any meaningful evidence can be ‘enough’, in a world where a vast aggregation of consistent evidence can be dismissed as inadequate or absent by those choosing to ignore it.”
I think that’s the crux of the argument … THOSE WHO ARE CHOOSING TO IGNORE IT. Because the bottom line is that we believe what we choose to believe. Whether it is backed up by “significant evidence” or not.
Case in point … the “stinkin’ thinkin’” I’ve heard from eating disordered and other addicts for years. Yes, that’s what they call it in those anonymous rooms. And the terminology is apt. That’s why a 69-pound woman will tell you that she’s fat. Or an addict will walk into a treatment center thinking that if she lets go of her meth pipe that she’ll die.
Both stories are true. And, fortunately, neither person believes those things anymore. But their beliefs are a window into the way that nutrition information, filtered through our individual sensibilities, beliefs, and experiences, can color what we believe and how we utilize those beliefs in our daily lives.
It’s Simple to Eat Healthy!
I often tell clients that I can tell them what’s healthy to eat in FIVE MINUTES! Much more fruits and vegetables (the average American eats 1.9 servings a day), lots of whole grains and beans, lean, organic flesh foods (which include red meats … sans antibiotics and hormones), and GOOD-Fats … traditional, minimally processed fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and even lard (because very processed fats have been shown to be very BAD for us). Minimize sugar and do dairy low-fat if at all. That’s it! And, gee, it even took me less than five minutes!
I tell that to people every day. And the REALITY (sans delusional fact- and standard-changing opinions) is that good nutrition hasn’t changed in thousands of years. Although our fruits are biologically a lot sweeter. And our plant foods in general, even if they’re organic, are contaminated by a whole host of things … from pesticides to human and animal wastes. That little fact aside … it’s so simple … so …
Why Don’t People Follow Simple Nutrition Advice?
I’ve got a few theories. First of all, I see almost everyone I work with eating fast and take-out food for lunch. Even yesterday, I noticed that my dear friend had bought chicken nuggets for her twin girls as they hadn’t packed noontime food. I tend to be surrounded with styrofoam containers wherever I go.
If you’ve watched the movie, “Super Size Me”, you might have gotten the message that these foods are not only addictive but can wreck your health in a very short time (it took only three weeks for our formerly vegan-eating protagonist … he gained 25 pounds, was told by a doctor that, if he didn’t stop, he’d have a heart attack, and a dietitian commented that he was addicted to the McDonald’s meals he ate 3 times a day).
Yet the sea of styrofoam containers still burgeons. So the question looming in the back of my brain is, “WHY DON’T WE ACT ON ALL THIS REAL EVIDENCE?”
My main theory is that we 21st-century folk are ultimately lazy. The fast- and take-out foods are sooo easy to get. Also, “the joy of cooking” seems to be a thing of the past. Relegated to celebrity chefs and prepped, ready-to-cook “meals in a box”. We’d rather watch cooking as entertainment than do it ourselves. Or get it either already done or mostly put together. And for those of us who DO want to eat healthy, Whole Foods now delivers in two hours. But … guess what … not everything there is healthy either.
Let’s face it … we’re much more apt to stare dumbly at our phones than take the time to whip up something fun, creative, and fulfilling. And it’s only human that most people wait until they’re sick to entertain the thought of changing their lifestyles for the better. That takes time, energy, soul-searching, and effort. We’d much rather just stare at our phones. And gee … you can order out on them too …
And with these cultural shifts also come the rationalizations and delusions that make it all OK for us. Because if we constantly lived under the shroud of doom about our food choices, we’d be a depressed lot indeed. Instead, we shrug away the chicken nuggets with, “I didn’t have enough time today”. Or dismiss the overeating with “I was taught to clean my plate as a child [TEE HEE]”.
But, most of all, we create these delusions about diets so that we can continue to eat exactly the way we do. As a result, we create tons of meaningless conflicting data. Even some research studies are hopelessly biased. And many of us become so confused about all of it that we just give up and head for the closest In-n-Out.
It Takes Courage …
It takes courage to root out what’s really true about the food we eat (check out what I said earlier in this article about simple eating advice), take stock of what we’re currently doing that doesn’t suit us, make some plans to change those behaviors, and follow through with them. Courage and planning. Planning is easier … and ultimately doable.
Are you up to it? Because my favorite definition of “denial” is the anagram Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying (and then I like to add “to myself”).
Leave Your Comments About Diet and Delusions Below
What do you think is healthy eating? Do you tend to have stinkin’ thinkin’ thoughts about food? What are they?