Today many of us are as confused as ever as to what we should eat, how much we should eat and when.
We are bombarded by mouth-watering television ads tempting us to eat things we may not even be contemplating. We attend office meetings that are accompanied by trays of tantalizing croissants and doughnuts. Restaurants offer the ability to super-size meals and purchase add-ons we may not even need, leaving us with the lingering question – should I?
The cues to eat are everywhere and they are constant. They bribe us to eat when we may not even be hungry and tempt us to eat more than our body often requires. It’s tough enough for the brain to constantly manage food cues, but it also has to wade through a myriad of dietary practices, advice, theories and ideas presented by mainstream nutritionists and even physicians. Foods become defined as “good” and “bad” by the experts. Often times, the delectable desserts we have grown to enjoy, saturated fats and even red meat often land on the naughty list.
The fat phobia and our waistline
In the early 1970s, Dr. Atkins began working towards eliminating the “fat phobia” we have developed in the United States, and recommended embracing fat and protein in his book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. Other notable authors, such as Gary Taubes and Dr. Jason Fung, also explore how the “fat phobia” has affected our food choices and may actually be contributing to an unhealthy society. Some experts may even recommend changing one’s entire eating lifestyle, such as abandoning the consumption of dairy and meat in favor of a vegan or vegetarian diet, as cited in The China Study. With this abundant information, which choices should individuals make about what to eat on a daily basis?
Whose advice should I follow?!
Having been overweight since I was a child and obese as an adolescent, I was at a loss as to what I should do about the food habits I had adopted following in my parents’ footsteps. Which foods should I now eat? Whose advice should I follow? (You can read more about my journey here.)
I certainly was not alone in feeling completely confused as to what I should eat, whether or not I should eat before bed, and what types of foods I should consume or eliminate. There were a myriad of books to choose from, all offering a range of ideas and often conflicting advice. By the time I was 30 years old, I had read all of the mainstream “diet” and nutrition books that had been published. Everyone claimed to have the answer – the food plan that worked. So, why are many of us still overweight?
The pervasive message
The pervasive message has been clear: if you are not able to attain your desired health goal, it was you who had the problem. You were eating too much fat or too much carbohydrate, which, for many of us, may have generated phobias of one macronutrient or the other. In a sense, yes, it is the individual who is responsible for his or her health, but to what degree? I argue that it is difficult to be responsible when the experts cannot even agree on the basics. Not to worry, though, given every facet of science is subject to interpretation.
And that is my next point. It is up to the consumer of information to interpret what they read and hear in order to apply it to their particular needs. That said, distinguishing fact from diverse belief systems can be difficult. Many of us have spent years sorting out mind-numbing data to find the absolutes so you don’t have to.
Discovering the “perfect plan” is best done by guided trial-and-error. Get curious. Begin the adventure you never want to abandon…and don’t look back.
Start by clicking here.