I love nutrition. I love nutrition science. I love reading about nutrition. I love to watch programs on nutrition. I love talking about nutrition. It’s a good thing, because I’m a dietitian. But I have to admit, there are topics that every time they come up I have to take a calming breath before I join the conversation.
1.“The War on obesity”: Every time I hear this it drives me CRAZY! I’ve read it in magazine articles. I’ve heard it as headlines on television programs. I’ve seen it in friends’ facebook posts. And every time I just want to yell STOP STOP STOP!! I am tired of people and the media painting obesity as being the root of all evil. Yes, obesity can be a risk factor for a disease, but weight is not a determination of health. You can be healthy at any weight. When I hear war, I think about fighting something bad. War on drugs….war on poverty…war on crime…I can totally understand this. There is no need for a War on obesity…phrases like this just encourage people to focus on weight rather than health, promote weight discrimination, and make people feel bad about themselves.
2. “Carbs are bad! No fat is bad! No, it’s gluten that’s the problem!” : Newsflash….there is no one nutrient or food ingredient that is responsible for health problems. Yes, if you do have a particular health condition you may need to pay attention to particular nutrients on the advice of your doctor or dietitian. In general though, all nutrients play a role in health. Carbohydrates provide energy to your body and brain, and the foods that provide carbohydrates provide healthy nutrients as well. Fat is important for cell components and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. With regard to gluten, unless you have celiac disease or have been diagnosed by doctor as having gluten sensitivity, there is no reason to avoid gluten. Please stop demonizing particular nutrients. I really hate to see people unnecessarily giving up a food they love.
3. “It is unnatural to drink cow’s milk; humans are the only species to drink the milk of another species!”: We are also the only species that drinks margaritas, but no one seems to be concerned about that. There are better things to fight about than whether your friend does or doesn’t use milk products. If you don’t like milk or don’t agree with drinking it or eating milk products, then don’t buy it. You don’t need to have milk products as part of a healthy diet, just make sure you get nutrients such as Calcium and Vitamins D and B12 from other sources. However, if you enjoy milk products, feel free to include them as part of a healthy diet.
4. “Superfoods!”: There are no foods that will cure your health problems either. Yes they may be full of lovely antioxidants and have healthful nutrients, but the term “Superfoods” is often used as marketing technique to sell products whether it be magazines or food. At a farmers market recently I saw these misshapen blueberries and asked the vendor about them. He explained they were haskap berries and that they were a superfood. Did I buy them? Sure I did…not because they were being promoted as a superfood but because I’d never heard of them before, and I love berries. Don’t get me wrong…there are some very nutritious food out there that is being promoted as superfoods and if it is encouraging you to try new foods and increase the variety in your diet, that’s great. But remember, no one food is going to turn your health around. If you’re eating 90% crap, those haskap berries are not going to be a magic bullet of health.
5. “Clean eating”: Is it no processed foods? Is it organic foods only? Is it vegetarian? Is it juicing? There is no real definition of clean eating. It can mean different things to different people, but it doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. If you are simply referring to reducing intake of processed foods, that can be a great step nutritionally. However, if it involves eliminating entire food groups, this could result in nutrient deficiencies.
So there you have it, my 5 pet-peeves.
Now to sit down and watch a fear mongering nutrition documentary… but that’s another post in itself.