I was out for dinner with friends recently, when the topic about what's "healthy" versus what's not (and how we're supposed to know these things) came up. It got me re-thinking about the nutritional confusion that so many of us face on a regular basis.
On a side note, I was having this discussion with friends from my gym, who are all more or less interested in eating a whole/clean/health-ier diet and who, therefore, would consider themselves fairly knowledgeable about diet and nutrition.
The thing is, even though some of us (yes, myself included) think that we know what's "healthiest," we're just as confused as the next guy about whether it's healthier to consume white or brown rice (truth: this was one of our debates last weekend, and even I'm surprised and confused about the outcome). When someone debunks our school of nutritional thought with contradicting opinions and information, who or what are we to believe? And wait, all this nutrition advice keeps changing?! This, my friends, is the
There is no perfect diet. Everyone needs to shape a diet specific to his or her needs. There is no right way. There is only the right way for you. Just like religion and politics, there are numerous perspectives and approaches to health and nutrition and it's up to you to find what works best for your own personal needs.
We're always going to be confused.
This is a statement that my friend G made the other day when we were talking about diet and nutrition, and I couldn't agree more. Keeping in mind what Gyorgy Scrinis says about nutritionism, and considering the fact that nutrition advice and information is constantly changing, I think G's conclusion is bang on (right now, gluten-free is all the rage, but for how long?). That said, if we're always going to be confused about nutrition, how can we each, as individuals, comply to a single diet even in our own lifetime?
We probably won't.
Think about it. What did you eat as a kid? How does that differ from what you eat today? It's likely that you will have to make some changes to your diet as you get older, too.
I get asked a lot about my "health and nutrition approach" (except people don't call it that, they just ask: "what the hell do you eat if you can't eat sugar?!"). A lot of the time, my answer includes a run down of some of the things I eat, but more importantly, I always make the point to say that like most people, I'm still learning.
Ever since first altering my diet in 2008, I have done back flips and somersaults trying to figure out what works for me and my body, nutritionally. I eliminated processed foods, including grains and sugar. I tried to go without carbohydrates. I even tried the whole low-fat/low-sugar craze, which was probably one of the worst ideas I ever had. Four years later, my diet is still a work-in-progress. Even with a lot more knowledge under my belt (not to mention a clearer perspective on the world of health and nutrition), I'm still trying to determine what works best for me. That said, I do feel that I have a firmer grasp on my health in general and can therefore confidently say that I think I'm headed in the right direction.
I'm currently experimenting with a Paleolithic diet, which is something I've thought about trying in the past but never took seriously until recently, when reading about the benefits of a hunter-gatherer diet (particularly for those suffering from an auto-immune disease) in Jack Challem's The Inflammation Syndrome (2010). After completing my Whole30 - which is essentially a Paleo diet - and feeling indescribably well, I can't think of any other nutrition approach to suit my needs. When following this diet, free from grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and legumes, I feel more well-rested in the morning, more energized throughout the day, satiated at meal time, and tummy troubles? What tummy troubles?
So, for me, this is probably my best, most nutritionally-valuable and healthful choice. At least until something else ("something better") comes along.
And, that's all we can do. Find what works for us now - and get to the bottom of this whole white versus brown rice thing.
What have you been "nutritionally confused" about lately? What are you doing to navigate your way around contradicting nutritional advice and information?
image via google
DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.