Nutrition facts can be very seductive. Many of us believe that if we somehow knew all the nutrition information that there is to know, then we’d have access to eternal life, perfect health, and a really hot body. I’m quite a nutrition groupie when it comes to learning about the latest info, the current research, the hot supplements or the newest diets. The amount of nutrition books I’ve read, sold to used bookstores or never received back from friends who borrowed them could fill up an Amazon warehouse. I love nutrition facts. And at some point, being a bit of a realist, I started to question the nature of such facts. Where do they come from? Who certifies them? And do they pass by a committee of really smart guys with white beards and white coats?

I also started to question the fascinating phenomenon of intelligent and charismatic nutrition experts – be they a Harvard doctor, a super smart dietitian, a raw food guru, or a scientifically sophisticated vegan – all touting the right way to eat, all hitting us hard with research and facts to back up their diet, and all saying something very different from one another.

Facts are funny things. When they prove our beliefs, we love them. When they go counter to our most sacred commandments, we tend to become cranky and combative and ready for a moral crusade. If you work in the nutrition or health or food fields, or if you simply have an interest in these, it’s imperative, I believe, to grapple with this important nutrition fact:

Most nutrition facts have a very short shelf life.

There are very few tried and true and eternal nutrition facts.

In the old days of clinical nutrition, meat was considered the king of foods. Not anymore. Vegetables were once considered food for paupers and nutritionally bankrupt. Fat was once seen as good for you, then we decided it was bad, and now it’s making a comeback. Oats were once seen as fit for animals alone. Now we put them in energy bars. Supplements, vitamins and herbs were thought of as suitable only for hippies, or yuppies who used to be hippies. Now we have mountains of research on the proven clinical value of so many different nutrients and herbs.

Science is a moving target. Always has been and always will be. We are still growing and evolving in our knowledge of the world. Probability-wise, it’s a bad bet at Las Vegas, and surely a bit arrogant to think we have found the one correct way to eat, or a nutrition fact that is bullet proof. So check in with yourself and ask: How wedded am I to the facts about food that I believe so dearly?  Do I tend to get overly moralistic? Are there other points of view to consider? Does a nutrition guru who has “the answer” easily sway me?”

Yes, facts are important. But like anything else in life, too much is too much. If you’re suffering from a “high fact diet,” then it may be time to let go a bit and breathe. Notice others around you. Does the certainty they carry around their nutrition philosophy truly serve them? Does it serve others? Do the facts you hold dear ultimately free you, or limit you?

It may also be helpful to consider where your nutrition knowledge actually comes from. Book knowledge in this realm is surely helpful and necessary. But I would suggest that a list of equally compelling sources of nutrition “facts” should include body wisdom, intuition, personal experience, and the collective wisdom of our stories and traditions.

Nutrition facts are like food. Choose wisely, ruminate over it slowly, and constantly check to see that it’s fresh and not outdated.

Warm regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014


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  • gibson girl

    What a refreshing viewpoint! I frequently latch on to facts that suit my beliefs and habits and have been known to moralize, although I try not to. In moving towards my own health goals, I probably look like an internet junkie. It has been helpful, but I gather a lot of information and consider my sources before I act.

    Thanks for this look at the big picture!

  • Ms Gyan

    Just as a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so too can a “high fact diet”…information overload…for the unwary, or for anyone unable to discriminate and distill the essential from what seems correct. Having experienced the effects of various approaches to nutrition, I have found that some approaches are only suitable for a season…a period of time, and that one approach can be limiting if becomes an obsession, excluding one from the wholeness of life. Yes the psychology of eating is a dimension that is often overlooked. The body needs updated nutrition facts, with an understanding of individual differences, as understood in some traditional approaches, eg Ayurveda wherein the inner self is satiated by nourishing it with foods related to body type, or energy profile. And self love goes a long way to nourishing the body.

    • KarnaN

      Ms Gyan,
      You have hit it right on the mark!
      Brilliant way of understanding.
      Thank you!
      Warm regards,

  • joe Grosso

    I have mentioned this before to you, I listen to your 2006 IIN lecture in my car every day on my way to a client or lecture. I have made back up copies in case a CD gets scratched. I’m sure you can recall in your lecture that you said “there is no perfect diet”, and tell the joke “there is no perfect man or perfect women” It still gets laughs from my students. The perfect diet exists, but it exists for you today. Your age, level of health, your sex, genetics,the time of day the time of season, how much exercise you are getting or not…All of that goes into TODAYS perfect diet .
    The scientific proof I give to my clients my students is take a look at your finger prints. YOU are unique and so is your “TODAY’S” diet
    god bless you marc,
    I have given so much of your nutritional insight and love to help others
    joe grosso

    • KarnaN

      Karna here. Marc asked me to get back to you.
      Thank you for being so loyal to the Institute and for spreading our work in your own way to your students and clients. We are very grateful that you are part of our community!

  • Tammy

    After all the facts , I feel that my instincts make me more aware what is right for me .

  • Michelle

    Thank you for this wonderfully provocative blog! This is so important to keep in mind. We must always listen to our instincts and as you say, ask if what we are doing is serving us or not.
    Once I finish my course work, I intend to study with you. Thank you for specializing in an area that I feel so passionately about.
    Kind regards,
    Michelle VB
    a.k.a The Curly Haired Chica

    • KarnaN

      Yes, we have to stay true to ourselves…always.
      We are very excited for you to come join our tribe and study with us!
      And thank you for your passion in this work.
      Warmest regards,

  • Marc David

    Hi everyone,
    Marc here. I just wanted to personally thank you all for the great feedback and for creating conversation about this article!
    Sending much love and gratitude your way.
    Warmest regards,
    Marc David

  • joe Grosso

    The pleasure is all mine thru your fabulous and insightful community.
    You always make me feel right and “LOVED”
    joe grosso

  • Dear Marc,

    I loved this article and appreciate your perspective. Thank you for saying this out loud!

    I see so much anxiety about the “right” way to eat, what to me seems to be about eating as a pursuit for perfection – as you said so wisely, “access to eternal life, perfect health, and a really hot body.”

    This feels like a subtle form of control – no matter how much it’s couched in “eating this way is so good for you.” If I can just control all the factors, I can control the outcome (i.e. – the hot body, perfect health and eternal life you mentioned.)

    Going through the hardest few years of my life – a time when all the externals – health, the body and more, fell apart – taught me that the intention and motivation of my food choices is more important than how they make me look or even feel. I had to let go of “eat this way in order to guarantee a certain outcome” and find true self love – which for me is, “I eat this way because it is kind and loving towards my sweet, sweet body.”

    Gratefully, Karly

    What has helped me move from control to care

    • Marc David

      Hi Karly,

      We love your “take homes” from this article and how you have described them here in this comment.
      Also, what a way to seek out your deep inner wisdom to find true self love.
      Thank you for your passion and commitment in this work.


      Marc David

  • Nysha

    Brilliance as always!

    I will be quoting you in my upcoming lecture to a group of Moms and Dads at a Preschool. I have loosened my grip on the facts–and now enjoy going with the flow! (Yes even when someone is serving up something I would never in my wildest dreams serve at my house!)

    • KarnaN

      Hi Nysha,
      Thank you for spreading the good word!
      What an effective way to reach out to kids.
      We really appreciate it!
      Karna Nau

  • Flo

    This is a brilliant article!! And so very, very true. For years I bought into many different ‘facts’ about food. It’s only very recently that I’ve quit listening to the so called experts, I’ve stopped following any specific diet, and I’ve started listening to my body. My body does better when I eat good, nutritious food like fruits, veggies, whole grains and meat. I can’t eat too much meat, my body doesn’t like it but I also can’t go completely vegan, again my body doesn’t like it. By listening to my body and eating things that work for me, I am finally feeling good and that is what it’s all about.

    • KarnaN

      Hi Flo,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Sounds like you are truly listening and taking care of yourself – congratulations!
      Warm regards,
      Karna Nau
      Director of Student Relations
      Institute for the Psychology of Eating

  • Zen

    Dear Marc,
    I found your instute 2 days ago and I have just read through all of the blog articles.
    It is delicious to see how life naturally points us towards what matches us.
    From the age of 17 I have been very interested in healthy food, coming from a convenience food household. Since early childhood I disliked my body and over the years I have tried about 5 or 6 different dietary styles. I have never been fat, not even close to that, but I suffer(ed) from a body image issue. And from what you term toxic nutritional beliefs.
    This last last year I have dropped 30 pounds. I travelled coming from an organic, mostly vegetarian diet to vegan raw, to some cooked, to having a great time discovering the cake section at Whole Foods while on a holiday in CA, back to raw, then BED. I now listen to my body’s callings. I’m discovering my internal chatter about food and built trust by knowing that I don’t need to know nutritional details. Before that year I was very frustrated about my body as I had never been so heavy before. Somewhere along the path of this last year, which was a time of inquiry really, I have found the most important factor that kept me holding on to the pounds. It even cost me a miscarriage to understand that it wasn’t time to hide behind a gorgeous baby, but to live my purpose! I will soon launch my holistic “weight loss” program for conscious women and I’m currently learning to let it all in. By that I mean life. Taking steps towards living my purpose which is to spread the enormous love that I have in this warm heart of mine. It thrills me to help people change their life. The program is my first step to serve people outside of my family and circle of friends.
    It’s so good to know that I don’t have to know on an intellectual level. I can finally trust my intuition, I am who I am.
    Thank you for the great work that you do.
    When I finally manage to open the floodgates of financial abundance 😉 I will happily apply for your training program.
    Much love from Germany

    • Marc David

      Hi Zen,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am glad that you have reached a place of self acceptance. There is something very empowering about trusting your body to naturally drive your eating habits. Embracing your body wisdom and eliminating your toxic nutritional beliefs are the first steps to true health. I can imagine that it is liberating to not be bound to counting calories or knowing extensive nutritional details of the newest diet. It is great to hear your positive message. Continue the great work youre doing on personal discovery! We look forward to having you in our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training sometime in the future – it sounds like the program would be a perfect fit for you given what you have shared.

      Warm regards,

  • jennifer

    Thanks for reposting this to facebook MArc.
    I recently switched diets and have been researching rigorously for months and my brain is tired! Overthinking also obscures one’s natural intelligence and insight, so I will wean myself off those podcasts and youtube talks and just let things be! Even for a day or two that should be a help.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      You are so right! Good luck with everything going forward.


  • Davy

    I think everyone can benefit from having a basic understanding of the biochemistry of nutrition. Understanding how your body works, how your body will react biochemically to the things you eat, becomes a crucial foundation in determining how to eat.

    There are some general rules of good health. But this basic biochemical understanding needs to be combined with a conscious and reflective intent to determine what is right for your specific body (even within a specific season, time of day, age, phase of menstrual cycle etc). All the bio hacking (internet research) in the world can’t make up for a lack of consciousness/intent/intuition in listening to your own body’s signals.

    Get back to basic biochem, eat clean, and listen to your body and intuition!

    Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Davy,

      Well put! Thank’s for reaching out to share that with us…


  • It’s not particularly complicated.

    When hungry, and as solid food not liquid, eat the most nutrient dense food per calorie that is available.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Christoph! So glad you have ultimately found what works for you. Many people can feel overwhelmed with all the mixed information out there. Food can be connected to love for some, and can connect to issues around care and support. You might enjoy this IPEtv video here on how food can be connected to love:
      Thanks again for contributing to the discussion! Warmly, Marc

  • Marcy Selesnick Sweet

    I’m with you Marc however it’s difficult to break the cycle (for me) of trying the latest fad diet. It’s overwhelming yes and at times frustrating as he!&. I love to cook. Also I struggle with my relationship with food 🥘. The constant media bombardment of info Is at the very least suggestive if not downright brainwashing. Thanks for letting me share. M

    • Hi Marcy! Thanks for sharing; we completely understand. It’s an ongoing journey with ongoing challenges. Sometimes it’s really useful to take a media fast, and tuck away those diet books, unfollow those diet posts, and disconnect while you work on your personal relationship with food. We wish you all the best and appreciate your reaching out!

      The IPE Team

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.