Is There Anything New In Nutrition Worth Talking About
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If you have an interest in nutrition and enjoy reading up on the latest information and trends, you’ve likely noticed that there’s a certain blueprint for how things work in the field of food and health. Correct me if you see it differently, but most of the articles or books or blogs on this amazing topic focus on one of the following: the latest super-food, the newest supplement, the next toxic food you should stop eating, or the hot breakthrough diet that will help you lose weight. That’s pretty much the template for what the field of nutrition looks like for the average consumer of information. And for sure, this formula can certainly titillate some brain cells and keep our curiosity piqued – up to a point.

The challenge for me is that about 20 years ago, I started to get a little bored. I wasn’t feeling any nutritional turn-on anymore. How many times could a nutrition guy get excited about the next miracle food, the newest fat burning pill, or the latest evil food? Enough already. We need something more.

The field of nutrition is stuck in an old habit. It keeps repeating itself as if it had a strange case of amnesia. After decades of dieting, we’re still getting plumper. And nutrition-linked diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, digestive disorders, fatigue, mood issues, and attention deficit concerns are skyrocketing. On a deeper level, our relationship with food and body is also at an all time emotional low. Some eye-opening surveys and studies are telling us that 9 out of 10 women dislike and even hate their body, and over 8 out of 10 women are on a diet. And approximately 40% of 9 year old girls claim they are dieting, or have dieted.

It’s time to wake up, smell the coffee or the tea or whatever you may be drinking, and do something different – and for no other reason than what we’ve been doing nutritionally and emotionally clearly isn’t working.

So, in the spirit of being interesting, creative, explorative, and maybe even a bit bombastic, I’d like to offer to you a list of 7 nutritional nuggets worth considering. These are intended as wake-me-ups, concepts that have the chance to get the nutrition world out of its’ perpetual spin cycle and into a place of depth, breadth, and wisdom. I’m interested to know how these land for you:

1. Nutrition Experts Need to be Consumed with a Grain of Salt

We’ve become so reliant on outside advice that we’ve lost the ability to access the wisdom of the greatest nutrition consultant on the planet – you. I love experts, I put myself out there as an expert, and I am happy to see every expert questioned, doubted, challenged, and occasionally spanked. Most experts tend to read their own bodily experience and translate it onto your body. They erroneously believe that if a specific diet works for them, it must therefore work for every human alive. This is as unscientific an approach as one could imagine, yet it masquerades as intelligent. Yes, there are plenty of general nutrition rules that apply to huge subsets of people. But for me, the deeper cut is that nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all business. Indeed, it’s a uniquely stunning field where biology, chemistry, lifestyle, and the inner workings of our psyche converge in a highly specific way for each individual. Most nutrition and health experts binge on power, fame, cash and glamour. They also get high on being the “one expert who is right.” Stop giving your power over to the experts. Give them a hug instead. Start believing in your own wisdom, experience and insights. Use experts as “consultants” – listen to what they have to say, then make choices from your own sense of dignity and authority.

2. Let Go of Your High Fact Diet

I’ve noticed that far too many people are in their heads about what to eat. We’re looking for the perfect diet, the one way to eat that will have us happy and healthy and fabulously chic for the rest of our lives. We also tend to believe that if we only had the correct facts, the right information that’s been carefully guarded by mysteriously smart people who know more than us, then we can be happy. Yes, facts and science and information are beautifully important. And, at the same time as we honor facts, we need to drop out of our worries, our endless search, our constant self doubt, and embrace the wisdom of the body. Listen to your own desires. Listen to what you crave. Experiment. Make mistakes. Get feedback from your body. How do you feel now in relation to what you ate then? Can you notice how a particular food impacts you? Can you sense how a supplement or pill affects you? Can you feel the subtleties of your own body? Can you quiet your mind enough to access the brilliant wisdom of your biology that’s ceaselessly giving you feedback and information about food and health?

3. Stop Worshipping Ancient Systems of Healing and Eating

I have watched too many friends, students, and clients get hooked on traditional systems that are old, wise, often brilliant, well thought out – and not always 100% applicable for humans of this day and age. In particular, many people embrace Ayurveda, Macrobiotics, or the concepts of the Paleolithic diet. Yes, these approaches bring tremendous insight and practical knowledge that we have long forgotten. I’ve benefited greatly from studying and practicing the principles of these diets. At the same time, the over-reliance on these systems often results in an intense fundamentalism, personal and nutritional isolation, and a waste of time in trying to follow in a precise and unwavering manner – principles that may have worked great eons ago, but don’t necessarily translate fully into our world today. Every old and ancient system needs some updating. Macrobiotics is a great example. The principles in this worldview are powerful and far-reaching. The problem is, most people are practice a form of macrobiotics that works fine if you’re from Japan, but not so well let’s say, if you’re a white dude from Mississippi. The challenge is, can you be bold and creative enough to take what truly works from these approaches, and toss out what doesn’t?

4. Do We Really Know What Health Is?

When I first started practicing in NYC about 30 years ago, my high-powered Wall Street clients fascinated me. For one thing, they made gobs of money. How did they get so rich? They were incredibly motivated and educated, and they were all following intense workout and running programs despite long hours at work and a family at home. Many had excellent diets. Yet they all had some type of intense health complaint – digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, and low immunity. What especially caught my attention was that they were all shocked as to why they weren’t “healthy.” The logic was, “I’m doing all these healthy things for myself, so I should certainly look and feel healthy.” We tend to limit health to nutritional, metabolic and exercise factors. And collectively, we haven’t quite made the connection that health is also given by who we are, how we think, what we feel and believe, how we conduct ourselves in the world, how honest we are, how authentic we are, our sense of spiritual connection, the degree of love in our life, of pleasure, rest, play, purpose, and so much more. Health is not just about what you do (diet, exercise) – it’s also about who we are at the deepest place of our being. Can we be daring enough to go there?

5. Your Health Issue Isn’t a Problem – it’s a Solution

Most of us are taught to see our symptoms and diseases and unwanted habits as problems, and as an enemy we must attack and defeat. Clearly, these experiences aren’t much fun, they can ruin a life, so it makes perfect sense to treat our unwanted health issues with any strategy that helps us conquer and crush it. Or does this make perfect sense? Here’s a another view, long held by the ancient Greeks, and taught about as well in the mystic tradition of the Kabbalah: every symptom or disease or unwelcome habit is really a visitation from your guardian angel. It’s a divine intervention, a deep and holy experience designed as a course correction for the soul. However we have been straying from our path, or whatever we need to evolve our character and grow spiritually – our disease provides the framework for that. We’re learning a lesson. Perhaps we’re learning about humility, or patience, or slowing down, or letting go of our usual distractions so we can go within. Perhaps the lessons are very obvious, or maybe their complexity is revealed over time. Whatever the case, once we can hear the message that the symptom is delivering, we then have the best chance of letting that symptom go. Ignore it or fight it, and the dis-ease will tend to grow louder. What would life be like if you saw every health challenge you face as an opportunity to grow and evolve? What if we let go of fighting our illnesses, and simply listen a bit more first? What powerful lessons might they be teaching us?

6. What You Eat is Only Half the Story of Good Nutrition

The other half of the story by the way, is who we are as eaters. Meaning, what we think, feel, believe, our level of stress or relaxation, the amount of pleasure in a meal, our attention to the eating experience, the inner story we are living out, the speed at which we consume our food, the degree to which we feel nourished, the intention with which we choose a food – all of these, and more, powerfully, literally and scientifically impact the metabolism of every meal we eat. The ancients were surely right on this one all important point – that mind and body exist on a continuum, are not separate from one another, and indeed have a powerful energetic influence flowing between them. The new field of Mind Body Nutrition clearly asserts the simple science behind these concepts, but the proof is in your own experience. Can you feel how nutrition is more than just the food you eat? Have you noticed that eating under stress literally diminishes your digestive power? And can you see how the thoughts you think and emotions you feel are constantly bathing your biology in their energetic waves of influence?

7. The Best Nutritional System Always Has a Higher Purpose

Many people follow their healthy diet so they can be healthy. Sounds sensible. Others eat a good diet so they can have oodles of energy, or endurance, or strength, or a slender body. I’d like to suggest that this isn’t always enough. The field of nutrition has become a bit religious. It tells us to follow its’ commandments devoutly, piously, and if indeed we do adhere to our dietary system perfectly, there’s a feeling that we’re somehow good boys and girls – clean, holy, and assured of a place in nutritional heaven. I’m still surprised how so many people are on a “health crusade.” For sure, I love health, I practice it as best I can, and teach about it with a lot of passion. But I’m suggesting that good health and long life is not enough. So what if you live to be a healthy 100 years old – yet you’re a total jerk. The people around you would rather have you dead a long time ago. Health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. Humans need a reason, a purpose for being here, alive, on planet earth. So what if you spend a ton of energy sculpting a skinny body. What else is happening in your life? What’s your skinny body for? What gift are you here to give others? Is your life purpose simply to eat vegetarian, or raw food, or low calorie, or macrobiotic? A healthy body is a grace. Are you willing to use it to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in the world that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy?

It’s a powerful act of self-evolution to question our own assumptions, examine our health strategies, and to put our cherished beliefs under the microscope to see what truly works. The complexity of the field of nutrition and eating psychology makes it both frustrating and fascinating. I believe that if we can have a good tolerance for differing viewpoints, for scientific studies that conflict with one another, and for a multitude of experts who espouse that their way of eating is best – then we are well equipped to smile about the subject of food, and enjoy a good meal – whatever that meal may be.

How has our dramatic exposure to contradictory nutritional information affected your relationship with food?

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

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  • Sheila Viers

    Best article I’ve read ALL YEAR on nutrition.

  • Mary

    I love the idea that people always need a true reason to change their habits-being able to play with grandchildren, connecting with others, being able to walk with friends…things like that.
    And understanding and embracing challenges to better receive the gift of self understanding is a way to walk our path…

  • I always LOVE everything you write – but this article takes the cake (no pun intended!).

  • Hakikah

    Excellent article! As a newbie nutrition practioner, this wraps up how I feel about what I’ve encountered over the last few years. Every point is spot on. Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  • #7 hit me. It’s very, very true. I’ve already read or thought about the other 6, but the thing of being healthy as a means for a higher purpose is a wonderful way to see it. Thank you, Marc, for a great post.

    • Marc David

      Hi Georgina,

      Thank you for your kind words!
      We are so appreciative that this post has had a profound impact on you.

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

    • Dearest Marc, I so enjoyed getting to know you through the entheos summit. This post of yours really stirred something within me. You are very astute! I think we just all need to just “get a life!” We are all on this road to perfection and not one of us has arrived! Please keep up your wonderful work, you are truly a Blessing to many!

      • Hi Karen,
        So happy to hear you found us through our Online Eating Psychology Conference! Glad to “meet” you here – and thank you for your encouraging words.

        Best,
        Marc

  • Thank you for articulating so well my exact thoughts about nutrition (I wish I could say it so well myself)! I especially love your last point. I am a big believer that eating and living healthy should be a means to an end: going for your dreams. You can’t chase your dreams when you feel like crap! But when you are nourishing your being, it fills you up in a way that inspires you to go after those things you’ve always wanted to do. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for your encouraging words.You definitely seem to grasp the important role the body and mind play in fully living your dreams. It doesn’t begin with food and end with the mouth; you’re absolutely right – it’s about being fully embodied in every experience.

      Warmly,

      Marc David

  • Sara Reichling

    Brilliant and articulate article! I especially love the part about getting caught up in the dogma of the ancient systems. As if ancient means it’s inherently better.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Sara –

      So glad to hear this resonated with you. It’s so important that we listen to our inner guidance without the limitations of dogmas, be they new or old.

      Thank you for reading!

      Warm Regards,
      Marc David

  • Angela

    Beautiful. Thank you.

    • Lindsay Young

      Hi Angela –
      This is Lindsay at IPE.
      You’re so welcome!

      Thank you for reading.

  • Melissa

    Best article on health that I have read in a long time! Thank you. A message worth spreading.

    • Hi Melissa –

      So glad you enjoyed it and thanks for spreading the message!

      Warm regards,
      Marc David

  • Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished
    to mention that I have really loved browsing your blog posts.

    In any case I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  • Nina

    Written so eloquently. Life transforming, freeing. You’ve transformed what I feel in my heart into words. Thank you. So grateful to have discovered your website. Nina/South Africa

    • Hello Nina,
      Thank you for the kind words.
      Great to know I have a friend in South Africa!

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • Holly

    Brilliant, Marc! Since I know myself better than anyone else, I am the best position in knowing what I need. Be your own detective! Unfortunately, healthy eating has become too complicated. Also, I love the point you made about symptoms. So glad our body gives us symptoms, which warn us and give us chance to heal our bodies. This article made it into my health notebook. Thanks a million!

    • Hello Holly,
      Glad to hear this one made it into your book – the body is amazing and generous with its wisdom.

      Warmly,
      Marc

  • Nice post! It really is a vicious cycle of trends….

  • Michaela

    I couldn’t agree more and numbers 5 and 6 are my absolute, all-time favourites 🙂 This article made me smile with joy, thank you.

    Michaela (Perth, Western Australia!!)

    • Hi Michaela,
      Thanks for connecting!
      Glad to have the smiles too 🙂

      Best,
      Marc

  • Mitsy

    Beautiful article Marc- # 7 sums up pretty much our existence and service as the key to living and not just for selfish existence.
    Love the lines- “A healthy body is a grace. Are you willing to use it to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in the world that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy”?

    • Hi Mitsy,
      Thank you for connecting –
      I’m so glad you felt this article resonated with your own experience.

      Warmly,
      Marc David

  • Les Serff

    Good morning Marc (well it is morning here in Spain!)

    I have just finished reading your article “Is there anything new in nutrition worth talking about” and it really connects with where I am at vis-a-vis health goals. Although I am not a health expert, I have had an interest in this topic since I was a psychology student from Ireland in San Francisco in the 60s and felt intuitively that what and how we eat must have some important role to play in our sense of well-being. I have all the books, tried lots of ideas, and as I got older and the pounds started to add on, I tried different dietary approaches. I have ended up pretty much on a balanced regime eating probably about 40% each of healthy fats and protein from healthy animals, free range or organic eggs, goat’s cheese, freshly shelled nuts, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil and butter, and and roughly 20% carbohydrates from quality vegetables, sprouts, and some fresh fruit I avoid wheat, and sugars except a spoonful of quality honey in my one cup of coffee each morning.This is working pretty well, with ups and downs of course, but over the long haul, steady success in terms of weight and body measurements. And I have lost cravings which were dictated by my sweet tooth (probably should say sweet teeth). But on the psychological and spiritual side of the equation I am still sort of wandering around a bit in the dark, but optimistic.

    So, in reply to your request for feedback on your article, I have to say that paragraph number seven is the one most relevant to my situation. I cracked up at your lines about living to be a healthy 100 year old but still be a jerk, with everybody around wishing that death had given us an earlier exit from the human stage. In my experience, I find I laugh when I read or hear something that zings in on where I am. At 72 I am in pretty good shape, and getting better and coming out of a five year long high-stress period of my life where the recession left me stressed out working too hard to keep our family business afloat as we faced the challenges of the economic recession. For me and my family at least we are now coming out of the tunnel so I hope that for the rest of my years I will be spiritually growing and able to give more attention to the really important things such as more time for my family, more time for reading and thinking and listening to other people with something interesting to say, and to rediscover my enthusiasm of youth and play more, and even take up again hobbies and things I did when young which I dropped as life got busier. I am now going to get a model airplane kit and build it and fly it with radio control, which is something I dreamed about when a kid but couldn’t afford. I will probably stay involved in our business (restaurant) for the rest of my years as I love that now that we are out of the woods, and I will also return to the area of psychology I was involved in (physiological psychology with a focus on heart rate activity, particularly heart rate variability) and in which Icontinued to take an interest in after I went deaf – my deafness was the reason I changed my career as I didn’t see a lot of opportunity for a deaf psychologist . . .

    Now, finally, all the experiences of my life have brought me to the conviction that we are spiritual beings, in an “earth uniform” going through a kind of spiritual boot camp, a kind of “car wash” for the soul, and so my focus is on that and on progressing spiritually in readiness for the next stage of our existence after graduating from life on earth. The role of food now is for me a way of eating that I hope will enable me to progress spiritually in this life and become a better person to be around, and a source of support for family and friends in finding their own way. The physical benefits of proper eating are “fringe benefits” and although very welcome, they are not the main event.

    I have found that when following a particular eating regime that I was focusing mainly on weight regulation and losing inches and although I got excited to see the feedback (which was somewhat addictive) I realised that when a weight-loss goal was reached, there was a feeling of “now what?” and a sense of loss of that wonderful feel-good factor when the weighing scales or the measuring tape applauded my achievements. So, I realised that the replacement of merely physical goals with spiritual growth was where the emphasis should be.

    Your article adds to that feeling and I found it very encouraging (again, especially paragraph 7 – I’m still smiling).

    I am a bit long-winded (deaf people tend to be like that when we get a chance to have our say) but you can blame yourself ´your excellent article kick-started me. A special thank you for posting your thoughts in writing. I can’t follow videos unless they have sub-titles, so the written word is really helpful.

    Thanks again for such an inspiring article. It hit the nail on the head for me.

    Best wishes and keep up your good work, I think it really is a great contribution.

    Les Serff

    Santa Ponsa
    Islas Baleares, Spain
    lesmserff@fastmail.fm

    • Hi Les,
      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and insight with me about my article – and for sharing some of your life here as well.

      I’m glad to hear that your family business is out of the woods, and that it’s still a place that brings you joy. It so important to find work to do in this world that brings contentment to our days. I find it’s so important to strike a balance between being fully in this life and progressing spiritually – sounds like you’ve found it!

      Thanks again for the connection – so nice to meet you.
      Best Wishes,
      Marc

  • Patrick Ross

    I really like number 6, there is a lot of wisdom behind this idea and it applies for many other situations. I also think believe that eating under stress can actually make you very sick! and gain weight as well. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

    • Hi Patrick –
      Thanks for joining in here and sharing your favorite — stress eating underlies the beginning of metabolic troubles –It’s important for us to be truly present with our bodies when we eat.

      Warm Regards,
      Marc

  • Susan Joy

    Marc…The deeper “peace” you speak to, that runs throughout your piece, is connecting literally to the vibrant energy of life. What appears to us as conflicting and confusing nutritional information oftentimes reflects the confusing and frequently conflicting relationship each of us has with the true nature of who we are as individuals. The vibrational energy of our food, mood, thoughts, beliefs, actions, inactions, feelings, passions, and purpose — all reflect either a deep connection and commitment to Life or our degree of separation from it. Physical health cannot be “carved out” from any other part of who we are. Emotional health cannot be carved out. No part of ourselves can be “carved out” without eventually taking it all. “Ill health” or as you say, “dis-ease”, is our invitation to see, feel, and know how far we have disconnected from our Life force energy with a corresponding, equally strong call to re-connect to the energetic spark within our core essence. To focus on one aspect invites focus on every aspect. LIFE is not about the RULES of what it takes to feel good. It’s about giving ourselves permission to actually FEEL HOW GOOD IT TRULY IS!!!

    Bring It On Baby!!!! Delightfully written and eloquently shared!!!

    • Hi Susan,
      I really enjoy the way you’re describing this process. Thank you for sharing your perspective! There’s some wonderful wisdom here.
      Glad to have you here with us.

      Warmly,
      Marc

      • Susan

        Thank you Marc! I too am glad for the opportunity to connect with you about such wonderful and impactful insights! I have no doubt that we will meet sometime in the future – hopefully soon – and I suspect there will be some phenomenally energetic conversations!!

        In Light,
        Susan

        • Hi Susan
          Thanks for your kind words!

          Marc

  • Thank you for this wonderful post. I have been an RD for more years than I can count. You sum up what so many nutrition professionals lose sight of. Thank you for continually reminding us what is truly important!

    • Hi Jane,
      Thanks for letting me know – so glad to connect with others who get it!

      Best,
      Marc

  • Peter

    Yes I notice the same thing. People are obsessed with different types of fad diets, for example now it’s the paleo diet, but don’t see the forest for the trees. In my opinion any type of diet can work for you, as long as the diet doesn’t become the focus of all things. In my opinion it is actually your lifestyle that has a bigger impact on for example obesity and other things. The newest “evil” thing are carbohydrates. They seem to be replacing fat as the new bogeyman. It is argued that they cause obesity. It is true partially, but the bigger factor here is lifestyle. People just sit around all day, either at work or at home. They do no movement. That’s why the carbs get stored as fat, instead of being used as fuel for the body. In other societies (ones where carbs make a very high percentage of the diet) people are slimmer… gainweightjournal [dot] com/what-are-carbohydrates/

    • Marc David

      Hi Peter,

      Agreed. When your diet becomes your world, important components of life slip away.
      However, lifestyle changes I would argue, are not purely about lack of movement, but also: stress, passion, sense of purpose, a compassionate sense of self, among others – like lack of nutrients and GMOs. These all have a role to play in our issues with weight in this country. But I believe that restricting calories or adjusting macronutrient profiles are rarely the only key in the long run.

      Thanks for joining the conversation here.
      Marc David

  • George Simons

    Hey Marc, Thank you so much for this article. It put into words many thing I’ve been thinking and feeling. After reading a few “all-natural” diet articles and comparing those with the entire entry on nutrition in Wikipedia, I came out asking, well, is this really it? There doesn’t seem to be much to it. Just do what my mom told me: eat whole foods with love. And what my friend often says: listen to your body. I’ve been on a path exploring the way my body lays out for me and it has been really interesting, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am the best nutritional expert in the world for myself! Thanks.

  • Hi George,

    Thanks so much for the feedback! We here at IPE are so happy to hear that you found this post empowering to you on your nutritional journey.

    Sounds like Mom was right! – Marc David

  • Hi Marc,

    This post is so important.

    Your headline caught my attention and I immediately answered, No. Everything seems the same to me and a lot of the information that is shared today is the same story, just a different face or messenger behind the message.

    My dramatic exposure to contradictory nutritional information affected me, and I got very frustrated about which diet was the best. With the help of a health coach, I eventually saw the light and realized that I needed to listen to my body. Since doing that, things have been amazing and it’s like I am now living and doing what I was put here to do.

    Thanks for this article and for all the work that you guys do!
    Evelyn Parham

    • Hi Evelyn, So glad you enjoyed the article and thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story! Amazing to hear that you’re listening to your body and nourishing yourself in a way that will only work for your unique system. You might also enjoy this #IPEtv video on how our mind effects our ability to assimilate a meal as well. Thanks so much again for sharing!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxmYTgUn1d8

  • Thanks so much, Sue! I’m so glad this message resonates with you. Warmly, Marc

About The Author
Marc David
Founder

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.