Knowledge can nourish us. It can open our minds and make us feel empowered. But as with anything we consume, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. If you’ve done any reading in nutrition and health, it probably didn’t take you long to notice that for every expert promoting a revolutionary new diet plan, there’s an equal and opposite expert who swears by a completely different style of eating. They all have scientific studies to back them up, and they all promise that THEIR system will give you health, happiness, and long life. So, when the facts contradict each other, how can we know what to eat? In this practical new video from IPEtv, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, cuts through the confusion with some powerful insights from the field of Mind Body Nutrition and shows you how to tap into a highly reliable source of dietary wisdom: You!
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
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 love learning about the latest info, the current research, the hot supplements or the newest diets. I love nutrition facts. At some point, though, 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 people with white coats?
Who really knows for sure?
I also started to question the fascinating phenomenon of intelligent and charismatic nutrition experts – be they Harvard doctors, super smart dietitians, raw food gurus, or scientifically sophisticated vegans – 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 nutrition facts that are valid for all eternity.
In the old days of clinical nutrition, meat was considered the king of foods. Vegetables were considered nutritionally bankrupt food for paupers. 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 and muffins.
Science is a moving target. It always has been and always will be. We are still growing and evolving in our knowledge of the world. Probability-wise, it’s not a very good bet to think we have found the one correct way to eat, or a nutrition fact that is bulletproof. 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?
Too much of a good thing…may not be that good.
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 the emerging field of Mind Body Nutrition offers a list of equally compelling sources of nutritional information that includes body wisdom, intuition, personal experience, and the collective wisdom of our stories and traditions.
Ultimately, nutrition facts are a lot like food itself. Before adopting a new fact into your daily diet, choose wisely, ruminate over it slowly, and constantly check to see that it’s fresh and not outdated. Tune in to your body’s signals about what feels good, what depletes your energy and what enhances it. And every now and then, consider taking a little vacation from your high fact diet.
I hope this was helpful.