My thoughts on food fads, nutrition trends, and diet culture.
I’ve had something weighing on me for a few months now, and I’ve decided to share it with you.
I am a dietitian, and I love nutrition. It’s fascinating to me. I learn something new everyday, and I love being able to help people improve their health. But this thing that I love is also the very thing that has got me down. Like many other things in our society, food and nutrition has become a divisive issue. Everyone has an opinion about everything. It’s become polarized. People are taking more extreme approaches to eating and dieting than ever before.
And being on this side of it – on the professional side – is exhausting.
Society is so full of contradicting information that I can’t even keep up with it anymore. The problem is that even though there is good scientific research out there, there is also a lot of poorly conducted studies that don’t prove anything. Yet the media, food and nutrition companies, and even your neighbor promote it as truth, and we change our eating habits based on questionable science. It is all so confusing. I get it.
I’ve recently started doing some live videos on my Facebook page to offer my followers the ability to ask questions. I’ve left it open to any kind of nutrition question that they may have. And what I’ve noticed is a consistent theme. The same questions are being asked over and over again, and they are the same questions I hear from my clients, co-workers, and friends and relatives on a regular basis. Is this good? Is this bad? What do you think about this diet? And as much as I appreciate them asking me these questions, I’m saddened by them nonetheless. When trying to give an answer to these black and white questions, people are either relieved or frustrated by my gray answers.
Here are some questions that I want you to ponder:
- When did food acquire the ability to be good or bad?
- When did food become something that we eat or avoid based on how it will affect our weight?
- When did opinions about food start tearing people apart instead of bringing them together?
- When did we lose the ability to just eat food because we were hungry and it was available to satisfy that hunger?
As much as I love food and nutrition and all that it is, I’m burned out trying to defend the very thing that was created for us to survive. I’m so confused by the nitpicking and over-analyzing and striving that keeps people bouncing from one nutrition trend to another. When are we going to realize that there is no perfect diet? There is no magical pill or potion that is going to solve all of your health issues or help you lose weight for good. Food is not “good” or “bad”. Food is just food. Can we just let it be what it is? Can we just eat it and not worry about how it’s going to affect our weight? Can we just allow ourselves to enjoy food again?
We all know which foods are more nutritious and which ones are less. Make a decision to eat more of the nutritious foods and eat less of the lesser. It is not that complicated.
My approach to nutrition is a grace-filled one. It is one that doesn’t have any rules or restrictions. I teach to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups and allow your body to guide your portions. Eat for health most of the time, but allow pleasure foods as well. It is that simple.
Now for those of you with medical conditions that require specialized diets, this post is not for you. You may need to eat certain things or avoid certain nutrients to maintain your health. But for those of you whose decisions about food revolve around weight or a desire to obtain perfect health or a perfect body, can I ask you something? And I’m being totally serious. Can you just stop?
Stop worrying about food. Stop worrying about what or when you should be eating. Stop worrying about how a specific food or nutrient is going to affect your weight. Because in the grand scheme of things, none of it really matters. There is not one food, or meal, or even 30-days of perfect eating that is going to make or break your health in the long term.
So, can we just agree to stop obsessing over food and diets and the next fad on the horizon? Can we stop making it the center of our conversations? Can we take food down from the pedestal we put it on and just allow it to be what it is? Food is neither our enemy nor our savior.
This post is not intended to offend anyone or to put anyone down, but to help you think about your beliefs and behaviors surrounding food and to start a conversation about the current state of the diet culture in our society. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.