Is nutrition a complex science? Some would answer with a resounding , “Yes!”. How would I answer that question? I’m not sure. Nutrition can be very complex. When we start talking about metabolism, nutrient breakdown, energy production, the Krebs cycle, the thermogenic effect of food, nutrient needs, and so forth, things get complex quickly. But what we’re talking about there is different from what most people think about when it comes to nutrition. Most of the time, the thought of nutrition focuses on fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. We can even throw sodium and fiber into the mix. Normally, we don’t think about what makes up our foods or how food plays a role in our health. We simply eat. We eat foods that taste good, that we are familiar with, that are accessible. When we are hungry, we eat. (We also frequently eat when we’re not hungry but that’s a different story!).
What I don’t like is how nutrition has been turned into this complex monster. Some of this was done intentionally, some not. As we continue to learn more about the relationship of food and how it interacts with our bodies, complexity will continue to be a part of the subject matter. We cannot let the complexity in the science of nutrition impact us in a negative way when it comes to our food choices.
Take the exotic fruit, the Acai Berry. You remember that one, right? It popped onto the scene and people were paying more than $1.50 an ounce for the juice from this berry. Some people are still paying close to that amount now. We can’t get enough of the supplements and so called “super” foods. From TV personalities like, Dr. Oz to Oprah to the Doctors to everyday people like beauticians, personal trainers to friends and family, it seems each one is trying to out do the other by touting the latest and greatest health-promoting item.
This is where the complexity issue really starts to hit. There is no doubt that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation, misunderstanding and confusion associated with nutrition. Marketers of supplement products prey on that confusion. Pseudo-scientific wording with claims of weight loss, improved health, increased energy and metabolism with fat loss and muscle building properties makes it hard to turn away. We will eagerly pay money to try a pill claiming to cure our ills even though it has not gone through any type of rigorous testing. But, we don’t have to jump on the latest “super” food out there. We have easy access to “super” foods everyday, easily found in our local stores or gardens, that will help with weight loss, improve health, increase energy and all those other things advertisers claim their supplements promote.
I have been an advocate for eating more fruits and vegetables for a long time. The fruits and vegetables that grow in our own yards and fields provide us with the nutrients we need to help us get and stay healthy. The difference between those foods and the highly touted “super” foods is that the produce grown in our fields is not exotic sounding or newly discovered. Plus, the food grown in our yards or community is going to be richer in nutrients because it requires less processing and reaches our plates much quicker. The cost of growing foods in your yard is much less than that of the “exotic super food”!
There is no easy button to better health. But, better health does not have to be complex. It does take some planning and commitment. With many of our clients, our first goal is to get them to start adding just one piece of fruit to each meal. If they are dining out, we encourage them to take that fruit with them and eat it as a dessert. Change does not have to be difficult but we must have a plan to make sure we do what we need to do to get healthier. Take time to think about your health. For meal planning ideas, seek help from a Registered Dietitian. Be open to change and allow yourself to try new foods or new cooking techniques. Remember……
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!