DAY 24-

LEARN TO INTERPRET NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Today’s challenge is to learn how to interpret nutritional information.

This is refreshingly however not about learning what calories are on the packaging of your food items. It is more about learning how to sort the extremist nutrition and health advice, from what might actually be able to help you.

Nutrition can be confusing not least of all because there is often conflicting information. Science says a food is bad, and then a decade later they change their mind and it’s a superfood. We demonise fat, and then the next thing you know we have tribes of advocates swearing by adding large scoops of butter to their morning coffee.

Nutritional science is in its infancy. There is seemingly more to learn than has been discovered. It is also important to remember that science is only the observation of what is present. It is by no means fact.

One dilemma we run into are people jumping on research and claiming that something is absolute fact. Words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ around food, render us assigning moral values to what we eat, which consequently has the opposite desired effect so instead of abstaining, we quit our diets and end up binging on the foods that are hailed as evil, addictive, and dangerous.

So stay vigilant of any source that deals with absolutes and tells you what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Yes, there are some common agreed upon truths with regards to human nutrition. We need water. We need an adequate supply of calories to not die. We need vegetables. We need a balance of macro and micronutrients. There are more and even within those listed, the variables are huge and exist across a spectrum.

Dogma is the real danger here. Becoming agnostic in your opinion of food and doing what feels best for you, but is also supported by research, is far more of a prudent approach, than blindly following a source that you have no real idea of its credibility just because it ‘seems’ credible.

Let’s not forget that many, many studies around nutrition are funded by third parties with a vested interest in manipulating the data. Also, many researchers and professionals have invested their lives into the field of nutrition and information that might interrupt their lives work can be shattering to their very carer. Biases exist and they are not necessarily intentionally corrupt, but unless you are carrying out the research yourself, all of your information is at best second hand from research databases, but more than likely thoroughly diluted through the pop-digestible filter of Instagram gurus, magazine/online articles, and the famous “my personal trainer said…” as our ‘reliable sources!’

There is obviously hope. Great research and practitioners exist who constantly pursue objective data, and seek to be scrutinised and are open to defend their claims with only the best evidence prevailing. They might take you a little longer to find, but they do exist. They don’t however have as much marketability as they are seldom selling some wonder solution to all of your problems for a generous fee.

Isn’t that the way?!

The people who usually have the most important work to share are obscured by those others who are able attract as many followers to their ideology because it sounds good and sells well.

You however have the capacity to be your own best guide. Learning to listen to your hunger and fullness cues, cravings, and beyond, while being inquisitive and open to all nutritional schools of thought will help you far more in the long run. Otherwise you will continue to be swayed by the latest fad. Remember that fads come and go, but imagine if you get stuck in the next wave that won’t be dispelled for another 10 years. That’s a long time and is average for myths that prevail in the world of nutrition.

Scarier still, how sure are you that you aren’t presently under the influence of black and white nutritional information that could be undermining your very health?

Food for thought!