Diets, Nutrition and Conflicting Advice

One of the things that I’ve noticed while I’ve been on this getting fitter and healthier thing is the amount of conflicting studies and advice out there.

Someone said to me once “well, it’s simple isn’t it? Calories in should be less than calories out. That’s all there is to it”. I don’t remain convinced that’s all there is to it. They say that men burn 2500 calories per day and women 2000. Says who? Based on what? It’s an average – right? So, if you have a slow metabolism (for whatever reason) surely you’ll burn less than that? And if you’re overweight, the chances are that you’ll burn more calories on a daily basis by virtue of the excess pounds.

Then there’s the whole makeup of your diet. I’m not talking about “diet” in the “diet to lose weight” sense but in the sense of the composition of your food intake. There are studies that say:

keep the carbohydrates low, your body will burn more fat
don’t cut your carbs – you need them to function on a daily basis

keep your protein intake high when exercising hard to prevent muscle loss
too much protein is bad for you

drink lots of water and stay hydrated
there is such a thing as over-hydration – make sure you don’t drink too much

keep away from processed foods
keep your sugar intake down (most people actually seem to agree on these two, unless you ask any company which is actively involved in processing foods which contain lots of sugar and other chemicals)

keep away from saturated fat
you need saturated fats in moderation

confusion

And don’t get me started on the fad diets. I gave up on “diets” in my teens when I realised what a pile of crap most of them are. I know that they work for some people but, in my case, until I changed my relationship with food, nothing was going to have an effect in the long term and until I was truly happy with myself and comfortable in my own skin, there was little point in changing the outside of me.diet-

The internet is a wonderful place for research. The only problem is trying to separate the truth from fiction. There are reports of studies for pretty much anything but to get to the truth of those studies, you have to find out who’s been funding them. For instance, would you trust any study that says sugar is good for you if you found out it had been funded by a sugar producing giant? Or a study which “proved” there was no harm from GMO foods if you found out it was funded by one of the agri-giants? (actually I wouldn’t trust any study that said GMO food was good for you but that’s another story).

Grass fed, corn fed, organic, non-GMO, additive free, preservative free : it’s so difficult to make informed choices about what to buy and what to eat.

Nowadays I try to eat as balanced a diet as I can. I try and find ways of incorporating the vegetables that I don’t like into my recipes in a way that gives me the benefit without the taste being obvious.

I avoid processed foods (I’ve noticed they have an adverse effect on my digestion), refined grains and flours (same thing) and my tastebuds are gradually changing so that the things that I used to think were irresistible (like freshly toasted white bread) are no longer so appealing. I do my best to avoid fast food (recent articles on what my previously-favourite burgers consist of was enough to sicken me to the point that I’ll never go near another burger chain) and I continue to try and educate myself with as much impartial advice as I can find. Which isn’t easy.

Chocolate however is a whole other ballgame. That particular addiction of mine is proving one of the most difficult to kick. But I’ll get there. Eventually.

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10 thoughts on “Diets, Nutrition and Conflicting Advice

  1. Your piece is on point! The main reason I started my Facebook page was to get people out of the ‘confused’ state when it comes to fitness and nutrition. We get so much information noawadays, that it is often impossible to grasp the very fundament, which is- find what works for you and stick to it. I always looked at researches and ‘fitness pros’ advise with doubt as there are a lot of random people in this industry. Sadly, most of them are focusing on the profit, not on the wellbeing of people. I am sure you will get there 🙂 X

  2. It really is horrendous isn’t it? Trying to find what works *for me* is still proving difficult so there’s still a lot of reading going on – and I *love* your Facebook page 🙂

  3. Hello…..not love your post…really hit him….I have in for years to all the different duet plans….one will work..I just know it and the wright will melt off….lol. Lol. Lol. Still frigin laughing.. I can’t believe how gulable I was, perhaps worshiping the wrong church, church of diets,…. And the entire time eating willy nilly and knowing better…I do believe that processed, chemical ridden food is bad for anyone….indulgange us just that….a one time in a long time kind of thing…and eat less, move more mentality for me anyway is a way of life….. Only eat what you can pronounce in the ingredients, and quality is a huge part of my new life style…..I have cut way back on the quantity..living less is best. .they say that you only taste the first three bites of the food your eating…after that the shovel it in takes over….as you can see I have finally kicked in the good sense to my life…yeah…and its working….. Oh by the way The closer to real dark chocolate you can get the healthier….my 95 yr old friend ate 97% dark chocolate, 1oz everyday…. It was her happy place….I live carab, have you tried that…..have good night…..

  4. A highly regarded mathmo decided to look at the field of medical research and found that virtually all of it (like 95%) can be dismissed. The science in that area is that flawed. Plus, the poltics of corporate funding create a situation where any info you might read becomes virtually worthless.

    My husband once visited a traditional Chinese medical practitioner for a complaint and the guy said something that made a lot of sense to me. He said: I don’t need to tell you what to do to be healthy; everyone knows this stuff. It is like you say: eat your veggies, eat food prepared with love, exercise, get rest, drink plenty of clean water, enjoy friends or family at mealtimes …. None of this wisdom requires a medical degree.

    Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2005). “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”. PLoS Medicine 2 (8): e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124. PMC 1182327. PMID 16060722.

    1. Sometimes I think it’s easier for us to think we’re doing nothing wrong and look to these studies for some “magic bullet” to cure all our ills. Certainly I took a good hard look at myself 3+ years ago when I started all this to try and get a more informed understanding. The biggest things I learned were as the Chinese medical practitioner advised and although I was relatively well informed about the contents of most foodstuffs, I still had a lot to learn. And still do – mainly about what agrees with me and what doesn’t. Re-educating my palette after years of eating crappy stuff has been (and still is) the hardest part.

      1. I know what you mean! It is a bit like re-learning something that ought to simple: how to eat. For me, it has meant learning to really taste my food and learning to pay attention to what is happening in my body as a response. It has all been so worth it. I think that in this culture we’ve all been too well trained in the idea that shopping can solve every problem — like you say that there might some ‘magic bullet’ out there.

  5. I think you’re right on about conflicting information on online. By the way, thank you for following my blog.

  6. My partner’s been on most of the diets known to humanity and the only thing we’ve found that’s sustainable is ignoring them all and eating in a way that’s both sane and–well, sustainable. All the prescriptive diets were short-term fixes and impossible to stay with.

    1. Yep – that’s one of the things I’ve learned. Everything in moderation. You have to find a way of re-educating yourself and changing your relationship with food if you stand any chance of making long term changes. But I’ll never learn to like broccoli! 😐

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