Misinformation in the Nutrition World
With a growing interest in personal health, food sourcing and ingredient lists, consumers are being inspired to take their health and nutrition into their own hands. This is fantastic! We are amidst a paradigm shift; it seems people are beginning to question big food business and farming practices.
This interest has sparked an overabundance of information, some beneficial, and some not. The plethora of information available via the internet, TV, advertisements, books, magazines, radio shows, ebooks, and from health “gurus” has made it all too easy to self-diagnose and proclaim expertise because of something read on some blog. This is when nutrition misinformation can become particularly wide-spread and damaging.
Personal experience is not the same as a formal education, which is based on science and quality research. All too often, I see blogs, articles and ebooks written by people claiming to be nutrition experts, even though they have little to no scientific background. This illustrates the anecdotal “this worked for me, so it will work for you” mentality.
This is how fad diets gain notoriety. The wildly popular and profitable Atkins Diet is just one example of a business venture shrouded with a veil of artificial perfect health. It didn’t take long to realize the harm this sort of diet caused and suddenly it was swept under the rug. For this reason, I encourage all of you to approach any health claim with a critical eye.
Just because someone else wrote something based on their experience does not make them instantly qualified. We tend to suppress our inquisitive and critical nature when we read these articles because we simply assume the author knows more than us.
A personal health epiphany is better used to inspire and encourage further education, research, and analysis.
About 12-13 years ago, I was diagnosed with severe GERD (acid reflux). My stomach lining and esophagus were so eroded and scarred that the simple pleasure of eating was gone. I suffered the onset of hyperthyroid problems and an overall decline in health. After several medications and a clinical trial, my gastroenterologist suggested a dietary change. Of course! After doing a month-long elimination diet, we were able to determine what did and didn’t work for me. Ultimately, we found that my body struggled with digesting dairy products and protein derived from meat products. I now eat dairy in moderation, eggs daily, but avoid meat (including fish and poultry).
Instead of preaching a meat-free-diet-for-all, like many other nutrition “experts” I have seen, I chose to use my experience as a spring-board to continue my research and formal education. In fact, I do not even promote vegetarianism and veganism. It works for some people and doesn’t work for others. I prefer to avoid the camps, where one corner believes we are all designed to eat meat, whereas the other claims we were never meant to. This sort of reductionist thinking and rationalizing does not have a place in the nutrition and food healing world. Despite what some health experts and professionals want you to believe, there is no blanket, one-size-fits-all dietary formula for mankind.
You might wonder, then, why many of my recipes and posts are tagged with words like “vegetarian,” “vegan,” “paleo, “gluten free,” etc. Well, the audience I hope to reach will most likely be searching for these types of words. I would love for people who are seeking specific diets or “rules” to stumble upon my site and perhaps be able to view food and nutrition from a different perspective. It’s a work in progress.
I used my experience with healing as inspiration to learn as much as I could about nutrition and how it can help others. In addition to my BA in Psychology, I hold a professional certification from Texas A&M in Nutrition for Optimal Health, Wellness, and Sports, endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. I am currently earning my MS in Holistic Nutrition from the respected, recognized and accredited American College of Healthcare Sciences (projected graduation is January 2016). In addition to these studies, I have considered natural chef training and taking courses through the continuing education programs at Harvard and Cornell. By early 2016, I plan to take my board examinations to become a certified nutritionist and will continue to build upon my education. My point is that I used my experience to dig deeper, not to spew and preach.
When writing articles for SoulBeet, I do my best to provide peer-reviewed references and I encourage you to actually read the studies or books. From a progressive and holistic nutrition stand point, I will say that lack of research does not mean a lack of efficacy. Something may very well work but there simply hasn’t been any research to back it up! Again, critical thinking (and a little common sense-there is no fountain of youth).
The Future of SoulBeet
This brings me to defining the direction of SoulBeel for 2015. This is going to be an exciting year! As I complete my degree and become certified, my plans for SoulBeet will become more fully realized. Once I have my official certification, I plan to expand SoulBeet- but you will just have to wait and see for that! Out of respect for my clients and for the integrity of my services, I feel it is not ethical to claim the title of a nutrition expert or professional until I have completed my degree. Stay tuned!
Photo credit: Todd Quackenbush0