Why we don’t know what to eat and what to do about it

We all have some idea of what we should and shouldn’t be eating. We all try, or have tried at some point, to eat healthy. However, how confident are we answering the question “why do I believe what I eat is what I should be eating?” The fact of the matter is that most of what we “know” just isn’t true at all. Are we all just dumb or is there a reason for our lack of food knowledge?

We don’t know what to eat because nutrition is complex and we’re overloaded with misinformation

Every day we are bombarded with advice on what to eat in order to be healthy. Two of the major contributors to the confusion are governmental institutions with their faulty food pyramids and the media who are oversimplifying research beyond recognition. How many times have we not read “Coffee adds years to your life” just to read the next week “Coffee kills”? Corporate interest is another excellent source for confusion and corporate marketing isn’t exactly driven by sound nutritional advice. If that wasn’t enough, there are also thousands of books out there that diverge more in opinion than George Bush and Buddha. Old and new nutrition research diverges too of course and “facts” from obsolete research papers 50 years ago are still being spoken of as true today.

The truth is that there’re all kinds of information out there and it’s very hard to know what and whom to believe. To make matters worse; nutrition is in fact extremely complex and exactly how what we eat affects us is largely unknown.  No wonder we don’t know what to eat!

Still, most us don’t just lie down and give up on our quest for healthy eating. We try as we want to feel and look the best we can, both now and in the future. Unfortunately, most of us find healthy eating mystifying and consequently many of us choose the faulty “everything in moderation” approach. How can we create clarity in this situation of informational darkness and subsequently make dietary changes that will make a substantial positive impact on our lives now, not only in 10-30 years in the future?

First and foremost we must accept responsibility for our own health and provide ourselves with a fundamental understanding of what we’re meant to eat

I believe the first step is for us to accept responsibility for our own health and well being. No one, maybe except from our moms, will ever care more about our health than we do ourselves. I don’t know about your moms but mine is still calling me up asking “Remember to drink your cod liver oil Bjarte!”.

Having accepted this responsibility and lessened the burden on our already-worrying-too-much moms, I believe that we all need to provide ourselves with a fundamental understanding of what we’re meant to eat. Below, I have outlined three different approaches to achieving this:

  1. Do nothing and hope for the best
  2. Do our own research
  3. Find someone that you trust that has successfully carried out alternative 2 and learn from them

I believe alternative 1) is a more decent alternative than most people think if we’re able to not worry about our health. Staying relaxed and hoping for the best isn’t a bad approach. Having said that, alternative 1) is certainly not the right choice for most of us in my opinion as leaving something as important as our health to chance sounds like risky business to me.

Personally, I chose alternative 2. Since I was 18 I have researched nutrition from a performance/body point of view and I knew, and still know, a bit about nutrition in this context. In 2009, however I started self-experimenting with nutrition from a different angle. I wanted to know how to eat so that I would constantly feel good, have energy, and simultaneously ensure my long term health. Sounds impossible? I promise you, it’s not. The issue with this approach is that it’s very time consuming and frustrating especially for the first few months when trying to identify whom and what to believe.

Today, I would have chosen alternative 3) if I knew someone who could help me on my way. With this blog and through interaction with its readers I aim to provide a foundation which you can use to improve your own health both in the short- and long term. I promise you the following about this blog:

  • My views are based on scientific experiments
  • I strongly believe the knowledge I present and I walk my talk
  • I will present sources to where you can find more detailed information about the topics I will be addressing
  • When I am not sure about what I believe is right I will say so

I am no nutritional expert nor do I know exactly what will be right for every individual. However, I have over the last few years studied the experts in the field and what I’ve learned is the basis for this blog. What I can say is that the people I have already helped have never felt better physically or mentally after changing their diets. This includes me and my girlfriend. To be honest, both of us are still completely flabbergasted by the significant impact changing our own diets have had on how we feel, our energy levels, and our lives in general!

Where do we go from here? I recommend that we start by making the following two simple adjustments:

1) Accept that no one cares more about our health than us

2) Ignore headlines about nutrition in the media and start thinking about what we’re meant to eat from an evolutionary perspective.

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, Theodosius Dobzhansky said. I believe the same to be true in the field of nutrition.

Welcome to Rethinking Truth!

Acknowledgments & sources

In particular I’d like to thank Andreas Eenfeldt and Stephan Guyenet who even though they don’t agree about everything are two individuals I highly respect. Do check out their excellent websites below:

Andreas Eenfeldt: www.dietdoctor.com

Stephan Guyenet: wholehealthsource.blogspot.com

I borrowed the excellent research comedy picture from http://adai.wordpress.com/2007/01/11/todays-random-medical-news/

4 thoughts on “Why we don’t know what to eat and what to do about it

  1. Yuan Qi

    Bjarte, du er flott! Du tar vare på våres helse mens du reiser jorden rundt.

    Vi får så mye informasjon om mat, og hvordan de påvirker vår helse fra media. Noen ganger blir man forvirret fordi sunn mat i dag kan være farlig mat i morgen ifølge “ekspertene”. Derfor synes jeg at det er viktig at vi hører på kroppen selv uten å følge med “trend” der ut.


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