Monthly Archives: January 2015

Necessary Vs. Evil

I talk with a lot of people who are considering making a diet change who are just plain confused about what is healthy and what is not.  You might think that the wealth of nutrition information available to us – internet, magazines, TV, experts of all kinds – would make it easier to eat healthy, but I think it makes it harder for many people.

One of the reasons is that nutrition information in the media is so confusing.  We hear a different story of the latest must-have food, or the latest nutrition disaster, from each different source.  Perhaps even a well-meaning family member or friend has a strong opinion on the latest “superfood” or dietary “evil”.

The fact is, there is no one food anybody needs to be eating.  Nobody NEEDS dairy or soy or gluten (I plan to address each of these specifically in future posts!). On the other hand, while some individuals don’t tolerate these foods well or experience a negative reaction from these foods, that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of a healthy diet for other people. Foods containing dairy, soy, and wheat contain vital nutrients. You can also get these same vital nutrients from an array of other foods should you choose.  I always encourage and guide individuals in considering their own preferences and the overall balance of their diets.

When I see shameless promotion of a certain food as either evil or completely necessary in the diet, I always wonder who is making a dollar off selling that idea. While health professionals can likely ethically promote a food that they sincerely believe in, I have long felt that the major benefit of being a dietitian who receives no sponsorship money and who sells no products is that I can recommend foods to individuals without any conflict of interest.  The downside of being a dietitian who receives no sponsorship money and who sells no products should be obvious 🙂

When you are evaluating diet and food claims, see if you can sniff out a conflict of interest. Avoid extremes in most cases-  rest assured that your own diet is not toxic if you’re eating dairy, or soy, or gluten, and also that you’re still able to meet your nutrient needs even if you don’t include one or more of them.

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend checking out this video on milk in schools from extremely well-respected researcher and author Yoni Freedhoff.

Do you ever feel confused by good versus bad foods? Do you agree that there’s no one food everyone needs to be eating, or not?