Nutrition is defined as the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good Nutrition then is an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity (a cornerstone of health). – The World Health Organization
There are so many factors that go into our health and weight beyond just food. However, many of us continue to hold out hope that the next fad diet or super food will be the “magic bullet.” With food and supplement labels hyping exaggerated claims and the media or popular public figures promoting their favorite products, it makes it easy to mistakenly believe their product really is superior.
Through the years we have sought after many foods, beverages and supplements that have claimed to reduce our weight or make us healthier by simply consuming them. Maybe you recall hearing about the superpowers of acai berries, pomegranate juice, chia seeds, green coffee beans or juicing. While at other times we quickly drop whole food groups as if they were the cause of all human ills – you may have heard something about eating gluten-free, low carb or carb-free, or the Paleo diet, just to name a few of the most recent examples. With magazines, talk shows and all our friends talking about the newest trend in diet history it is easy to get caught up in the misinformation that gets around. You may have even tried one or more of them for yourself.
As a registered dietitian it is interesting to keep up with the ever changing trends. On the other hand, it is frustrating to see so many people continue to be bamboozled by label claims and marketing hype – believing that health may really come in a bottle, while ignoring the bigger picture of their health and lifestyle behaviors.
Food is just a single factor in our health and weight. There are so many others:
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you under a lot of stress? Do you smoke? Do you exercise regularly? Do you take drugs? Do you have a family history of certain diseases? Do you get regular medical checkups and preventive dental care? Do you take time for yourself and your family? Are you happy most of the time?
Foods, supplements and diets may offer a quick fix. However, to maintain health throughout life it is important to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors and not rely on overnight cures. So, instead of solely focusing on food or supplements to improve your health, step back and think about the whole picture. And next time you hear a claim for a “magic bullet,” evaluate appropriately, even if your favorite TV doctor said you didn’t have to.
Take Away Message: Instead of narrowing your focus to one or two foods or becoming fixated on certain labels, think about the big picture. Evaluate your family’s meals over the course of a week along with other aspects of your lives — exercise, activity and stress levels. One food won’t make or break your health.
If you want to learn more about achieving a healthy balanced lifestyle for yourself, your family or your patients check out these resources: