Nutrition is a huge topic! There are so many thoughts and ideas about nutrition and a lot of times people end up confused because they are getting the wrong information for them.
What does that mean? That means that sometimes the information that you may read giving nutrition advice does not apply to the goal you have set for yourself. Sports nutrition varies greatly from clinical nutrition. Are you looking to heal your gut? Your nutrition concerns will be very different from someone looking to gain muscle or maximize recovery after a workout. Do you have an autoimmune condition? The foods that you may need to avoid to prevent a flare up might not give another person any issue.
When learning how to optimize nutrition for your own body and your own goals, you need to cut through the overload of information available. You can do that by:
1. Considering the source. Does the person who you are getting information from have the same beliefs on food and nutrition as you do? Just because they may not does not mean that what they are telling you is wrong, but it does make it harder to be successful. I work in both the exercise science and nutrition fields and my own beliefs as a holistic practitioner often times do not line up with the beliefs of the fitness world. For example, I believe in health comes from eating a variety of foods from a variety of food groups. Many fitness professionals would disagree and happily recommend eating the same thing day in and day out with minimal variety.
2. Using common sense. "Fruits will make you gain weight." "Bananas should be avoided because they are high in sugar." "Don't eat potatoes if you want to lose weight." Do you think 160 million Americans became obese by consuming too many fruits? Absolutely not. While it is true that fruits and some veggies have a higher sugar content, this is not the added sugars that cause problems with obesity. Bananas might not be the best choice if you have metabolic disease such as diabetes, but that does not mean that your energetic five year old should be avoiding them. Even then, diabetics can consume bananas, but the must be well timed. Are you an endurance athlete? Bananas are a staple for you because of the quick acting sugar and beneficial potassium they contain.
3. Asking a professional. Yes, ask a professional! Look for someone who has credentials within the nutrition field, not just your bestie who lost 20 pounds by following a diet they found on the internet. You should not need to pay for advice or information about a certain food--qualified nutrition professionals love to share and educate! Note: asking for information about a certain food or the benefits of a supplement or herb is different than asking for a free consultation.
4. Remembering your overall goal. Is your goal to lose fat? Is your goal to control inflammation? Are you wanting to gain muscle? Do you want to control bloating issues? Each of these goals have different nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. Someone who is looking to pack on muscle is going to require significantly more protein in their diet, for example, than someone who is working on healing their gut. Even within sports nutrition, if you are pre-season, intra-season or post-season, your dietary needs change. You may need to increase certain foods or limit other foods for a short time, but not necessarily forever.
While there is a significant amount of wrong information regarding nutrition out there (whether it be online or in the latest best-selling book), there are ways to get to the bottom of it all. Doing your own research is a great first step to achieving optimal health.
To Nourish is to Flourish!
Murray, C. J. L., Ng, M., & Mokdad, A. (2018, November 27). The vast majority of American adults are overweight or obese, and weight is a growing problem among US children. Retrieved from http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/vast-majority-american-adults-are-overweight-or-obese-and-weight-growing-problem-among
Smolin, L. A., & Grosvenor, M. B. (2016). Nutrition: science and applications. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.