4 Damaging Mainstream Nutrition Beliefs

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I often write about the external factors that pose a threat to our health, including (but not limited to) Big Food’s egregious advertising budgets, “healthwashed” and “farmwashed” food products and the litany of questionable chemical additives abundant in our food supply.

This time, however, I’m shining the spotlight inward, taking a look at pervasive, accepted and often times unquestioned concepts, ideas and beliefs within the nutrition field that are harmful because they stifle growth, critical analysis and dialogue.

1) “There is no such thing as junk food/there are no bad foods.”

In very specific contexts (i.e., eating disorder recovery), I understand where this stems from — strip away judgmental labels on food and bring it to its most basic function: nourishment. However, I’m increasingly seeing this message doled out by mainstream nutrition experts as a “takeaway” for the general public.

Let me make something very clear. If a client reports eating a king-size Snickers bar as a snack every day, a response of “Ew, why would you eat that?” is unprofessional, unnecessarily aggressive and in no way helpful. I do not condone belittling as a way to motivate.

However, the ultimate goal of a nutritionist or dietitian is to help people eat better. I am not a “weight loss-itian.” I don’t consider my job done simply because someone loses 10 pounds in two months. After all, weight loss can technically be achieved on an unhealthy diet.

In order to accurately promote health, I can’t equalize the nutritional playing field and say something as disingenuous as “there is no such thing as junk food.” Of course there is. Junk food makes people feel sluggish, tired and generally “not good.” A breakfast of Oreo cookies and soda is a “junk-food breakfast,” period.

Nutrition professionals need to recognize and capitalize on that. Telling someone an Egg McMuffin is not a “bad” choice because it contains protein from the egg and calcium from the cheese doesn’t do anyone any favors. Dietary changes do not happen overnight and often occur gradually, but minimally processed whole foods should always be encouraged.

2) “Moderation!”

To my ears, “Everything in moderation!” is the equivalent of 600 fingernails on a chalkboard, plus the never-ending drip of a leaky faucet. “Moderation” is a meaningless term. Ask 20 different people what it means and you’ll get 20 different responses.

“But that’s the beauty of it — each person can define it themselves!” some say. That doesn’t sound like beauty to me. It sounds like chaos.

“Everything in moderation,” is another way of unnecessarily and inaccurately equalizing all foods. It operates on the inane and utterly insane notion that peaches, Pop-Tarts, muffins, soda, lentils and tomatoes should all be approached the same way.

Three cups of mixed greens as part of a salad are not the same thing as three cups of chocolate pudding. A large Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta should not be consumed with the same frequency as unsweetened green tea. Eating a pint of blueberries in one sitting is very different from eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Nutrition professionals should not act like public relations experts for fast-food companies (not surprisingly, the fast-food industry loves “moderation” because it means their atrocious offerings can “be a part of a balanced diet”), especially at a time when the average American could seriously benefit from eating less fast food. This is not to say someone should be scolded for the occasional indulgence. However, we can not and should not deny that certain foods belong in the “eat always” category, others in the “eat sometimes” category, and others in the “eat rarely, if at all” category.

Some argue that if we do not preach moderation, we are setting the stage for unreachable perfectionism and eating disorders, an argument I find excessively melodramatic. Recommending that people shy away from fast food whenever possible is not about perfection. It’s healthful and helpful advice.

3) “Healthy eater = red flag.”

When I was in school, I recall many of my nutrition textbooks pointing out that vegetarians, vegans and “those who avoid certain food groups” must be warned that if they do not plan their diets adequately, all sorts of nutritional ills could befall them. Meanwhile, the average American on the omnivorous “Standard American Diet” falls short of the recommended intake of fiber and several minerals, including magnesium. Of course, this is not because omnivorous diets are inherently unhealthy, but because the majority of Americans eat highly processed foods with little nutritional value.

The “Vegans must plan their diets adequately or else!” operates under the beyond-elementary assumption that “meat = protein and iron,” and “milk = calcium and vitamin D,” and if you don’t eat either of those two things, well, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Forethought, knowledge and planning are important for all eating patterns.

Similarly, the fact that someone chooses to avoid deep-fried food, soda or candy is not cause for alarm. People who eat healthfully should be encouraged, not told to, “Live a little.”

4) “You have to be realistic.”

This is often brought up by some nutrition professionals to justify their recommendations about making healthful choices at fast-food restaurants (“Just get the small size”). I’ll admit it — I used to think this way when I first started studying nutrition, before I counseled clients. I now see that the most satisfied individuals I have worked with are those who stepped outside their comfort zone. They aren’t interested in learning how they can still go to the drive-through three times a week and making “lower-calorie choices.” They want to truly learn about healthful eating.

We should not feel bad for gently challenging people. That leads me to a rather irritating “straw man” argument I often hear: “Not everyone is going to eat steamed kale and brown rice.” As if the only options available to people were a quadruple Baconator burger from a fast-food chain or a bowl of steamed vegetables.

Similarly, the disturbing fact that it is now “the norm” to nuke dinner in the microwave or get takeout a few times a week does not mean we as health professionals should encourage that as long as portions are small. It has become the norm for Americans to have credit-card debt, but you’d be hard pressed to find a financial advisor who will say, “Eh, $4,000 in credit-card debt is no biggie. Most people have $20,000!”

Our public health situation is so fragile that bland toothless nutrition messaging will not do the trick. The American public deserves helpful and accurate information that can help guide them to health. Let’s be part of a much-needed paradigm shift rather than fall back on outdated and reheated advice that serves little purpose.

By: Andy Bellatti
Source: www.fooducate.com

2013-10-11T11:48:04+00:00

Related Questions

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    Q: First, I want to thank you for your time the other evening. Your information was very informative and helpful. Next, I have a few questions pertaining to the detox and the other services you provide. 1. Will going from a traditional American diet to a raw food diet cause my body to become ill in the beginning or go into "shock" from all the good foods I'll be eating? If so, is there any way to ease in to this plan?

    A: While your body may experience a change as a result of the raw foods diet, you will not experience any adverse symptoms. Our products are 100% all-natural and only enhance your body.

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    Q: What Are Some Natural Sweet Treats (Junk Foods) I can Consume? Under free will you can consume what you like, but healthier products are best. You will find plenty of "healthier" snack, treat, and junk foods at good health food stores such as Whole Foods Market, PCC Natural Food Stores, Erewhon, Trader Joes, Natural Grocers, New Frontiers, etc. Just make sure to abstain from salt, sugar, and other harmful chemicals in the products you buy. We list many companies of alternative foods and products (and their website addresses) in our ALTERNATIVE DIET AND LIFESTYLES MANUAL.

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    FISH IN MODERATION IS OKAY FOR YOU. TO MAINTAIN ALKALINITY, DESPITE THE ACID-FORMING THINGS YOU EAT, JUST MAKE SURE TO EAT AS MANY GREEN FOODS AS POSSIBLE. YOU CAN ALSO TAKE 6 CAPSULES OF ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD TOO! YOU’RE DOING GOOD SO KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS POSITIVE AND ON YOUR DESIRES.

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    IT WILL HAVE TO BE ALL RIGHT. DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO STAY ON THE CLEANSE. JUST GET BACK TO THE FOOD REGIMEN AS SOON AS YOU CAN (RETURNING FROM THE FIELD).

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    Yes, it seems you have enough raw food available to you to complete the cleanse.

    In order to clean local produce, rinse thoroughly with apple cider vinegar to "disinfect" it. If apple cider vinegar is unavailable, just use water.

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    Time is limited here in "Ask the Herbalist" so I humbly request you consider a full length health consultation. However, I can tell you that you'd greatly benefit from a FULL BODY DETOX Cleanse.

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    Q: I recently completed the Full Body Detox, which I loved. Now, 2 months later, I am very interested in the weight release program. Last year, I lost 40 lbs in 8 months, in the most healthy way (good nutrition and exercise). This year, I slowly started gaining weight back, and 1 year later, I continue to gain weight much more quickly. I am still working out regularly, and eating well. Would you recommend the Weight Release Kit? I am looking to take off 20 lbs at the most. Is that realistic for this formula? However, I want to build muscle and strength as well. Can I maintain the results of the program with the directed nutrition plan, and add white meat for protein (chicken, turkey, tuna). I am also wondering if the formulas simply release excess weight, or can I expect to lose inches and lower my body fat percentage? Thanks for your time and dedication to natural health!

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    Glad to hear about your success with the Full Body Detox!

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    You will release weight (waste)! Your weight is nothing but waste!

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    Q: When looking at the Food Combining Chart I was wondering if smoothies are not a violation of all of the "recommendations." If it is suggested that certain items not be combined, how can smoothies actually be "healthy" to our bodies aside from the absolute nutrition they provide? Although I make them all the time, are we not potentially setting ourselves up for trouble? Just wondering. Thanks in advance for your expertise.

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    Hi! Thanks for the question.

    The food combining chart is a suggestion for "optimal" digestion. It suggests we should eat mono meals optimally. This is often impossible and there is no evidence scientifically for this method. I am not sure how it would be studied anyway.

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    Gary Gibson HHC CPT BMI VLCE
    www.theveganeffect.com

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    Q: I am on day 17 of the Full Body Detox. It has been wonderful, although I have slipped up and made some bad food choices I have been able to stick to eating salads and Fruit and nuts. I have lost 5 pounds overall. I have Cogan's Syndrome. I stopped taking my azathioprine, Iron pill, and fish oils while on the Detox. I feel great aside from my Tinnitus in my left ear is ringing tremendously loud. Other than that I feel great. My skin looks so much better. My prednisone steroid hump in my back has gone away. My teeth look whiter. My eyes are whiter. Blemishes are gone. I just don't know what to do after I am done with this detox. I know that I need to continue with this particular diet because it is good to & for me. I can do that, however I just don't want to have low iron, tinnitus, or vertigo spells. What would you recommend I take after the full body cleanse. My mother has seen a difference in me and so has my husband. I love this, I can't wait to see my rheumatologist so he can tell me that my Cogan's Syndrome is in remmission. What should I do next?

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    Thank you for sharing this with us. We're so happy to hear that the cleanse is going well for you. We suggest trying the Ear Oil to help bring relief from tinnitus. You can also try the Joint Aid and the MSM Sulfur to help specifically help address arthritis. If you're experiencing eye issues from Cogan's Syndrome we suggest using the Eye Formula. Continuing with a balanced diet is best as it is responsible for some of the success you were able to achieve with the cleanse. We suggest consuming two raw meals a day and one of your choice to help continue the healing process.

    Please take the time to read the article:

    Arthritis-http://www.dherbs.com/articles/causes-arthritis-34.html

    Product Links:

    MSM Sulfur -http://www.dherbs.com/store/msm-sulfur-p-49.html

    Joint Formula - http://www.dherbs.com/store/f-formula-p-42.html

    Eyes Formula -http://dherbs.com/store/eyes-formula-p-28.html

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    Q: I read the food chart for the FULL BODY DETOX. Is it ok to eat the cream of wheat while detoxing? I'm confused because on the food chart it mentioned alot of different foods, but it tell you the best thing to do is a all raw food diet such as salads and fruit, smoothies... I also plan to do the ANTI-VIRAL CLEANSE AND REGIMEN right after the FULL BODY DETOX and that requires a all raw food diet as well. So that means 2 months of strictly raw foods right? :( Its tough but I am determined too get rid of this hsv1 & hsv 2

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    I suggest you read the article â€WHAT IS RAW FOODS†as it will help you to understand what to eat and what not to eat on the FULL BODY DETOX. Yes, all raw foods for 2 months (to the best of your ability, Beloved). YOU CAN DO IT, BELOVED! Did you read our "GENITAL HERPES" article?

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    Q: I have read about your detox system on your site and others. Here is the product that I am thinking about purchasing: Full Body Detox I have some questions... 1) Is there a diet plan or eating plan that comes with this order? and 2) I have 100 pounds to lose and am thinking about going on the Medifast plan. That is a high (vegetable) protein diet with no fruit and not a lot of vegetables allowed. Would these supplements in the detox plan help my organs that might be taxed a bit on this diet with very little vegetables and no fruit? I am skeptical about #2...I think raw fruits and vegetables are so important inour diets, yet, I do need to drop weight fast. I look forward to any thoughts that you might have.

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    Yes, the Full Body Cleanse comes with a dietary regimen prescribing an all-raw foods diet (fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds). This means no meat, dairy, grains, or processed foods.

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    Q: My question is about hair loss. I am a 45 year old African American female. I started losing my hair about 15 years ago. I specifically remember unusual symptoms before it started to fall out. First, my entire scalp had a burning sensation, and it was very tender to the touch. It was very difficult to brush, comb and wash. Then after that, I am not sure how much longer after, but a dry patch of skin developed toward the back of my head (approximately 1 inch in diameter). I was able to peel it off and pull it through the strains of hair (very weird). That happened a couple of times and not too long after that, my hair started to fall out in large amounts for a fairly long period of time. At the moment I would say that I am mostly bald with hair mostly around the edges. Also I would like to mention that hair started to grow on my chest BUT I started to lose hair in my vaginal area. Sorry if some of this sounds sketchy but it's been 15 years!! I will try to give you a little bit of my history. I am 5'8" and 135lbs. I would say that for the most part, I have been an athlete all my life. My menses were very irregular sometimes and/or absent for long periods of time. When my menses were present, I had very bad cramps and clotting. My menses are now very regular and I hardly have any cramps, my flow is light and very little clotting. I would have to say that it is now a pleasure to have my "period". This also might be a result from switching my diet to a vegetarian diet. I have been a vegetarian for about 16 years. I would say 20% is dairy, but after reading your articles, I am trying my best to become vegan, hopefully even a raw foodist. I also eat tofu. I have never had hair problems growing up. I did get relaxers, but only twice a year. I have had my appendix removed when I was in elementary school. My bowel movements are usually once a day. (I know it needs to be 3.) So anyway, I have been to a couple of medical doctors to no avail, so now I am coming to you. I just received the following products from your company today (10-06-08). I am looking forward to using them. - MSM SULFUR - ELECTRIC GREENS CELL FOOD - COLON FORMULA - HEALING HERBAL TOOTH POWDER - HAIR OIL One last note: I have had maybe one cold in the last 3 years. I can't remember the last time I had the flu. So thank the Lord, my health has been pretty good. Thank you for reading about my situation and hopefully you can shed some light on what is going on with my body.

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    Have you read the 2 health articles on hair ("HAIR PROBLEMS" and "BLACK HAIR, NAPPY HAIR")? If not, please read these articles for remedy and recourse. Also, read our article "SKIN DISORDER = BLOOD DISORDER"."

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    Q: It's been 2 weeks now since, I started eating exclusively raw. I'm even baking whole wheat bread in the sun. This was a great substitute for the cooked rice I used to eat. I'm also eating quite a large amount of grapes (red and white), as my body seems to ask for it. But recently, I noticed that my heart is beating quite strongly, and I find difficulty to bear the hot weather as a consequence. Also, I noticed a white pimple on the tip of my tongue, and this was a confirmation that there was maybe too much stimulating energy in the heart (according to oriental diagnosis of the tongue). When I eat sun baked bread, I automatically feel heat in the body. So I'm wondering if this is a good food to continue with or not. Isn't it more "neutral" (in terms of energy) to include a small portion of cooked brown rice along with the raw regimen? Just want remind you of my health issue: HPV and bacteria in the urinary tract.

    A:

    Greetings! No need to feel helpless. Feeling is very powerful and you will attract more of what you are feeling if you don't control your feeling. Please consider ordering and READING (digesting) our "Mental Science Manual" and "The Love Manual" e-books. If you had sex with the guy who cheated on you, you ignited stored residual feelings from the initial violation of your trust. Forgive yourself (and him) and move on. Okay, as far as the sun baked bread, LISTEN to your body. If you're feeling heat, it's stimulating. Cut back on eating this bread. Go back to a little brown or wild rice (very balancing). Remember to detoxify your body periodically! Full Body Detox and Anti-Viral Formula.

    Product Link:
    Full Body Detox
    Anti-Viral Cleanse and Regimen

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    Q: I am interested in starting the Full Body Detox program. At this time, I would like to know which program is best for me. At current, I have started removing things from my diet as of 2 weeks ago (pork, chicken, red meat, I'm trying with the fish but it's hard!) I am not eating cheese but I still eat yogurt and every now and then I will eat a boiled egg (egg whites). I have removed soda from my diet, no coffee, I drink herbal or green tea, pomegranate juice or orange juice and I drink filtered water (I have a countertop filter that I change every 6 months and the Brita pitcher that I change every 2 months). Along with the supplement, is there an eating plan that you can suggest for me? I am eating more fruits and vegetables, but I would welcome suggestions on certain foods that I can eat while I begin my cleansing.

    A:

    The Full Body Detox kit comes with a prescribed dietary plan and notifies a person what they can and cannot eat during the detox.

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    Q: I read in a health article that Kale may not be the best for people with Gallbladder problems. Is this true, or false? We are taking your Liver and Gallbladder. I works very well. We have started to eat vegan, and raw food diet.

    A:

    Fresh, organic, raw Kale is excellent for the entire body! Eat up and enjoy! Glad you are enjoying our Liver-Gallbladder Formula!

    Article:
    Liver Problems

    Product Links:
    Liver and Gallbladder Formula

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    Q: Good Morning, I heard about you on the Power XM radio Al Sharpton show. I'm 32yrs old I weigh 285lbs and my goal is to loose 125lbs (being realistic). My symptoms and habits are; Bowel movement once a week, headaches, lower backaches, acne, dry skin, eczema, achey joints, asthma and tired all the time! Because of my work schedule and being a single parent I do fast food 2 times a day almost everyday. My oldest daughter is 102lbs 8yrs old - bowel movements maybe twice a week and the youngest 5 yr old has headaches. HELP !!!!!!

    A:

    I strongly suggest you perform the FULL BODY DETOX, followed by the WEIGHT RELEASE CLEANSE AND REGIMEN, followed by the 10-DAY SUPREME COLON CLEANSE. Work on your diet! Eat more raw foods! Start your daughter off with the CHILDREN DETOX (liquid extracts) . Spend some time reading through our articles, Sir! Educate yourself!

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    Q: Do you believe that one should eat 3 meals a day or 6 small meals a day? Sometimes I don't feel like eating 3 meals. Back in the day people would fast longer than 15 days and were healthy.

    A:

    I BELIEVE PEOPLE SHOULD EAT ACCORDING TO THEIR SPECIFIC LIFE STYLES ... THE LESS THE BETTER. FOOD IS KILLING US TODAY!

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    Q: I will be starting a fast for Ramadan in August. What suggestions do you have for cleansing during fasting? I do not eat meat except, fish 1-2 times a week. I've been having problems with gas after eating, even fruits or veggies. I usually have 2-3 bowel movements per day. I am a 56 year old male with good health, except for my problems with gas, varicose veins and leg cramps especially during fasting.

    A:

    Cleanses for Ramadan should be LIQUID-based i.e. Liquid Full Body Detox, or perhaps drinking herbal teas i.e. Detox Tea. To combat or counter your gas (flatulence), start consuming Activated Charcoal (Carbon) 1 teaspoon in a glass of water daily (anytime of the day you feel like it). Work on your colon too. We suggest you try our 10-Day Supreme Colon Cleanse to help this problem of gas.

    Product Links:
    Liquid Full Body Detox
    Activated Charcoal
    10-Day Supreme Colon Cleanser
    Detox Tea