Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

Diet and nutrition: we need facts not fights

Talking about diet and nutrition always gets emotional. It's no wonder we always seem to be at war over it. Let's start a calmer conversation.
Lots of healthy food rich in oil and fat

Why do diet and nutrition wind us up so much?

Diet and nutrition are such emotional subjects that it feels as if you’re walking into a war zone if you have an opinion on them.

Have you been hiding under a rock on the moon for 5 years? No?  You’ll know all about the fat vs carbs war debate, then. And about the paleo diet and the blood type diet. And intermittent fasting and all kinds of other diets and regimes.

Some good advice, some bad advice.  A world of hearsay, half-truths and above all polarized and polarizing opinions.

And calling people out on the bad advice, hearsay and half-truths is scary, precisely because opinions are so polarized and polarizing.

Writing about diet and nutrition always feels polarising

I spent 2 years trying to get this blog going properly.  It wasn’t working because I was scared of getting caught between warring factions.

I wanted to leave it to the researchers, the doctors, the nutritionists, the dieticians.  To the tabloid journalists and their rich employers.

And to anyone else who likes to wind us up or calm us down according to their own worldviews.

Everyone has a point of view

Why? Because I do not want responsibility for any decision anyone makes about their health - apart from my own - to weigh on my mind. 

I’m not trying to get out of anything. It’s just not my place, I don’t have the expertise and in particular I don’t know enough about anyone’s personal circumstances (except for my own, of course).

But writing and thinking about selfcare, about wellness, about diet culture means writing and thinking about the highly emotional world of diet and nutrition.  Also, I have an opinion: diet culture affects us negatively and it’s everywhere. I’m not happy about this, and I want you to know it. 

It’s a minefield, though (I might be laying on the war analogy a bit thick, now….)

Why it's complicated

For one thing, there’s the difficulty in pinning down the scientific research and separating it from opinions of authors with axes to grind. 

Then there’s all the politics behind public health advice (is animal fat really so bad for us or is it just the hobby horse of one man who had the ear of the US government back in the day?).  It’s difficult to tell whether doctors are looking at the advice they give about weight and nutrition with any kind of a critical eye - or are they just repeating the party line and hoping to get on to the next patient asap?

In short, an ordinary blogger like me will always struggle with any one of these debates because all sides are so loaded with politics, money, personal opinion and the tendency of writers to misrepresent the focus of the research they’re quoting.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t good, clear research, good professionals and sources of information that really do have our best interests at heart.  Far from it - there are.

But there’s so much noise out there that it can be very difficult to know when you’ve found one.

It can be so hard to know how to build up a good picture of what to do for the best for your body.  And let’s be honest - do you really have the time to essentially carry out an academic survey of all the available data on whether fat is good or bad for you? I don’t, and I read loads of this stuff!

The problem is that if you get it wrong you might be putting your health at risk.

Being mindful and critical

But that can’t stop us from looking at the information in front of us with a critical eye, because we do want to be well and we do want the best quality of life we can get (if you aren’t, then chances are you’re well on the way to depression).

The best we can manage is to be mindful and inquisitive when we consider what we watch and read.

Mindful of how influenced something is by diet culture, for example.  We can also take a good look at the author’s credentials: Are they an academic researcher, a lifestyle journalist, a scientific writer, a doctor, a dietician, a nutritionalist?  The representative of a trade body, maybe - or a civil servant or product manufacturer. Or, increasingly, an individual who is very invested in their own point of view because they think it’s the best one (Banana Girl, anyone?).

I’m not without an opinion, though (is anyone?) and you should know that I’m pretty solidly behind the idea that diet culture is everywhere and that it’s bad for our health.

So you’ll probably be able to pick that out of any article I write here (give it a try! Pick a post and see if you can find the anti-diet culture message).

But I’m still always trying to be mindful that this isn’t a position shared by everyone - and I respect that.

Disclaimer

This post reads like one big fat, giant disclaimer - which it is, to be honest.  I get scared when I start writing about body issues, because I don’t know about all the research going on, I don’t know the current state of medical training on nutrition, I have trouble remembering whether it’s dieticians or nutritionists that have recognised qualifications (and I keep referring to nutritionists as nutritionalists) At the same time, it’s a layout of how difficult it is to get advice on diet and nutrition that will benefit you, not the person dishing out the advice.  

It’s no surprise that I’ve written fewer posts in this section so far than any other.

But I’m still going to try.  The one piece of advice I am comfortable in giving is this: at the end of the day, try not to bet everything on emotional red when you read about diet and nutrition.  Be inquisitive and mindful and try to get a bird’s eye view of the author’s background.

And finally: there are some things you can trust

At the end of the day, it’s not all war and quicksand.  There are some things that are pretty well established everywhere but in the absolute outer fringes (I’ll see you Banana Girl and rise you breatharianism).  Eat vegetables, move daily, drink enough (but not too much as soda or alcohol), don’t smoke and you already have a solid platform.

Especially if you’re lucky enough to get enough sleep.


Kate

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I take your health and wellbeing very seriously, so this comes from the heart - it's not just covering my backside legally: I'm not a mental or physical health professional of any kind, as I stress in my disclaimer. If you have any doubts about the state of your health, please get an appointment with an appropriate professional. Here's to your best possible health!

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A few years ago, I got scared that I won't be able to tie my own shoelaces when I’m 70, so I started to work on my fitness.

All the advice I found made me feel I was on the outside looking in. I needed something a lot more me-centric.

Now I feel I have more control and hope for the future.

I’m sharing what I’ve learned so that you can star in your own fitness story.
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