It is pledge week in Cleveland for our local public television stations and I have to say up front that I support both public television and public radio with monetary contributions during this time. I am also very proud of my daughter who is an associate producer in this business. So last night while I was watching one of my favorite programs, “anybody who is a diet expert on”, (you fill in the blank on the cause), and how this particular expert in their field (physician, scientist, personal life coach) etc, has the solution to your weight loss or lifestyle problem; my husband comes in and complains “you know these shows confuse more people than they help”. He is right and he should know because as a family physician, patients ask him all the time about the diet pronouncements they hear on these shows or, The Dr. Oz Show, and magazines at the grocery check out aisle.
Here is a list of what drives me crazy the most:
1) Oversimplifying nutrition to sell books
In the program I watched last night the physician tried to convince me to give up healthy oils and eat the nuts instead because the slower rate of time for digestion helped reduce the amount of fat that would adhere to my body. Using a few scary looking slides of adipose tissue placement in the body I would have been intimidated that this could happen to me if I did not use the instructed plan and thus buy his book.
2) Rigid diet rules… No Sugar, No Soy, No Gluten, etc.
No matter what type of elimination diet is introduced it only works, to determine if there is sensitivity, when you eliminate ONE thing at a time. Usually, people try to eliminate all things in some magic list. Also, too much rigidity often shortens the time of following the program, as frustration or depression increases, upon deprivation of past diet. When you eliminate one thing for about a week, and then try to reintroduce it later with return of symptoms, this then is proof that sensitivity was there in the first place. When you eliminate many things at once you really do not know which item was the culprit? A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you in this process. Of course, if there is a concern for severe allergy or death this is best done under physician supervision.
3) Telling half truths
People are looking hard for good diet information, and in lieu of that often times any information will do. This is when the snake oil salesmen come in to offer enough of the right sounding information to take your hard earned money but offer you no proof or evidence of effectiveness. Just listen to the commercials at odd hours of the day or night and listen carefully to the voice talking at super speed to hear what promises they won’t keep.
What is a consumer to do? Get informed about what groups or agencies protect people from bad science. Get involved with your local political people and tell them you want good laws to protect citizens and to spend money on good scientific research to save lives. I have met too many people lately who do not want to be involved in the political process in any way, or are afraid of science, but the problem is, if you do not educate yourself you will never save yourself and will be constantly taken in by those that mean to take advantage.