Thanks for Your Opinions...

I really enjoyed reading what all of you have to say.  I am inspired by your thoughts because these give me hope that there are still people out there on the right track and sticking to a truly healthy lifestyle,  but also understanding the concept of moderation along the way.

Here are my thoughts.

1) Are all sugars bad for you and need to be removed from the diet?  I often hear this stated as simple sugars are bad and should be eliminated.  Is this true?  

There is a big difference between added sugar and natural sugar.  But keep in mind too that natural sugars can be added to foods.  This means natural sugar like honey and agave can still be added to a food to make it sweeter.  Natural sugar is the sugar occurring in the food in it's original form.  This means any carbohydrate (minus undigestible fibers) because during digestion they will be converted to glucose, a sugar, for use as energy within the body.  Fructose and lactose, while simple sugars, are not necessarily bad for you.  Remember, everything in moderation.  If you cut out fruit, you lose fiber too, and tons of vitamins and minerals.  If you cut out milk, you lose good protein, calcium, and the vitamin D and A, which are your added nutrients.  Sugar is not bad, added sugar or exceeding daily needs, that is what is bad for you.  By stating sugar or simple sugars are bad and need to be eliminated, this is false because it is an overgeneralization.  It is not clear and the category of sugar is just too broad.  This confuses nutrition students and others because of the lack of knowledge to the science and composition of these structures.  In the end, yes, avoid "processed" added sugars.  Oh, and with these added sugars to our foods often comes fat.  This is another thing that makes these foods so unhealthy.  Those fat calories really add up quickly, as do the added sugars, and this makes it a hop, skip and a jump over to obesity.

2) Chemicals in foods are bad?  Any chemical process to food is bad for you? 

In reality, this is not true.  Foods all contain chemicals.  Nutrition is a science and requires a lot of study into chemistry.  Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen...these make up the macronutrients (fat, carbs and protein)  that are in our food.  Vitamins and minerals are all chemicals too.  Again, stating all chemicals in food are bad is an overgeneralization and takes away from the actual science behind nutrition and the human body.  Yes, nutrition is very complex and a lot of people try to simplify this, but in reality, it's a lot of science.  The is a difference between some artificial additive created in a crazy science experiment and those chemicals the body needs.  I do understand what people are saying, but the comments I hear make it clear that there are a lot of people who do not understand the science to nutrition.  That is ok, I don't expect everyone to be a scientist or even a chemist, but they do need to understand not everything from a lab is bad.  Natural items can be recreated in a lab to make them more available for use, and this does not mean it is bad for you.  

The last comment on this would be the complaint of not being able to pronounce ingredients on a food label.  Yes, this is a problem, but this does not mean right away it is bad for you.  It is usually the chemical name, indicating where a chain is located or where a double bond is located on  s structure.  But people get scared when they can't pronounce things.  Even some healthy things are tough to pronounce.  You might notice they give these short little names or acronyms to make them more accepting.  Thing about omega-3s, DHA, and EPA.  These are all listed as good, and while they may not be on an ingredient list, they all are the organic chemistry or science based names, made simple for the public.  For me, it is all about overgeneralizing.  Again, I don't expect everyone to take chemistry or be an expert in organic chemistry, but I do expect that they understand that not everything is bad for them just because it is on a food label.  I agree less ingredients are better, but this does not mean all other foods are bad.  Again, it is all about moderation.

For the last part of this question, I hear people all the time complain about chemically process and their food.  In reality, cooking meats and eggs, heck, really any cooking would be considered a chemical process.  I prefer my eggs scrambled, and I do not think there is a problem with this, but it is a chemical process.  I once read a post, and I wish I could give credit here, it was by a dietitian, and she stated something like she doesn't eat anything made in a lab.  Guess what, my kitchen is my lab, my cooking is all an experiment.  For some of the foods out their, they do this on a bigger scale than I do at home.  Not all food made in a "lab" is bad for you.  Overly processed items, yes, these are bad, but are they OK in on occasion, probably.  

The best idea is choose a variety of foods and consume them in moderation.  If you can cook all yours foods from scratch, great, but for many people (your average American), this is not possible.  This is where we learn to compromise and do things to promote health rather than be overly critical of someone's choices and tell them everything they do is bad.  Small steps towards a healthy lifestyle.  

In reality, my patients/clients (before of course, I am not actually practicing overseas) are often on a fixed income, already have a chronic disease, work multiple jobs, and are undereducated.  Explaining nutrition science to them is NOT the way to go.  Giving difficult directions is NOT the way to go.  Assuming they will go to a grocery store with expensive products is NOT going to happen, at least not right away.  Assuming they will cook multiple meals a day will only make me look bad.  If I give a patient a goal that will never work for their lifestyle, they will laugh me off and probably not come back for the follow up.  If I do a food recall on a patient and they say they NEVER eat fruits and veggies, am I going to make their goal for the next session to eat 3 servings a day.  No, but maybe 1 serving a day is a good place to start.  To some people, this is not healthy, but to my clients and patients, this is a huge step.  What I am getting at is that we need to look at the big picture, the whole situation, and not just focus on one thing and what works for us (those of us who tend to practice healthier habits).  Lots of small changes will eventually add up to a big change, and we will see results.

I know that there are more questions to be answered, and I intend to do this over the next few days.  I don't want these posts to be too long and start to bore everyone.  Sorry if it seems like I am ranting.  I try to avoid that on my blog, but sometimes, things just build up.  I just want to share my thoughts on these topics which I find are common with nutrition information.  There is still time to go back to my original post, check these out and comment on them.  Check it out HERE


Sook said...

This is a great post, Melinda!

MelissaNibbles said...

Great post and great answers. I think you have to look at a persons diet as a whole and everyone is different. If you're always adding sugar or agave to your coffee and tea, then eating a banana, then eating yoplait yogurt, yeah, you're sugar is going to be high. An easy way is to eliminate one of those things, but I don't think a person should deprive themselves because then they'll just binge.

Lori said...

I didn't get in on the original convo, but enjoy reading different facts, beliefs and opinions when it comes to these topics. It's one of the best things about the blogging world. There are all kinds of definitions of health and healthy eating. Enjoyed reading yours!

Simply Life said...

Thanks for all the great info!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Great post Melinda. I especially liked your answer about chemicals in foods. People freak out when they hear the word "chemical" but if the label said, "all natural chemical" then all of a sudden it would be ok. Like there is REALLY a difference?! People are swayed by the tinniest of words and ideas and concepts. I guess I can understand, as I was once in their shoes too, but it's good that you've posted some of the truths behind these misunderstandings.

Have a great weekend!

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