I'm still surprised with the number of people who are uninformed about health and nutrition. Especially with the rise of obesity and chronic illness facing North Americans today, you would think that more individuals would have a greater concern for their health. From what I've observed, there is still a vast amount of ignorance about the topic of health and nutrition. And even when people think they are informed, they're often just confused.
Whether it's because I'm writing my thesis on nutritional literacy and the idea that the lack of nutritional literacy prevalent in society today is a threat to consumer health, or because I'm recognized by many of my friends and family as leading (or at least trying to lead) a healthy lifestyle--particularly with regards to diet and fitness--I get a ton of questions about what's 'healthy', what's not, what people should be consuming, what kind of exercises they should be doing, why they aren't losing/gaining weight, etc.
Well, I'm no nutritionist. I'm also not a personal trainer. But I do read a lot about either topic and through my own experiences with trainers, nutritionists, and medical professionals, I have obtained a great deal of information (not to mention, it is part of my thesis). Whether or not this information is adequate, though, is up to me (the consumer) to decide. Ahem, and you.
'Nutritional confusion' is a term first developed by sociologist Gyorgy Scrinis and later popularized by scientific writer Michael Pollan. The term describes the state in which consumers find themselves when faced with constant, often contradicting nutritional information. This confusion is dangerous insofar that it perpetuates an ignorance about nutrition. Even for someone who tries to stay informed about health and nutrition, I'm often faced with an uncertainty about a particular food or health product (often because of contradicting information) and have to either do further research to uncover more information about this so-called product and/or make a personal judgement call about whether or not I think this product is worthwhile.
When friends and family ask me about particular foods, diet plans, fitness routines...I always offer my informed opinion, but I also encourage them to research whatever it is on their own or or to seek the help of other individuals well versed in the topic or even professionals who might be able to offer some guidance. Health and nutrition is personal. The ways in which one person conducts his or her life in terms of diet and fitness is not necessarily going to be the same for another person. This is why I think self-education is so important. Individual health and nutrition should start here. Whether through literature or with the help of others, every person must find what works for him or her. You can try different diets (vegetarian, vegan, raw, low-carb, gluten-free, paleo), try different eating routines (several experts recommend six small meals a day to keep your metabolism boosted and your blood sugar levels at bay, but some people do just fine with four meals a day?)...whatever it is, every body is different. Find out what works for you.
Stay tuned for more on this topic, including my take on health and nutrition.