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Nutrition tip of the Week

Mood Eating

Most people eat based on their mood and/or some subjective feelings of hunger. They don't eat based on what their bodies need. Think of it this way: you're about to take a long drive on a stretch of highway with no gas station. Do you fail to stop for gas before you hit the road because you're 'not in the mood?' Of course not. Think of eating in the same way. Eating fuels your metabolic engine. So it's time to start feeling like eating so that you can stop feeling like you're scrawny. by Dr. John Berardi

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The "Great" Nutrition Debates Part 1

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Article By:
Dr John M Berardi, CSCS

While displacement foods (unhealthy foods that fill us up, knocking healthy foods out of our diets) are probably at the root of many of our health and body composition crises, what I call "displacement debates" have also become a real problem in today’s information age.

For example, the average North American barely knows what a carbohydrate, protein, or fat is, yet when they hear well-respected experts at the ADA recommend high carb diets and the highly (though not universally) respected Atkins group recommend low carb diets, they get so confused and frustrated they ultimately do little or nothing proactive to improve their health.

This argument is an example of a displacing debate: an academic argument that pushes the more important problems out of the public discourse. For the average North American, following either the ADA recommendations or the Atkins recommendations would go a long way toward improving their health. But instead of suggesting that people just do something, these groups continue to bicker about who’s right at the expense of an ever-growing obesity rate.

Below I’ve presented six of the interesting displacing debates I’ve heard argued lately. Hopefully by discussing them I can put to rest the idea that these issues are of critical importance to your overall health and body composition. I’d like you to understand that these represent small, fine tuning details which are only relevant to a small percentage of the population, if that. On the whole, these debates do more to confuse and paralyze people than to encourage them to take their health into their own hands.

The Top 6 Displacing Debates

1. Fruit is Bad Now?
We all know fruit provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic index carbohydrates, so it should be no surprise that many experts recommend eating a few servings of fruit each day. Heck, this notion has even been turned into a clich├ęd rhyme:

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

Yet some experts out there actually suggest that fruit might be bad for us! That’s utter nonsense. So, imagine you’re someone with a lifetime of eating habits that are less than optimal (for some of you, it might not be so hard to do) and you’re exposed to this debate. What do you do? Well, nine times out of ten, you figure that if there’s a chance fruit is bad for you, you might as well stay away from it — probably better to reach for a Big Mac instead. After all, it does taste better.

What to do? Eat the damn fruit – but, as with everything else, don’t overeat!

2. Raw? Organic?
Speaking again of fruits (and vegetables), it’s recommended that the average person consume two pieces of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day as a bare minimum. I recommend 10-15 servings per day. Yet most North Americans (athletes included) consume far less than the standard recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables.

However, rather than simply recommend more fruit and veggies (no matter how you can get them, for any fruits and vegetables are better than none), experts spend their time fighting about canned fruits and veggies vs. raw fruits and veggies. And then they fight about raw fruits and veggies vs. organic fruits and veggies! Sure, I agree that raw, organic fruits and vegetables are best since they probably have a higher micronutrient count, but let’s face the facts: any fruits and veggies are better than none!

So again, imagine you’re someone with a lifetime of bad eating habits and you’re exposed to all this bickering. What do you do? Well, you'll probably avoid the fruits and veggies, wait for the experts to finish dueling it out, and reach for a Snickers bar instead.

What to do? Get sufficient fruits and vegetables in your diet before worrying about whether they’re organic or not. Once you’ve done that, worry on.

3. Raw Milk vs. Regular Milk
What about milk? In my opinion, it’s not necessary, doesn’t always "do the body good," and should be minimized in the diet (although I see no need for total elimination unless you’re lactose intolerant).

However, if we could simply get more people to drink milk instead of sugary soda, we’d have less obesity and disease. But instead of focusing on healthy behaviors, experts will bicker on and on about regular milk vs. raw milk. Of course, all this does is serve to draw negative attention to milk and away from the other healthy decisions people could be making.

Sure, if it were possible to get raw milk that was guaranteed aseptic, it would be better than processed, pasteurized milk. But faced with the confusion, what do you, the hypothetical sub-optimal eater, do? Well, nine times out of ten, you avoid both kinds of milk and drink another Coca-Cola instead.

What to do? Limit milk, and drink calorie-free beverages like water and green tea instead.

Part 2 to come...

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