In this day and age when so much information about food and nutrition is freely available, suddenly everyone is an expert. Most of the time, people are doling out unsolicited advice. As a nutrition specialist, it often makes me laugh (and sometimes even cringe) to hear some of the myths which are perpetuated. As this constant flow of information tends to be rather conflicting, trying to lead a healthier lifestyle ends up being more overwhelming and challenging than it needs to be. Depending on the degree of the falseness, blindly following nutrition advice can even lead to dangerous results. Since the first step towards achieving your goals effectively is to differentiate the facts from misinterpreted and false claims, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Seek out advice from a professional
Given that the number of self-taught experts is only increasing, take responsibility and question the source's educational background and credentials. Also, make sure that the source is accredited in the topic at hand. For example, a medical doctor might be renowned in his or her field yet lack any formal nutrition education.
Personal stories and testimonials can be convincing, but look for research that goes beyond "This is what worked for me."
2. Ask for evidence
Many claims are based on hearsay rather than real evidence. Before nodding in agreement, ask the source to substantiate his or her claims. Beware of anecdotal nutrition advice which may not be supported by science but instead is based on the personal account of an author of the source. Personal stories and testimonials can be convincing, but look for research that goes beyond "This is what worked for me."
3. Question the study
Before a nutrition claim can be deemed credible, some kind of research needs to be done. If you are presented with evidence, don't accept the results at face value. Stay guarded at ask questions- Who conducted the study? How many people was this claim tested on? How many times was the test run? When was the study conducted? Has any follow-up research been done?
4. Do what works for you
If you've found an eating style that works for you or thrive on certain foods, stick with it. Healthy living is extremely individualized and you are your most reliable guinea pig. Ultimately, no amount of statistics or theoretical knowledge can override actual proof when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle. Only through trial and error can you really establish what the 'best' style of eating consists of.
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