The Healthy “Fad”

(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on May 30th, 2013)

Generally I try to keep my opinion out of my writing and let the facts speak for themselves (I know I don’t always succeed) but today I’m going to throw all that out the window and talk about something that has been bothering me. This is going to be all opinion so hang onto your hats.

Health information is everywhere now and I love this. I’m actively disseminating this information too but it also scares me a little. I look at the way it is being presented and I get very worried. There seem to be two main frames that health information gets stuck in: Fabulous New Diets from magazines and newspapers, or the “Health Experts” talking down to you the consumer and imparting their vast wisdom. Neither of these foster a fertile environment for building a healthy public.

From what I have seen people generally react in one of two ways: they fall into fad dieting quickly lose interest or hope, or they become overwhelmed by information and retreat into their existing eating and lifestyle habits. Both of these are very bad things.

Fad dieters will lose and gain weight quickly which research has suggested is even worse for your health than obesity. As well, many of these fads are not well researched and can be harmful.

Those who retreat are usually withdrawing into habits that are unhealthy and so are not doing themselves any favours.

I think that we need to find a middle ground here. One that brings out the excitement and simplicity of Fad diets but also the solid, factual basis of health experts. I think that this middle ground does exist already but is being lost. There are lots of blogs from great, scientifically minded people who are excited about what they are doing and sharing that knowledge and love of health with the world. I like to think that mine is one of them. It is sites like these which enable us to engage in our health decisions with fully informed opinions without pressure or bias.

It is also important to find people who lead by example. You hear way to many stories of cardiologists who die of heart attacks just walking to get their mail. I would never trust the information presented to me by someone who does not follow their own advice. Either they are incredibly lazy or they don’t believe in what they are saying. Of course, they are human and make mistakes but most of them will write about their mistakes to learn from them and teach us how to avoid or recover from them.

We, as the public, need to take over nutrition reporting in our lives. Go out and find sources who you trust, who are not trying to sell you something or politically motivated. Learn from these people and gather the information around you. They will help you find the health you want and make it much easier than listening to the mainstream media or the health elites.

That’s my two cents worth anyways. Thanks for reading.
Dr. Ben

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