Note: A similar version of this article first appeared in the January 2012 issue of Search Parker Magazine
Yesterday my toaster oven caught on fire because one of my daughters put a paper towel over her frozen Amy’s Tofu and Cheese Burrito just like the directions said to do. “Mahhhmmm, my burrito’s on fire!” she screamed. I dashed into the kitchen as she unplugged the appliance from the wall with its contents ablaze. “The directions said to cover the burrito with a paper towel,” she exclaimed while I smothered her burrito. She missed one essential detail – the directions were for microwave cooking, not the toaster oven.
Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know until we learn a hard lesson. Sometimes we miss the most basic details because we don’t know any better. Nutrition is often like this. We think we eat healthily, but we may be missing something, and we don’t even know it. Our bodies didn’t come in a package with directions—and even if it did, many of us never read them! We begin to pay attention to our health when we gain weight, or develop a health condition.
Have you noticed the increased enthusiasm surrounding nutrition information in recent years? With good reason, we are hearing more podcasts and clicking on more nutritional websites. However, with the bombardment of information, we are now overwhelmed and confused with the apparent “contradictions in all this information,” and we begin to turn a deaf ear.
I admit there are a lot of contradictions out there. Food companies vying for our attention know that many are trying to eat healthier, and so make health claims about their product that lack credibility. For instance, there is a chocolate milk campaign touting it as the next best sports drink. First of all, regular milk before a sporting event is inadvisable because it increases mucus production. Who wants phlegm in their throat during a big game or run? When chocolate milk is consumed, the extra sugar can create a sudden blood sugar spike. Stable blood sugar is the goal to avoid the half-time crash. Milk also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps induce sleep—also not advisable for an athlete before or during an athletic event. Milk should be avoided before and during a sporting event.
So you see, nutrition principles gets confusing when companies market their product under an umbrella of words that we as health-conscious consumers bite on to. A little nutrition education from a reliable source can go a long way in teaching us how to incorporate healthy eating habits into our lifestyle. Fad diets come and go, but basic nutrition principles have always provided the foundation of the most effective way of losing weight, preventing disease and treating many ailments.
Many of us are making health resolutions for 2020 that include healthier eating. Eating whole natural foods grown from the ground (vs processed foods) is a great place to begin when working towards eating healthier this 2020.