It seems that 2 am- 3 am is prime thinking time for my brain. There are many nights I lay in bed thinking and throwing ideas back and forth about school, the gym, things to write about, or just “life.” When I get thinking about something there’s no way to shut my brain off. Last night I couldn’t stop thinking about the mass amount of misunderstanding and misinformation there is in this country when it comes to nutrition. Those thoughts were instigated by a conversation I had with a co-worker, who’s doctor had told her that her son needed to start cutting down his calorie intake based upon his size for his age. Alright, I thought, I can get with that, it’s easy for kids to eat more than they need to, okay Doc, I’m trackin’. Then she said that one of the ways he said to cut down on calories was by cutting down on fat. Hmm, that was enough for me, another doctor giving out standard advice issued by the food pyramid and based upon the assumption that fat consumed in the mouth amounts to fat stored in the body. Because she’s a good mom who wants her kids to be better, she listened to her trusted physician and had been following his advice. Unfortunately, what she and many others don’t realize , is that most physicians receive very little nutrition education during medical school. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008 revealed that on average, medical students received about 23.9 contact hours of nutrition instruction. That’s less than the amount of instruction I received on nutrition during my first semester majoring in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness and Health at Purdue. So, essentially, the average physician is taught less about nutrition than a dietetics student after their first semester….would you follow the advice of a dietetics student without question?
But Lauren, you just said we shouldn’t follow the advice of someone with so little nutritional education, why should we listen to you? Well, maybe you shouldn’t, that is for you to decide. Although I have spent a lot of time and energy researching and developing my own beliefs about nutrition based upon the knowledge I’ve gained, that doesn’t make me an expert. There is no one who knows your body more intimately than you. There is no one who can tell you how you feel when you eat or exercise a certain way. This is your body and life and you should feel empowered by that. There are so many resources out there to choose from, sure, some are junk, but there are also gold mines of knowledge to gain from. Blindly following someone’s advice without knowing how they came to that conclusion can be fatal. Don’t be a fatality based upon someone else’s assumption or lack of knowledge.
Although I changed my major from a Bachelor of Science to a Bachelor of Arts, I am still a scientist at heart. I want to know WHY, I want to know HOW, and I want to do the research. I’ve never been one to follow another’s advice until it completely made sense to me, and I would never expect you to do the same. Yes, I share my beliefs, but I try to give both sides so that YOU can develop your own opinion.
Some days I wish I had that “Registered Dietitian” credential next to my name, but most days I’m glad to have to prove myself credible because it makes me a work harder and I usually end up learning more in the process! I changed my major from Dietetics to Education because of a few things.
Looking back, there were a lot of red flags that I should have been more cautious of, but as a young student whom had not done a lot of her own research yet, I didn’t question authority nearly enough. During the first semester we were taught about the food pyramid, but not the old one I had been learning about since 3rd grade, the new one that Purdue helped revise (so it was slightly less destructive to the health of the nation). That semester I took an extra course where people came to share about the healthy products their companies were developing…Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, Proctor and Gamble…you know, those little mom and pop companies. I am not saying Purdue’s Dietetics program is worthless, it has been rated one of the top programs in the nation recently. What I AM saying, is that a credential does not mean we should follow someone’s advice without question or concern. This is your body, be empowered by the fact that you can make it as great as you want it to be, sometimes this means doing your own research and developing your own facts and opinions.
Today I challenge you to go and find one piece of nutrition or fitness material and read it, develop an opinion, maybe you think it’s wrong, that’s okay. Have an opinion, have an idea, when it comes to YOUR body, no one else has more control.