Why Context Matters in Nutrition

How often have you heard nutrition advice that doesn't apply to you? Eat nuts for protein, but you’re allergic. Eat dairy for calcium, but you’re lactose intolerant. Eat fish for omega-3's, but your religion's diet doesn't include fish. Don’t eat white bread, pasta or grains, but you're an athlete who needs fast digesting carbs for optimal performance, or you have a GI condition like Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis in which high fiber foods exacerbate flare ups. . My point? Context matters. I wear several different hats in this field, and each role has a different focus. My “spiel” and nutrition education are never the same. It always depends on the individual or audience. In schools? Aiming for exposure to fruits and vegetables to help kids form healthy habits while meeting their dietary needs for growth, development, and food security. In the inpatient setting? Preventing or treating malnutrition in the acute or chronically ill with high calorie, high protein food, or tube feeding— weight loss is the last thing we want. Or counseling patients on therapeutic diets for conditions like congestive heart failure, diabetes, or gout. A job I’m about to begin entails working with soldiers to research nutrition for optimal warfighter performance. The diets of all of these populations are different. And even within each demographic, everyone has their own needs, biology, and tolerance of foods. Let me debunk the phrase “if I can do it, anyone can do it!” I will repeat til I die that nutrition is not one size fits all. Beware of nutrition myths & take things you hear with a grain of salt. Consider the source, the circumstances, and turn to your RDs for sound advice! Most importantly, look within yourself to focus on what works for you.

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