The Atlantic Monthly recently published an article entitled “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing (Why the science of healthy eating appears confusing—but isn’t).” The author makes the point that media businesses, in their quest for audience, have incentives to depict never-ending new revelations and controversies in nutrition.
Granted, there are some fundamental reasons why “definitive” nutrition science remains elusive. And there are legitimate different points of view on some nutrition questions. Like the prominence of carbs in your diet or whether certain fats are good or bad for you.
So I don’t advocate ignoring the topic of nutrition entirely, man. But at the same time, I want to do my part to reinforce this truth:
There are a few clear Nutrition Do’s and Don’ts you should follow starting with your next meal, man. Don’t let uncertainties or controversies elsewhere in Nutrition Land interfere with that.
NUTRITION “NORTH STARS” — VERY SIMPLE DO’S + DON’TS
Since the early 2000’s, I’ve had an increasing degree of personal focus on tracking nutrition science for weight management and athletic performance. Over that time, I must have read more than a thousand articles and a not-small number of books.
Putting aside a few wacky/gimmicky things (like the Hollywood Cookie Diet), no serious information I’ve seen in the last ten years advocates eating:
- Processed white flour (there are varying degrees of religion in excluding this, but no one says it’s good for you)
- Processed sugar, in its many forms (now being recognized as an addictive form of, almost literally, poison)
- Packaged foods with preservatives
- An extremely carb-intensive diet (no matter how high-quality the carbs may be, you want them in good proportion to protein and fats in your diet)
On the other side of the coin, there’s no real controversy at all that these things should be core to your diet:
- Lean proteins (from animal or vegetable sources)
- Healthy fats (from things like avocados and nuts & seeds)
- Dietary fiber (from healthy grains – especially oats! – and fruits and vegetables)
Surprisingly, eating sufficient vegetables and fruits is not 100% controversy free because of the extreme-low-carb school of thought. Everyone needs to figure out what works for their own body. And how much they’re willing to be dependent on vitamin supplements for things they don’t get from a natural diet. My own belief is that for the vast majority of us, smart/moderate carb intake – from healthy gains as well as copious fruits and vegetables – is the way to go.
Here’s a deeper look at a simple, sustainable, non-“diet” nutrition plan.
So often with things related to fitness and nutrition, we know 90+% of what we need to do. But there’s a gap between knowing and doing, for various reasons.
In the case of nutrition, there’s a hazard in letting media coverage of “ever-changing” or “controversial” nutrition science subconsciously justify what our inner 8-year-old wants to keep eating.
But if you’re past 40 and doubling down on body-and-soul health, it’s time to look past these distractions. Adopt some core guiding Do’s and Don’ts. By all means, keep tinkering around the edges after that. Keep learning. But take a few big steps toward 90% of what you need for good nutrition now, brother.
As Omar Bradley, WWII hero and America’s first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said: “Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
“Once I rose above the noise and confusion. Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion.” (Kansas, Carry on My Wayward Son – click to listen)
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