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Are We Making Nutrition Too Complicated?

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Have We Made Nutrition Too Complicated? - www.ohlardy.com

Have you noticed that deciding what to eat has gotten really complicated?  Are you confused?  Should you go gluten free? high fat? low carb? Paleo? 

Everywhere I look, people are getting conflicting advice about food and it is driving me crazy!  Is it driving you crazy?  Are we making nutrition too complicated?

Why should it be so hard to figure out what to eat?  

We live in a world that is screaming at you to:


Drink water!  Don't drink water!  

Eat whole grains!  What? Are you kidding? Grains are full of phytic acid?  You have to soak them first.  Avoid grains.

Eat healthy fats!  No, eat low-fat.  Limit saturated fats.  Even Uncle Sam gives ever-changing advice.  

The Carrot

It has even come down to controversy over eating carrots. Yes, my friends.  We have sunk so low in our nutrition confusion that the poor carrot is now demonized for having too much sugar.  

Yes, you heard me right.  People think carrots are bad for you.  

I keep hearing about the ‘dangers of the carrot'.  I always demo fermented carrots in my fermentation classes and was stunned when someone asked why I would ferment carrots since they ‘have so much sugar'.  WTH???

I really wanted to write a post about the carrot, but found this awesome one instead, The Carrot Train to Crazytown.  She says everything I wanted to say only so much more eloquently.  I encourage you to go check it out!

In the big picture, carrots are not “high in sugar.” Are they higher in sugar than, say, spinach? Sure. Should you eat five bags a day, or mindlessly munch your way through a bag while watching TV? Probably not. We wouldn’t recommend you eat five bags of anything a day, or mindlessly munch on anything, ever. But if you feel like something sweet, w will applaud you for your healthy choice if you grab a carrot. If you want something crunchy to gnaw on while stuck in a work meeting, we’re more than okay if you plow through an entire bag of carrots. If you don’t like vegetables at all, but can somehow manage to choke down a serving of carrots… we’re thrilled, because one vegetable is better than no vegetables.

I mean really…let's all stress about the amount of carrots we are eating?  That is clearly why you have a fat stomach or jiggly thighs or high cholesterol or blood sugar…too many carrots…right.  

Can you imagine screaming at your kid…'no carrots before dinner!  The sugar!!?'  Of course not… What has it come to?!

Eat Real Food

 I like to think of the food I eat and feed my family in simple terms.  We eat ‘real food, food with nourishing ingredients.  We eat vegetables and fruits.  We eat animal products that have been raised as nature intended.  We eat grains in their whole (or minimally processed) forms.  We eat fats that are natural…butter, lard, olive oil…all from quality sources.

We limit ‘science experiment' food…food that contains chemicals I can't pronounce, colors that are too bright for nature.  

We don't limit food groups.  We don't have any allergies, so are able to do this easily.  We have experimented with eliminating food groups to see if we have reactions to things like dairy, grains, etc. but we don't.  We also don't overeat any one food group either.  

My food beliefs have been shaped by many people:

Michael Pollan – “Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not a lot.”

Robyn Obrien – “Are we allergic to food or what has been done to it?”

Bloggers such as Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food, Vani from Food Babe, Jenny from Nourished Kitchen, Emily from Butter Believer, Kelly from Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Lindsey from Homemade Mommy

 And, my good friend and sorority sister from Duke, Ashley Koff, RD, an internationally acclaimed registered dietician, is helping to make eating for optimal health less confusing!

I came across this video in my Facebook feed recently and had to share with you.  I love her concept of ‘qualitarian‘…eat quality food, have appropriate quantity, balance the types of food and eat fairly frequently.  

Watch this video to learn about her 4 pillars of her Qualitarian Nutrition Plan:

What are your thoughts? Are you confused about what to eat? What not to eat?  What type of dietary lifestyle are you following?

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  1. Thank you for writing this article! I currently follow the autoimmune protocol (paleo) to help deal with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and chronic widespread muscle pain. While it is a very “complicated” diet, it has made a world of difference to my quality of life.

    For those of us with autoimmune diseases or other health issues, something as incongruous as phytic acid in grains or alkaloids in nightshade vegetables can have a profound impact on our health and well-being. I think it is important to be aware of these things so that if you are experiencing issues, you have the knowledge to take steps to figure out what the problem could be. Is it complicated? Unfortunately, yes. But it can mean the difference between being able to get out of bed in the morning or not.

    I think the one thing that is too often overlooked when discussing diet and nutrition is that everyone is different and interacts with individual foods differently. Just because one person can’t handle lactose or casein and another can does not make either one “right” or “wrong”, just different. You mention that your family doesn’t have issues with dairy, and that’s great! If I have even the smallest amount of milk, I’m in bed with severe abdominal pain for the rest of the day. If my husband eats too much dairy, he gets so congested you would think he had a head cold, but he can get away with a treat every now and then. I think people need to find what works for them, individually, and listen to what their body needs (or doesn’t need) rather than ascribing to one particular school of thought.

    But every path to health starts with eating real food!

  2. I love this article! I’ve been feeling this way lately about health myself. I went on a Paleo diet for about 3 weeks, thinking it will help me lose some weight. I ended up GAINING 10 lb!! I dropped that diet! Now I stick with whole foods and grains that are properly prepared, never felt better 🙂

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