Nutrition Introduction – I’m taking a class!

Nutrition! What is it? I don’t really know! But I definitely know there’s a lot of pseudoscience out there which makes accurate information difficult to track down. Personally, I haven’t focused much on making sure my diet is nutritionally complete. I like the motto “eat real food, not too much, mostly vegetables,” for keeping a relatively healthy diet. Though that motto can be difficult to follow while I’m in school. Working 20 hours a week, 20 hours of class, commuting, schoolwork, and trying to have a social life on top of all that… doesn’t leave a lot of time for meal prep or grocery shopping, let alone healthy packed lunches or balanced breakfasts.

Vegetables
What I really ought to be eating… (Credit: Joseph Rychetnik / Photo Researchers / Universal Images Group)

But since I’m taking nutrition course now as part of my program (this blog post is part of an assignment for said class), maybe I’ll be able to learn a little bit about balancing my diet in different ways. I’m interested in using nutritional principles to help support a sustainable lifestyle. Animal products contribute to a lot of wasted land and carbon dioxide emissions, so eating less meat, dairy, and eggs is definitely better for the environment. Reducing one’s carbon footprint, one way or another, is pretty much always a good thing, so I take quite an interest in plant-based diets! I’d also like to learn a lot more about how to maintain a well-balanced, nutritionally complete diet while on a strict, student budget. I have a rather sensitive stomach and avoid certain foods because of it (primarily dairy), so it would be nice to learn how to effectively replace the nutrients I would receive from these foods.

Eggs and a selection of dairy produce

The foods my mouth loves, but my stomach hates (Credit: ERIKA CRADDOCK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Universal Images Group)

I’m still not sure whether or not nutritional principles will play a larger role in the culinary industry at large. I suspect chain restaurants, who are required by law to present their nutritional information for customers, will make an effort to make their foods seem like a healthy option, probably by enriching their products with various micronutrients. Small businesses, unless their business model is based off of providing healthy options, will probably not incorporate nutrition into their menus. People want salty, fatty foods and restaurants are happy to provide that, since it’s what turns a profit.

Earlier I mentioned that the field of nutrition has a lot of pseudoscientific claims surrounding it. In my experience, these claims come from people who don’t actually have a degree in nutrition, or other related qualifications. Sometimes the people behind the blogs have a certification, but it’s not from any reputable organization. It’s also pretty easy to tell that the information you’re reading might not be true if you can’t find any sources for what they claim. And usually if something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a lie.

Not to call anyone out, but as an example, the blog Detoxinista is written by an individual whose recipes for detoxing are based on anecdotes and have no scientific evidence provided to support the information presented. On the other hand, if you read an article from Dietitians of Canada, you won’t find any wild claims about particular foods as “superfoods” or “detoxifying”. A list of all staff and their qualifications at Dietitians of Canada is easy to find, and any actual nutritional information stated has a reliable source to back it up.

Lemon tea

Lemon tea has been touted as a “detox” beverage, despite no evidence backing this claim up (Credit: EMMELINE WATKINS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Universal Images Group)

Kind of like searching for essay sources, The CRAP method is useful for determining trustworthy information regarding nutrition. I look for if the information is Current, make sure it is Reliable and has evidence to back it up, see if the author has Authority in the field they are writing about (as in proper qualifications), and lastly, I question the Purpose of the information. Is it trying to sell me something, or convince me wholeheartedly of a certain point of view? Then it’s probably biased.

As I learn more about nutrition, I plan to thoroughly check all resources to make sure I’m only acting on accurate information.

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