The TB Crew

I was not always diet-conscious to the degree I am today. Back in high school, I had my fair share of not so good habits. Most notably, I had an irrational obsession with Taco Bell. Like an adult might yearn for Friday’s after-work happy hour, my friends and I would look forward to gorging on Nacho-Cheese Chalupa’s after school; so much so, that we even dubbed ourselves the TB crew.

As you might imagine, I was fairly overweight. What’s worse is that I had yet to hit the ever-elusive growth spurt. Eventually, after one too many anxiety-filled pool parties, I decided to kick my unhealthy eating habits. Once I had the will to eat healthy, my dietary instincts led me on my way.

If I had to eat out, I would grab Subway rather than Taco Bell. Instead of grabbing Doritos as my side, I chose an apple. And instead of washing it down with Mountain Dew, I chose water. Soon enough, I had lost 20 pounds and was feeling healthy and confident. I had successfully made good dietary decisions by relying solely on my own judgment, and to be honest, it was easy.

Getting a bit hazy...

Fast-forward to age 22, and times have changed. In an ill-fated attempt to maximize my health, I have started regularly reading diet-related articles online. Instead of achieving enlightenment, I’ve found myself confused. Last night I read that reseveratrol, a compound prevalent in red wine, can fight against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more. With great rejoice, I partook in a night of guiltless, health-bolstering drunkenness, despite my instinct telling me downing a bottle of red wine wasn’t                                        the best idea.

My hangover this morning confirmed that premonition. In a frantic attempt to snap out of my mental fog before work, I grabbed a cup of coffee and browsed today’s online dietary tips. What I found was convenient: 4 cups of coffee a day has been shown to reduce diabetes by 67%! So I proceeded to down 4 cups, and now I am feeling diabetes free…but too wired to be productive.

Granted, these examples are hyperbolic, but they emphasize my point: When did getting healthy get so complicated? It seems like today, each and every food product is being tasked to science, and we are constantly bombarded with the results. Rather than providing peace of mind, all this information is leaving me asking the question: “What can I eat”? In a remarkable turn of the tide, learning to consistently eat healthy is causing me anxiety rather than providing the satisfaction it did in high school.

In learning to deal with the overwhelming amount of dietary information published everyday, the most important thing we can do is trust our instinct. Humans have evolved over hundreds-of-thousands of years, and over that time, we have developed a keen instinct for what foods are good and bad. Before turning to the Internet, we should use these finely tuned instincts.

Additionally, here are three guidelines that have helped me, and may help you, achieve a healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, a stress-free diet:

1. Avoid reading dietary news habitually. Like an ESPN ticker for a sports fanatic, the latest dietary information can be an addiction for a health junkie. Unfortunately, these articles can often raise more questions than they answer. If you have a legitimate dietary concern, by all means, research away. If you don’t, focus your attention elsewhere.

2. If a food makes a health claim on the label, avoid it. Better yet, avoid food with labels altogether! Sunny Delight claims the juice is healthy because it is fortified with Vitamin C…now that is just an insult to my intelligence.

3. Don’t eat the new Nacho Cheese Doritos-shelled tacos at Taco Bell. This one is relatively self-explanatory…

Have additional tips for wading through the mess of dietary information clouding my brain? Have interesting personal stories about eating healthy? Please share!


3 Responses to “What Can I Eat?!” – The Burden of Too Much Health Information

  1. Darlene says:

    I agree. I am fed up with being told what to eat and what not to eat. It changes daily. I don’t listen to it anymore. First years ago we were told to snack on pretzels! So I did and gained weight! Then we were told to go low fat which is a bunch of baloney. Dr. Atkins was the smart one. Eat fat but eat the good kind. It is a low fat diet that kills you. They can never get it right. Don’t even bother listening to it. I tried raspberry ketones and green coffee beans too and got very dizzy from them but lost nothing. I am angry at Dr. Oz for acting like this junk is a miracle when it isn’t. There are no miracles. The only way I lose weight at all is go low carb and exercise, period.

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