Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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If children are the future we may be in trouble

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After coming across a few teacher resources I’ve started to wonder about what lessons we’re really teaching children in schools.

The first example was actually a list of nutrition curriculum supports for teachers compiled by dietitians. Most of them were great but a few that really stood out to me were ones produced by companies whose m.o. is to sell products, not to educate. I found it concerning that nutrition professionals would consider promoting self-esteem resources from Dove and videos about farming from companies like Kashi to students would be appropriate. Considering the clear lack of media literacy and nutrition literacy in our society, I think it’s vital that as nutrition professionals we do our utmost to promote credible, unbiased (or at least as unbiased as possible) sources of nutrition information to the public and particularly to children and youth.

So, there was that. Then I came across a (US-based) website of “food resources” for teachers with a number of activities featuring candy to teach kids lessons about various subjects such as math and science. For example, we have: gummy bear genetics, gummy worm measurements, the history of marshmallows, math with candies, and chocolate and solvents. Why exactly do we need to use sugary treats to teach children in school? Is this the norm? Is the prevailing perception that children need to be bribed to learn anything in school?

There’s lesson plans on the website including things like “Juice Nutrition 101” which one might reasonably assume would be about the pros and cons of juice. If so, you would be incorrect. It’s actually only about the alleged benefits of juice and was (get this) used with permission from Ocean Spray Cranberries, inc. I shit you not.

What kind of lessons do these sorts of things actually teach children? Not critical thinking, I’m sure. Nor do they teach children accurate unbiased nutrition information. They also normalize and encourage the regular consumption of candy and treats that should really be “sometimes” foods. We need to have more dietitians involved with the development of educational resources. We need to ensure that teachers are nutrition and media literate so that they don’t use resources such as those mentioned above in their classrooms. If children are the future we need to do better at equipping them with the skills to navigate and emerge from this “post truth” era.


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Where did her body go?

I was standing in line at the grocery store on the weekend and I noticed a magazine with a photo of Britney Spears in a bikini with the headline “How Britney Got Her Body Back!”. I didn’t take a photo of the magazine because I felt like that would be weird. Instead, I promptly googled it when I got to the car. I couldn’t find the current issue but I did discover that this wasn’t the first time Brit got her body back.

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It would also seem that she’s not the first celeb to have lost and found her body.

Apparently, over the years, myriad celebrities have been losing their bodies and then having them returned. Someone should really get Scully and Mulder on this.

Seriously though, why do we tend to believe that we are less ourselves when there is more of ourselves? What a weird species/society we are. What a shame that we can’t celebrate and respect bodies of all shapes and sizes. What a pity that when a woman gains weight during pregnancy it’s as though she’s been invaded by body snatchers and not providing a nurturing environment to her child.

I know that it’s a difficult frame of mind to escape. It’s hard to “feel like yourself” when your body is different from the way it’s always been. But let’s start trying. Ladies (and gents) your body is always your own. Try to treat it with love and respect no matter what your weight may be.


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Musings on body image

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I’ve been thinking about body image lately. A few things I’ve seen on social media lately have led to me wondering if, when helping clients with weight management, we (i.e. dietitians, personal trainers, doctors) should be giving clients a bit of a disclaimer.

Someone I know posted a letter from a girl complaining about how every time she goes to a hairstylist, she’s informed that they can’t do what she wants with her hair. She brings stacks of photos and is frustrated that they continue to tell her that it won’t work with her hair. Honestly, that’s the mark of a good stylist that they’ll be honest and upfront and not tell you that you can have big bouncy blonde curls if your hair is naturally black and stick straight.

Perhaps, as weight management professionals, we should be doing something similar with our clients. There needs to be a discussion of expectations and an acceptance of the facts. How many of us are (or have worked with) people who aspire to possess the body of some celebrity or other? Sure, such aspiration can provide motivation at the gym or resolve at the grocery store. But we need to realise that we¬†all have different body types and for many of us no matter how much we workout, no matter how many cookies we eschew for broccoli, we’re just not going to look like *insert latest uber hot celeb name here*. And that’s not a bad thing. We need to learn to accept and love ourselves (and our clients) no matter what our size or shape. So maybe you don’t have a thigh-gap or a bikini-bridge or whatever the mythical physical trait of the day is. Who cares? Embrace not just the features you like about yourself but the ones you don’t because they’re what make you, you.