As the Nutrition Diva podcast celebrates its 300th episode, here are a few reflections on what I've learned along the way.
I've been doing the Nutrition Diva podcast for six years now. But, really, we've been doing it together! The majority of the hundreds of topics I've covered came from emails, comments, posts, and questions from you. And I've learned every bit as much from our "collaboration" as I hope you have. Here are some of the most important things I've learned or relearned over the past six years.
1. No single diet is ideal for everyone. I see an enormous amount of energy being wasted on arguing which diet is "best." The scientific literature is full of dueling studies. Around water coolers (digital or otherwise), we get dueling anecdotes. We convene highly politicized nutrition think tanks to decide once and for all what a healthy diet looks like. But where is it written that there is only one way to eat healthy and that once we figure out what it is, everyone must eat that way? What's important is what works for you: your biochemistry, your genetics, your preferences, and your lifestyle.
See also: How to Create Your Own Best Diet
2. The basics matter more than the details. Not only do we spend too much time worrying about details that aren't really that important, but we also often do it at the expense of getting the big stuff right. It doesn't make sense to start freaking out about whether your ketchup has high fructose corn syrup if you're still drinking 2-3 sodas a day. And I don't think what time you eat your first meal of the day matters nearly as much as what you eat.
See also: How to Overhaul Your Diet
3. Small changes that you sustain over time are much more powerful than big gestures that only last a day or week. I'd rather have you permanently cut your added sugar intake by 30% than go without any sugar at all for 5 days...and then go right back to your previous intake.
4. If it works for you (and it’s not harmful), that’s all the evidence you need. I talk a lot about evidence...whether or not there is any data to support a claim about a food, nutrient, or diet. I think it's really important to be able to distinguish between a hunch and something that's been empirically tested. But that doesn't mean that the only good ideas are the empirically tested ones—or that every good idea has been empirically tested. This comes with a giant helping of "buyer beware," but if something is working for you, no matter how loony, and it's not harmful, unsafe, or bankrupting you, be my guest.
5. When it comes to nutrition, we’re making educated guesses based on incomplete information. Maybe the biggest thing I've learned about nutrition over the course of my career is how much we still don't know. We have to work with what we've got, of course, and try to make intelligent choices, but we "experts" would do well to remember that the "data" aren't all in yet.
Thanks for making the last six years so enriching...and fun!
Breakfast with coffee image courtesy of Shutterstock