A few months ago, my roommates and I had little end-of-finals party at our apartment. I was talking with a few people about the Paleo diet (that will have to be a whole separate post). And the conversation went something like this….
Random guy: “Oh you are a dietetics major? I just started the Paleo thing on Friday, what do you think about it?”
To which I replied: “Welllll.. the Paleo diet does help you avoid highly processed foods with lots of added sugar and fat. However, it poses a risk by leaving out grains and dairy. Those are an important source of carbohydrates,vitamins, and minerals.”
I weighed out some pros and cons for him and left my guest with a bottom line of…
“Diets usually don’t work in the long term. But if you are doing this as a lifestyle change that genuinely makes your body feel good, gives you energy, and incorporates all of the nutrients that you need, then okay. I am not going to say that I like or dislike it, because it is a personal choice.”
To which the girl next to me says: “Well that’s kind of a cop out.”
And I was appalled.
According to Urban Dictionary, a “cop out” is defined as…
n. An excuse designed to shirk responsibility.
I had never, ever, considered this type of explanation to be a cop out. But looking back, my outspoken party guest did have a point. Sort of. She was upset that I did not give a straight yes or no answer. A lot of times, I think a simple answer is what we want to hear. But unfortunately, that’s just not how dietetics works.
I truly believe that what you feed your body is a very individualized and personal choice. Think about it: everyone has different body types, activity levels, genetics, tastes, lifestyles, and so on. One single meal plan or diet can’t possibly satisfy everyone’s diverse needs.
In addition, we sometimes forget that dietetics is a field of science that is constantly evolving. Quite honestly, we haven’t been studying nutrition for very long. While it might be easier to stick with what we think we know, we are constantly getting more information about nutrition.
So it’s important to remember that there is not always a hard and fast answer. The role of a dietitian is to understand the science that we have right now apply it to everyday life.
If your nutrition expert is giving you advice and it’s not quite what you want to hear, please cut us a break. Remember that #1: There usually are not yes or no answers to suit everyone’s needs and #2 Our field is still growing.
Thanks for understanding 🙂