Sunday, February 06, 2011

You can lead a horse to water...

Now that the rain has (more or less) stopped and I'm no longer glued to the BoM website, Twitter updates from Victoria Police and the SES, or news sites and TV channels covering the crazy flooding here in Melbourne, I can turn my attention back to more normal things.

Last week's post questioning people's knowledge of nutrition basics sparked quite a few comments, so I thought I'd explore the subject a little further.

I honestly think that things may be different in the U.S. - my reading and TV viewing seems to indicate that a lot of folks there really don't know the first thing about healthy eating, and that many people don't actually know how to cook from fresh ingredients. I may be way off the mark, but it's the impression that I get.

Here in Australia, we have no excuse for not knowing how to eat reasonably well. Even if they're unaware of the finer details, it would be a rare Aussie who doesn't know that for good health, we need to eat lean meat and fish, fresh fruit and veg, whole grains and unsaturated fats. And that sugar is not something you ought to be eating on a regular basis. I'd also be surprised if they couldn't reel off a decent list of foods that fit the good-health bill.

My experience with clients, friends, family and acquaintances who "can't" lose weight is that they KNOW what they should be eating, but they either:

a) Don't care
b) Exhibit "food amnesia" when it comes to what they really eat
c) Grossly overestimate the amount of food they need
d) Want to eat crap more desperately than they want to lose the weight, at least when face to face with said crap food

Of course d) leads into a whole lot of other issues around emotional/psychological reasons for being overweight in the first place, but that's a whole other subject.

There are finer points of nutrition that many people aren't aware of - if they're not fitness professionals, nutrition scientists or someone with a particular interest in nutrition. And yes, folks do get sucked in by clever labelling.

I once had a client who thought they were doing a good thing in buying bags of jelly snakes to eat on a daily basis, because the bag was labelled "all natural" and "98% fat free". I had to point out the sugar content and explain how the calories in those snakes was cancelling out the training sessions she was doing.

But think about it - even when I went to primary school a hundred years ago, we learned about the value of the vitamins, minerals and fibre in fruit and veggies, that milk contained calcium for our growing bones, that meat and fish provided protein for growth and repair of muscle, skin and so on.... These days kids are taught even more about food and exercise.

Every medical centre has posters on the walls, leaflets and magazines full of information. Maternity hospitals and baby health centres give new parents info on infant and pre-schooler nutrition. Government websites like the Better Health Channel have a wealth of information.

Anyone who honestly wants to know about this stuff wouldn't have a hard time finding it. Knowledge is not the issue in most cases.

So what ARE some of the issues these people face? Anyone care to comment?

4 comments:

kathrynoh said...

Yeah it's bullshit. Every school kid learns about the healthy eating pyramid. You can't say you don't know how to eat well.

Maybe some people have issues if they have grown up in a family that relies on packaged food and they never learn how to cook from scratch. If mum (or dad) doesn't teach you how to cook, then it's a challenge - but definitely not impossible.

LizN said...

You're right, knowledge isn't it - so I've put on my thinking cap and come up with another post. xox

Magda said...

Kek, I have nothing to add but just want to say that I think you're spot on. Oh and just another slant on this issue are those people (and I find men are more so than women) who would register as obese whereas their percpetion of themselves is "a little overweight." Puhleeese, take you're rose coloured goggles off and face up to reality.

AlleyCat said...

I think that most people are taught about nutrition, if it's not made a priority or reinforced from a young age it has little impact.

I'll give you a real life example: I have a neice (16) & nephew (19) who have grown up with a mother on social welfare. Their dad died when they were 6 months & 3 yrs old. Mum has skipped rent, & moved house maybe 10 times since, they've both been to multiple schools. I don't go to their house often, but I've never seen fruit. Veg = spuds often the frozen variety out of the freezer & peas again out of the freezer. Other meals include cans of caserole & packets of pasta etc. Both kids are skinny but mainly eat prepackaged food & a lot of juice & soft drink. While I don't doubt that they have been taught about healthy choices @ school; there has been no reinforcement at home. Mum still smokes a pack of ciggies a day & has recently been diagnosed with emphysema.

They have access to fresh stuff when they are visiting me, but that is rare these days.

I can only hope that when it finally is important to them its not too late.

Also I think your option D (head stuff) plays an enormous role in many cases.

Am liking the discussions you are bringing up here :0)

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