It’s so hard to know what’s real sometimes. With so much conflicting information out there, it seems like everyone is telling you something different. There’s an expert on every corner claiming they know what’s right for your body, mind and soul. For each article you read about a new health trend, there’s five more aiming to debunk it. So how do we navigate through it all? How do we know what’s actually right? I’ve discovered some major issues with the way health information is presented to us but here are some ways you can power through and make decisions based on what is right for you.
1. Recognize false claims.
One of my biggest pet peeves as a science educator is scrolling through social media to find a post about nutrition that claims something like, “New research proves” or “Studies show” or “Doctors have found…”
Our brains are trained to view those terms as an authority and it’s scary that we don’t immediately question the who or what behind the claims. A stranger simply posting a photo of the Top 10 Foods That Alkalize Your Blood should NOT carry much weight. Also, alkalizing your blood with food to combat disease is not a thing but that’s a topic for another day. My point is, we need to start holding ourselves accountable for finding out what is real. What is the research? Who did the study? Where are the doctors?
Despite my scientific background, I went through a phase where I was spiritually moved by all the things. I was like a health and wellness sponge that got way too full and needed some serious wringing out. I was paralyzed and couldn’t make a single decision for myself because I didn’t know what was real.
I had to start doing my own research and so do you. Don’t make assumptions about the quality of a study. Look it up. Make sure there were proper controls used. Analyze the procedure and results for yourself. If that’s too much for you, verify the credentials of whoever conducted the research. If everything checks out and you feel it’s legitimate then go ahead and use that information. But anyone can type “research shows” after a post. It doesn’t make them an authority and you’re not off the hook for ensuring that the information is valid.
2. Identify special-interest groups.
Drug reps from pharmaceutical industries influence doctors to prescribe certain medications over others by offering incentives. The movie, Love and Other Drugs – please give us more Jake Gyllenhaal & Anne Hathaway love– shined some light on the inter-workings of pharmaceutical sales back in 2010 and it gave me hope for a raise in awareness.
Basically, your doctor is being bribed to give you a certain drug. I actually left my previous doctor because, regardless of how often I told him I didn’t want or need it, every visit involved “how about you try this” or “here’s a pamphlet for a new drug in case you change your mind.” Well. I know my body and I have no tolerance for that shit. So I found a doctor whose practice was to actually listen to their patients.
Now special-interest groups are becoming more prevalent in the nutrition world. Remember when eggs were good for you and then they were bad, then they were good again, and then they were bad? What the fuck, right? We’re on a health and wellness see-saw. Businesses with an agenda are out there trying to disprove the expert and stir the pot in order to get noticed.
What you must do is pay very close attention to where your information is coming from. Know the difference between marketing and scientific research. If a Coca-Cola venture group is highlighting supposed health benefits of flavored milk drinks or sugar alternatives, you might want to second guess the value of that info. If you’re looking for a non-biased study about GMO products, maybe double check that the sponsor isn’t Monsanto. Empower yourself by understanding where your information is coming from and what that means for you.
3. Be wary of products born from health trends.
There are tons of new products on the market that were manufactured specifically in response to a health trend. An entire isle in the grocery store is now dedicated to gluten-free packaged products that never existed before. The problem with this is that people are becoming conditioned to think that they can’t eat bread and pasta because they’re inundated with gluten-free labels on everything…even things that never contained gluten to begin with! There is certainly a market for it. Celiac sufferers are definitely benefiting from more food options but these companies are expanding their market and capitalizing off of the current movement to ward off gluten particles from anything that goes into your mouth or skin. Don’t jump on that bandwagon unless you absolutely need to. Most of us don’t. It’s not worth the stress that manifests from restricting foods. So many of those products are just another form of fake, processed crap anyway.
The diet industry has us so concerned about weight gain and sugar consumption that we think artificial sweeteners – composed of chemicals we’ve never heard of – are better for our body than real sugar. We think I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is somehow healthier than actual butter! Just because you can’t believe it, doesn’t mean your body can’t. It has to work a lot harder to process it, so it knows that shit ain’t real. Trust me. You need to be able to discern for yourself which products are necessary and beneficial and which are just plain harmful.
4. Ignore media projections.
Why are we still pretending that supermodels and professional athletes represent the average human? I know we’re making progress here but it is S-L-O-W. In the meantime, we’re physically and emotionally harming ourselves by competing with our own genetics to look more like the girl on that ad for the organic-vegan-moon cycle-yoga pants.
Companies are feeding on our desire to be beautiful (and happy because remember, beauty equals happiness!) in order to sell their products. The media still uses the appeal of sex to get our attention. We are a slave to the diet industry which, by the way, is projected by the Global Weight Loss and Weight Management Market Report to reach $278.75 billion by the end of 2023. Man, is our energy going to all the wrong places.
One powerful move you can make is to recognize how this world we live in has cultivated your own thinking. Our own body image tends to reflect society’s concept of the ideal body image. But I can promise you, whatever you think that ideal image is, it’s not ideal for everyone! Not even most people. So put more effort into changing the way you think about yourself. You’d be surprised how letting go of the hold your body image has will free you to actually get healthier…authentically and with longevity.
5. Know your body.
Notice that I’ve been pretty heavy with the term ‘you’ throughout this article. That’s because it all comes down to what you need. The health decisions that you make are about you. Not your mom or your sister or your health guru neighbor. You. Our greatest offense is that we’ve traded in our intuition and self-worth for other people’s beliefs. We’ve forgotten how to decide for ourselves. We think everyone else knows better than us.
And they might. Other people might know more about politics than I do. Or about how to code. Or run a farm. Or crunch numbers in an accounting firm. But the one thing no one knows more than me is MY. OWN. BODY. And the same goes for you. It might not seem like it right now, but start eliminating the influence of all the crap flying at you and you sure will. Life is so much smoother when you’re tuned into your body, mind, and spirit. So start tapping in! You know what is right for you. You just have to start listening. Start recognizing the signals. If something feels right, go with it. If it doesn’t, question it. Take back the power. Come home to yourself and the rest will follow.
Take care of yourself.
Follow my blog for more posts like this delivered right to you and don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can help you with. Life is a journey…a tough one at times. I’m here for you.