As A Dietitian, The Science Of Nutrition Is Fascinating
I love that my professional career as a dietitian has such practical application and that I can spend time doing on the job training that I can later take home with me and incorporate into that night’s dinner.
I love learning about clinical trials done in laboratories where scientists isolate particular nutrients from garden plants and sit on benches for long hours where they probe, dissect and expose each to harsh environments and make long lists of all of the ways these teeny tiny plant chemicals might boost our immune system once we eat them.
I love epidemiology, where scientists look at groups of people on this planet who have eaten certain spices or drank certain leaves from some rare plants for generations upon generations and have a lower incidence of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. It all fascinates me.
But When Cooking and Eating, I Focus On Taste And Texture
Off With the White Coat and On With the Apron
I’ve got to be honest: when I’m cooking and eating, I don’t really think about all that science stuff too much. I mean, at the end of the day once I’m back home standing in my kitchen with my apron on, it’s all just food.
The thing is, when we look at how people ate before the national obsession over what people eat began, they ate healthy and they ate well (I LOVE food anthropology, too).
Paying Attention To How Food Makes You Feel
So here’s the thing…try eating with a little less attention to the science and more attention to how it makes you feel, the taste, how it looks, how your food choices complement one another, texture and temperature.
Taking Healthy Eating Too Far: Orthorexia
I really do think most people who are true healthy eaters, even those of us who thirst for every drop of nutrition information out there, really do eat this way.
So, try this Healthy Eating Pop Quiz!
Do you eat walnuts because:
AThey taste delicious.
BThey contain a ton of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids which helps prevent things like heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
If you chose a or c, great. If you chose b, consider eating any other nut or seed you enjoy since most of them contain these or similar nutrients. Go for cashews, pecans, almonds, hemp, flax, sunflower, whatever. They’re all great.
Do you use olive oil because:
AIt’s pretty versatile, it tastes great, and most of my recipes call for it.
BIt contains loads of alpha tocopherol, multiple forms of phenols, and carotenoids, all of which boost our immune function and it’s mostly monounsaturated fat which is known to help prevent heart disease.
CUm…what the heck else would I use?
If you chose b, most all fat that comes from plants has this stuff. Like avocados, seeds, nut butters and other cold pressed plant oils. So eat plant fats and use other plant oils. If you chose a or c, keep up the good work.
You have blueberries in the fridge because:
A They were on sale and I LOVE them.
BThey contain multiple antioxidants that help with coordination, balance, and memory and protect my brain from oxidative stress.
CI don’t. I’m all out. I ate them all.
If you chose a or c, awesome. If you chose b, did you know that all plants contain these components? All plants have some combination of antioxidants. All fruits, all vegetables. Yup, even bananas.
So, how did you do?
Healthy Eating: It’s Personal!
Read, learn and stay informed but try spending as much time in your body as you do in your head. And as much time in the kitchen as you can.
Learn More About Our Nutrition and Eating Behaviors Program