Poll: Whom Do You Trust for Nutrition Information?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I've noticed a popular trend this year among friends who have children.  A common New Year's Resolution I heard other moms talking about was to feeding their families fewer processed foods.  This has been one of my goals for quite some time, but I know from experience that it's not very easy.  One reason it can be difficult to feed your kids healthier foods is that you get different recommendations about the "right" and "wrong" things to eat depending on where you look.  Your doctor says one thing. The doctor on TV says another. SparkPeople's dietitians recommend certain strategies. And those tips might conflict with what your best friend has tried successfully.
According to a new national survey, moms will be making changes to their food-buying decisions over the next year, and looking to more non-traditional sources for advice.  When it comes to food and nutrition, "Moms place higher priority on the opinions of bloggers and peers than that of experts like doctors and dietitians," according to the survey results. This stood out to me; it seems we trust one another more than the people we've been told to trust as "experts" all these years. So who do you trust more?

In the past few years, I've subscribed to various food blogs as a way to get recipes and information about what goes into the foods we eat.  Often they're written by other moms who share my goals and interests, sharing what works best for their families.  At the same time, I take the advice of physicians, dietitians, friends, family, and other reliable sources and sift through it all. But ultimately, I decide how to make the best food buying decisions.  I've determined that there is no single expert when it comes to healthy eating, and I just have to do my homework and decide for myself what's best.  I just try to use common sense when deciding what to believe.     
So how do you find helpful and trustworthy information when you're trying to decide what foods to feed your family—or even just to eat yourself?  Here are a few common sense tips to evaluate any nutrition claim:
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No one food is going to give you all of the important nutrients you need in a day, and no single food can cause or cure any weight or health issue.  It takes a variety of foods to create a balanced diet that is good for your health.
  • Consider the source.  What do the companies or organizations involved have to gain by promoting this product?  Are the recommendations based on peer-reviewed, reliable research?  Not to say that you can’t get good information from more informal sources, but it’s just important to understand where the data comes from when making decisions about what to believe.
  • Beware of biased recommendations.  If a trainer at the gym says you need to take supplements in order to reach your goals, consider that they probably have financial incentive to get you to buy.  Be careful and do your homework. 
  •  Avoid the extremes.  You don’t need to give up certain food groups or eat huge volumes of specific foods in order to be healthy.  Your best bet is to develop a reasonable style of eating that you can live with for the rest of your life.  Although I try to avoid processed foods, I’m not going to say my kids and I never eat them.  That’s just not a realistic way for my family to live.   

So tell me: Who do YOU trust most when making decisions about food and nutrition? 

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