Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Get it good, but get it cheap. Discard theories that are unnecessarily complicated. Reject advice that is too impractical. Do not pursue contradictory goals

The effect of hundreds of books, magazine articles, and television programmes on nutrition has been negligible. In our days, the great majority of the population continues to eat in ways that sharply increase their risk of major illness and shorten their lifespan. 

Get it good, but get it cheap
Social scientists have come up with three explanations for this fact, but are still discussing which one is exact. To make things worse, these three theories leave us little margin to react:

Discard theories that are unnecessarily complicated

Nutrition advice, some argue, is so abstruse that will always remain dry and unappealing to most men and women. Recondite knowledge is destined, by its very nature, to the chosen few. In other words, this is how it is and there is no way around that.

Reject advice that is too impractical

After reading a nutrition or weight-loss book, motivation lasts only for a couple of weeks, others sustain. The whole advice is so impractical that cannot be implemented by anyone leading a normal life. It is as though you expected everybody to be interested in growing tomatoes on his windowsill. Who on earth can spare the time and energy to do that?

Do not pursue contradictory goals

The advice you read in one book is quickly contradicted by the next publication or television programme. Was nutrition not supposed to be an empirical science? How come that experts cannot agree on whether you should ban chocolate from your diet?

Who has the patience to navigate through thousands of pages of conflicting prescriptions? A third group of commentators concludes that, if specialists are still discussing the pros and cons of orange juice, the whole thing might not be worth the effort.

Which hypothesis is right? 

All three are correct in part, but none of them draws conclusions worthy to impart. The blindingly obvious has been left unsaid, as it often happens when truth is uncomfortable to spread. This is the most likely and, in my view, most accurate explanation: The health formulas proposed in those programmes are simply too expensive. No individual will prolong a diet that he can barely afford.

Organic vegetables, exotic fish, esoteric spices, and the like are easier to recommend than to obtain. The health challenge of our time does not consist of finding new theories to preach. What we need is to bring good nutrition within everybody's reach.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jinterwas under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]