New Year, New Insights: Best and Worst Health Advice, as Told by Our Contributors
Article

New Year, New Insights: Best and Worst Health Advice, as Told by Our Contributors

Published on Friday, December 29, 2023
by
Rebecca Ledford

Health & Wellness

The Best Gems: Insights from Our Contributors

Flashback time! Imagine sitting in your middle school classroom, surrounded by peers, and your health teacher walks in. She pulls down the screen, turns on the projector, and displays the MyPlate diagram we love and know so well (for those who remember, this used to be the Food Pyramid). She begins to give you tips about what you should and should not eat, how much of each food you should eat, and why lima beans are so wonderful. Okay, I added the last phrase, but you get the idea. Health class was always a maelstrom of information for twelve-year-olds, and you usually left with an insatiable craving for McDonald’s afterward.

Now, we’re all grown up. We know about calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins. For those of you who are avid Foodguides readers, you even know about GERD and IBS! But what about the other aspects of healthy eating? What are the dos and don’ts of nutrition?

Well, Foodguides family, I have asked a few other expert contributors about the excellent advice they have received and the bad advice they recommend you ignore.

First is Emily Hamm, MS, RDN, CSO, LD. She has a passion for gut health and was excited to share a few things she’s learned.

What’s the best health advice you’ve received?

Advocate for yourself! Sometimes, patients don't always ask the right questions, and as a healthcare provider, I always welcome and encourage questions (even if they don't align with mainstream media). I may not always agree professionally, but at the end of the day, I will provide my patient or client with the best recommendations available based on current evidence and experience. I think healthcare gets it wrong when we ignore patients' questions or opinions regarding their health care. If you don't feel heard by your healthcare provider, find someone who listens and cares about what your questions are. 

What’s the worst health advice you’ve received?

"Just keep monitoring your symptoms, and let me know if you figure out what is bothering you." 

That is what a doctor told me when I was seeking help with a GI issue I had been having for several years. This provider ran "all the tests" and didn't find anything to explain the problem that I was having, so instead of brainstorming ideas of what we could do next, she simply told me to continue to monitor and to follow up with her. Even though I, too, am a healthcare provider and possibly know a little more than the average client/patient, I still felt that this was a slap in the face. I had been brainstorming and trying to figure out what my problem was. I felt let down by my doctor. I wish that they would have referred me to someone else or even said I am not sure. Let me brainstorm. 

What is some advice you would like to give to our Foodguides family?

Our gut health matters! Taking any small step to improve your gut health will positively impact and increase your overall health. Food is the best medicine we have to treat our gut, and I believe that taking steps to improve and impact your gut is necessary. Whether you have IBS or GERD, find a dietitian who you can work with to help manage your side effects. Find a doctor/provider who is able and willing to investigate further and solve the problem. I believe that root causes can be addressed and fixed, and people can find relief and healing from these problems. 

Next is Savannah Duffy, MS, RDN, LD. She has extensive knowledge of the role of plant-based diets on our health and wanted to share the following tips and tricks:

What’s the best health advice you’ve received?

"Eat your veggies!" 

As a kid, I would roll my eyes when my parents would tell me to not skip over the vegetables on my plate. Now, as an adult and a dietitian, I get it. Not only do I think vegetables are tasty and add beautiful color to my plate, but my quality of life is significantly improved when I'm focusing on getting 5 servings a day. My gut is happy, my immune system is strong, and I rest easy knowing I'm getting plenty of phytonutrients to protect my health for years to come. 

What’s the worst health advice you’ve received?

The worst advice I have been given was that to be a vegetarian, all you have to do is cut out meat. When I first became interested in nutrition in high school, I decided to give being a vegetarian a try. I cut out all meat products, but I put very little thought into balancing my meals without meat. I was lacking a healthy protein source at most of my meals and snacks. As a result, I over-consumed junk food, was often ill, and even ended up gaining weight. Needless to say, my vegetarian phase did not last beyond high school. Years later (I won't tell you how many years) and armed with nutrition knowledge, I follow a plant-forward diet that gives me all the right nutrients, keeps me satisfied, and I haven't been sick in a year!

What is some advice you would like to give to our Foodguides family?

Speak up for yourself, and don't be afraid to get a second (or third!) opinion. There are often multiple ways to approach a problem, and if you're not comfortable with a proposed solution, speak up! 

and

The easy solution is often not the best solution. It can be so tempting to give in to gimmicky headlines and marketing campaigns that promise quick and easy results through the use of a specific diet plan, supplement, or other tempting health tool. My personal experience and my experience with my patients have taught me that this is almost always too good to be true. Long-lasting results that significantly improve your quality of life often take some time and a little bit of patience. Arming yourself with the right support team, including a registered dietitian, can help you implement these meaningful changes. 

Finally, we have Dr. Allison Koch, PhD, RDN. She is Monash FODMAP trained in the Low FODMAP diet and has some enlightening advice.

What’s the best health advice you’ve received?

Find a fitness routine that you enjoy doing. Movement doesn’t have to feel like a chore, and you don’t have to be in a gym for hours at a time to get fit. I like to catch up on my favorite shows and YouTubers when I’m getting my steps in on the treadmill; it makes me happy.

What’s the worst health advice you’ve received?

Don’t eat anything white. This is still the worst advice that is given by some medical professionals today, but it is not practical nutritionally, culturally, or socioeconomically. Many white foods, namely bread, potatoes, bananas, and rice, are inexpensive staple foods in many homes. They can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet in proper serving sizes.

What is some advice you would like to give to our Foodguides family?

Manage Your Stress. If you are under a state of chronic stress and are making dietary and lifestyle changes in the New Year, you are going to hit massive roadblocks unless you find a way to take charge of your stress management. Make self-care your number one priority.

Holiday Wishes for Health:

There you have it! The dos and don’ts of the health world (at least from our end). Do you have any other questions you’d like to ask our expert contributors? Please message us on our website, Facebook, X, and Instagram!

Have a happy new year and a season of well-being a healthy eating!

 

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