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Find Out What Really is "Good For You"

By Laurie Beebe

October is when the annual convention of the American Dietetic Association is held. This year the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition, as it is called, is being held in Chicago. In addition to the research presentations updating us on the latest data about everything from appetite regulation to the nutritional care of burn patients, there will be food and nutrition companies present by the hundreds. They'll each have a booth set up in the enormous exhibit hall displaying pens and mugs and key chains to entice us to walk over to see what they have to tell us, and they'll all tell us the same thing: Why their product is so "good for you"!

The Pork Board will be represented, and The Dairy Council; The American Egg Board and the International Tree Nut Council. Nestle and Kelloggs will be there to tell us how chocolate is good for you and how breakfast cereal is a good start for your day. The California Dried Plum Board will be there (they changed the name of "prunes" to "dried plums" several years ago as a marketing technique since prunes have a reputation among some of not being very tasty). And there will be new products showcased like Quorn; a textured vegetable protein made from mushrooms that makes a delicious vegetarian version of 'chicken' patties and other substitute versions of meat products. What they all have in common is research to prove that their product is good for you; studies that show how consumption of the food they sponsor will reduce your chance of getting cancer, or improve your eye health, control your diabetes or help you lose weight.

But did you know you can find a study to support just about anything? If I wanted to do research to prove that eating lots of lemons makes my hair lighter, I could do that. There might be 929 studies that show lemon intake has no effect on hair color, but the 930th study might show a slight lightening of hair shade in a small group of women who drank lemonade every day... it might not be a direct result of the lemon intake but, hey, if that's what I'm trying to show then it works for me!

My point is, be careful about what you read and hear when trying to figure out what's 'good for you'. Ask and investigate when you see a study reported on the news that "coffee drinkers suffer lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease". Was the study sponsored by the coffee bean board? Was there more than one study done with the same result? Are there dozens of other studies that disprove this outcome? The saying "don't believe everything you read" is very applicable in relating to news about a specific food and what it can do for you. Don't be quick to judge, don't be quick to avoid one food because one study showed it can make blood sugar rise in some people with diabetes, and don't jump on the bandwagon to overeat another food because one study found it can help your eye health. Constantly changing your diet based on the latest rumors is unnecessary and confusing. If you try to keep up with the latest research on everything from everywhere you'll end up flustered and feeling like you just don't know what to eat or who to believe.

Look for information that has been obtained from reputable scientific institutions, results that have been repeated, and facts that have stood the test of time. Follow the recommendations of appropriate and reliable associations such as the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, The American Medical Association, and the American Heart Association. You'll find advice repeated consistently among all of these boards, such as "get plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains" and "maintain a regular exercise habit of at least 30 minutes of activity daily" and "consume fats and sweets in moderation".

It's easy to get confused with all the media bombarding us with so much new information every day. Don't let yourself get caught in the trap of trying to keep up with "what's good for you" and changing what you eat and what you avoid because of one report you heard. The bottom line is: there is not one food that will help cure or prevent any disease and, likewise, there is not any one food that will be the downfall of your health.

Follow the adage "everything in moderation" and check with the reputable national organizations for any questions you have on what's good for you!

Laurie Beebe, The Diet Coach, is a registered dietitian certified in adult weight management. Please visit Laurie's website, "Shaping Your Future" at http://www.mycoachlaurie.com for diet tips, links to great books and websites, and a free monthly newsletter! Visit http://lifedietbalance.blogspot.com for more great diet tips that can lead you to a healthier diet and permanent weight loss!

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