When Did Eating Get So Hard?

I had the pleasure of speaking at the recent FILEX Conference in Melbourne and was delighted to find a growing interest in the area of the science and psychology of behaviour change – so much so that the rather late session of 5.30pm was well populated by people who were attentive, interested and asked probing questions. It is gratifying to witness the change over the years in the focus of health and fitness professionals to the more subtleties of human nature and to accept that it is not simply a case of telling (or or ordering) them what to do!

However, I was curious and a little concerned at the level of interest – no the seeming obsession at times – with various eating regimes. It would appear that there is mixed information out there on the pros and cons of what at times seem like restrictive and quite extreme ideas on what provides good nutrition. I am not sure when things changed from getting a good balance of nutrients from a variety of sources and balancing energy expenditure with energy intake to create a healthy weight. I would go so far as to say I notice a growing fanaticism around different methods of cleansing, restoring gut health, preventing any and every disease and presumably somewhere in the piece, fat loss for those who need it. I was relieved to hear one prominent dietician ask whether the poser of a certain question would not rather obtain all nutrients from a balanced eating plan without the need to fast, purge or deprive themselves of selective foods.  

There is no doubt that various people have requirements that would be best served by a selective choice of foods and omission of others. However, if we combine what my topic was all about with nutritional guidelines, surely we are trying to help people make food, exercise and healthy living automatic behaviours that require no special thought, organisation or extensive re-organisation to stick to. Do we have to make it that hard?