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Live Well. Eat Well.

Nothing in Nutrition is Black and White

Have you ever gotten an e-mail, text, or letter that made you go, "Wow, what is her problem?" In text, short sentences and using lots of periods can convey curtness. In person, the same message is tempered by facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice. The written word is tricky – so much can be lost in translation.

As an Extension Educator, it can be quite challenging to discuss food and nutrition in person, and even more so in written form, as with this column and on social media.

I fear that in the past, I have done my readers a disservice by not choosing my words as carefully as I should. My passion to provide science-based information can come off as extreme to some, while extremes are what I tell people to avoid. How can I call myself "Moderation Maven" when I myself come down so strongly on those who are at the other end of the spectrum? The last thing I want to do is alienate those who are open to receiving new information and hearing my perspective.

Nobody's perfect, and nothing is ever black and white. Nutrition and health, in particular, are difficult subjects. Food is always emotionally charged and we are constantly learning new things from research.

Case in point - we used to think that eggs were off limits and a very low-fat diet was best for heart health, but further study has shown us that eggs aren't so bad after all and it's more about the types of fats. Unfortunately, this might contribute to mistrust in our food system, government, and science as a whole. Who can you believe anymore? Which diet is the best? Is this food bad for me?

The answer is always going to be a shade of grey. There is no one-size-fits-all. Everyone's circumstances are different – what health issues you need to worry about, how much money you have to spend on food, what foods you like (or hate), whether you even know how to cook.

It has never been my intent to say that one way is better than the other. Yes, organic and conventional foods have been shown to have the same nutritional value, but more power to you if you want to buy organic. If you want to "eat clean" for a week to get yourself back on track, go for it.

Everyone has their opinions on health, and I'm no exception. I just happen to have a forum to communicate with others about it. So from now on, I'll try to leave my own bias out of it and stick to "just the facts, ma'am, just the facts." I will give you the information, then it's up to you to decide what to do with it.