Dismantling Mainstream Media's Nutritional Messages

Mainstream media sends us a particular message about nutrition, Katherine shares a couple of those messages that we seem to hear quite frequently from the mainstream media and helps to give us some ways that we can think about nutrition a little bit differently.
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By Katherine Andrew, MPH, RD, LDN


Cindi 0:00

Hey, Katherine, we’re really excited to have you here. It’s always a joy to spend time with you.


Katherine Andrew 0:04

Thanks. I’m excited to be here. I love talking with y’all. And there’s always some good conversation.


Cindi 0:08

So we’ve got some great questions for you. And without any further delay, we’re just going to go ahead and dive right in! Mainstream media sends us a particular message about nutrition, I’m hoping that you can share just a couple of those messages that we seem to hear quite frequently from the mainstream media, as well as helping to give us some ways that we can think about nutrition a little bit differently.


Katherine Andrew 0:36

I don’t love the way that mainstream media paints the picture of nutrition. So there’s kind of two big things that I always like to talk about when it comes the way that I think about nutrition and health and holistic nutrition a little differently.


And the first is that I think that it helps to think about nutrition as a practice, rather than a destination. I don’t love cute little memes. That’s not really my personality, but the idea of the value being in the journey and not the destination. And so to explain that a little bit, I think, for moms, and for dads out there, I think we do a really good job sometimes of focusing with our kids on stages of life. And yes, we get cluttered by the things that we think we’re working towards.


But one way to think about this a little different is the same way that we think about character, for our children and for ourselves. If I were to ask you, or any of you out there what is it that you hope your child will embody one day, then you would probably come up with some really cool words. I hear all kinds of really cool values and character traits that people think about when I asked that question. So if you think about kindness, is there a checkbox or if we’re working towards respect or honesty? If I’m teaching that to my child, do I teach them as though it’s something that there’s a beginning and an end to? Most of us immediately think of No, right? It’s not a destination process, we’re not working towards one final end. I think we recognize even in ourselves that that’s an ever evolving process. And even the way that I think about kindness, or honesty, or any of these other values, that I want someone to embody changes over the years, and I want it to change. I want it to be evolving, as I grow up, and as I mature, and same for my children.


So to translate that to health, is that I think, because of the way that we measure health, which is often by labs, and by weight, and very much numbers driven for most of our culture, we are often thinking about health as a beginning and an end. I’m here and I want to go there. A lot of us have started to think about it a little differently. What happens when I get there? And if I have this number in my mind, am I going to be a different person? What’s beneath all of that. And so I really like to help talk through with women and with men, what does it look like to practice health for you? What does it mean, to practice that and think of it more as a character trait, and again, not the exact translation, but all of a sudden, we start to think more about day to day. I start to think more about behaviors that are healthy for me and for my family. So that looks like getting outside and getting my face in the sun occasionally, and, and going for walks either with my family or by myself moving my body, eating meals sitting down. And then all of a sudden, I start to tune in more on what does the practice and the process of health look like, rather than focusing so much on this somewhat vague destination that might change in my life.


So I think that’s a biggie for me is really trying to work transition even the way that we approach our mindset and the language that we use around different areas of health. And this is a big one as it relates to nutrition and thinking of it more as a practice and less as a destination.


So that’s a big one for me, the other is entwined, and that is always trying to help women and men think about “what am I working towards.” So even if it’s that day to day practice, this idea of nutrition as a game of maximizing, and a practice of maximizing and pursuit rather than minimizing. Because I think we can all agree that for the last 20 years you ask someone the word nutrition, and immediately we think of what I’m eating that I shouldn’t be eating. What I’m doing that I shouldn’t be doing. The workouts that I’m not doing. What I’m eating too much of. Our minds always go to what do I need to read, remove from my diet. When we think about nutrition and even me, that’s still like the first thought that comes to mind is what should I take out when we think about improving our nutrition?


And I really like to flip that conversation around and think about what might I need to add in? What am I not getting enough of? That’s going to help me feel better and function better? And what does it mean for me to maximize my nutrition and my health? So again, this idea of pursuit and looking at how am I building myself. How am I growing myself rather than what am I taking away when it comes to nutrition? I would say that those are my two biggies that differ from a lot of mainstream media information.


Cindi 5:46

Thank you! You’re right. It’s so ingrained in us, mainstream media and shifting that perspective is so important. Everything you said was beautifully stated. Thank you so much for that.

Katherine Andrew, MPH, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters degree in Public Health with nearly fifteen years of experience in community public health and private nutrition counseling. Her work experience includes individual and group health counseling, interactive workshops, food systems consulting, non-profit program development and management, and safe skin care advocacy and promotion. She works with clients to identify and address health concerns, navigate food sensitivities, explore body image, plan healthy meals for themselves and their families, evaluate and improve hormone health, maximize stress management, and restore their relationship with eating so they can enjoy food and thrive. Gut health, food sensitivities, hormones, family food dynamics, and intuitive eating are a few of Katherine’s passions and specialties.

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