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Yet another bun fight.

Posted 24/05/2016 - By Harley Farmer

As part of training in social etiquette we tend to tell children not to throw food at each other. To have the proverbial ‘bun fight’ is deemed unseemly. Unless of course you are the Government and you feel someone is challenging your paradigms.

This week a diet-related charity had the gall, audacity, or perhaps bravery, to suggest an alternative strategy for healthy eating to that advocated by the UK government. The response was immediate and visceral; the official dietary guidance was based on evidence and to suggest anything else was misleading and dangerous.

In simple terms, it was a bun fight over the airwaves. Each party had their say citing evidence and neither seemed interested in the other’s view.

Where does that leave those of us who want to eat something? In even greater confusion.

The editorial in this week’s New Scientist (21 May 2016) has the title ‘Dish the evidence’ and I quote “Pretty much anyone can declare themselves to be a diet expert. And when the only arbiter of authority is popularity, the word “recipe” can quickly be followed by “for disaster”.

So do we follow the medical advice or follow the latest trend? Or should we even be asked to make such a polarising choice? I happen to believe both parties in this week’s bun fight are correct, yet as a professional with considerable knowledge in the dietary field I’m supposed to take one side.

Why?

In my psychology work I know it’s wise to judge your communication by the other person’s response. If they hurl verbal abuse at you, that’s a really good time to have a discussion rather than hurl abuse back in a bun fight.

The government authorities are correct in the advice they purvey; which allows us to ask what the public do on hearing that advice? If the public respond with high levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes, the communication about evidence-based healthy eating has failed them, leaving them prone to bad diet and poor health.

One irrefutable fact is the alarming number of people who now find themselves overweight and diabetic.  That would suggest this is a really good time for all those who purport to have useful advice to come together to the benefit of the general population.

Diet is of critical importance and forms a prominent part of my work in providing health and happiness. A word I very rarely use is “don’t” as it’s immediately exclusive. There are more constructive ways to communicate; ways people like to hear and quickly incorporate into their new lifestyle pattern.

It’s a matter of balance. Eating a balanced diet may be an unexciting suggestion yet it reaches people’s minds. Whether ‘balanced’ means having a huge pizza in each hand really depends on how interested you are in health and happiness.

Please let me know if that view resonates with you.