A Personal Trainers Perspective on Nutrition Documentaries
When it comes to nutrition, there’s plenty we don’t know. Further on this, Personal Trainers engage in the same nutrition education as most General Practitioners, Physiotherapists and most other Allied Health Professionals (A.H.P's). There are other A.H.P's that do dive deeper into the sphere of nutrition such as but not limited to, Nutritionists and Dieticians. These last two focus on specific populations, as opposed to the other professionals which focus on the general population.
So, when I see fellow fitness professionals touting a meal plan or advocating a specific diet or detox, I cringe. With thanks to a scope of practice, there is very little in the way that someone in a similar position as mine can do when it comes to specifically engage with our clients on nutrition.
Science hasn't identified one best diet or eating approach. Due to the over 7.5 billion people of this world, there is no one size fits all approach to nutrition. Because of this, you can be sure that no documentary filmmaker has discovered this. Regardless of how compelling the narrative is. Including documentaries that you agree with. So when you, yourself watches a trending nutrition documentary and become captivated with:
nutrition advise that contradicts what you've been informed on previously,
questionable eating methods you believe may set you back,
an extreme diet that looks like it can get you results (but might not)
What do you do?
As a professional, I want you to succeed. I want you to do what is right. I can't tell you that it is wrong nor should I try and prove that it is wrong. As a professional, there is a much healthier and effective approach for you. I am to be helpful, not right.
Establishing this habit in me fosters a constructive and progressive conversation, trust and appreciation of each other.
The honest truth is that nutrition debates won't end any time soon. Maybe not even in our lifetimes. Progress in science and nutrition is more about eliminating what is wrong than that of finding the ultimate truth. In more ways than one, we'll never know if we're right. Trying to prove that I am right and you, the client, is wrong interferes with the ability to develop the trainer-client relationship further.
For many professionals, uncertainty in nutrition does raise foundation-shaking questions, such as:
How can I as a coach feel comfortable giving guidance based on incomplete information?
How can I avoid a crisis of confidence when faced with a new theory in nutrition that doesn't match everything I was taught?
How can I tell the difference between evolving my coaching philosophy and just getting caught in a fad?
We believe that we at any given point right now we are the person we will be for the rest of our lives. But, that isn't how life works. It would be the same in fitness, nutrition and science. Looking back on the history of fitness, nutrition and science, there were things people strongly believed to be true within these topics that were later debunked, refuted or deemed not relevant.
As a professional, I'm not going to ignore current thinking and research on these topics. But to contrast that there always has been a high level of uncertainty not only within the sphere of the scientific community but life itself.
I will focus on what I know with the highest degree of confidence in any given moment. Then explore these new ideas and methods then gather the information and provide you with the best path forward based on the desired outcome.
What is known about nutrition science?
If you think the uncertainty in nutrition causes problems for someone such as myself, imagine what it's like for my clients?
There will always be contradicting information, refutations and people causing tribalism and discord where there shouldn't be any. These messages might have a level of passion behind them, but they end up confusing and discouraging people like yourself in the first place, since it appears that no one knows the right way forward.
This is where, as a coach, I provide you with clarity and focus.
"How?" You will ask!
I emphasise the importance and effectiveness of the fundamentals, which all A.H.P and fitness professionals are educated in, of nutrition.
Despite all the seemingly conflicting information, there are fundamental elements that all A.H.P and fitness professionals are educated in:
Eat more minimally-process whole foods;
More vegetables are better than fewer vegetables;
Eat enough protein;
Manage food intake based on hunger and fullness compared to measuring.
This Venn diagram shows the fundamentals of nutrition to help keep you on this track. Everything outside of this isn't a matter of life or death, but that of personal preference. Ultimately, you're responsible for how you eat. So if you want to try something new as a result of a nutrition documentary, that is your decision.
Help you do it better!