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Posting Nutritional Info: Good Idea or Catalyst for Disordered Eating?

Posted Mar 06 2009 2:41pm
Here's a catch 22 for you this morning. Harvard's dining services had decided to post the nutritional breakdown of the food it sold to students alongside the products as a way to promote healthy eating. The plan apparently backfired when a number of students and parents expressed concern for those students with eating disorders or "unhealthy" food relationships, saying that by posting these nutritional breakdown the dining service was placing undue focus on content of the food. As a result, the labels have been removed, although it is still possible to look up the information.

It's easy to agree with both sides. I have friends who have suffered from eating disorders. I have friends who have suffered with weight issues. I know people with possibly unhealthy obsession with calorie contents, and I also know people who truly have know idea what they are putting into their mouths. So what to do? Most nutrition classes I take today are trying to keep the focus less on "Don't eat that, it's bad," and more on "You should include more of this, it's wonderful". Maybe if the services posted information on what was GOOD in the food (high levels of fiber, good source of protein, whole grains, veggies etc.) it would have made the whole experience more positive. Then again, some people need a shock value, or perceived risk to make that change (like finding out that a large oreo cookie shake from Jack in the Box has 1450 calories and 75 grams of fat, yep I just found that one out) for the better. That's why I love nutrition, it truly isn't one size fits all. It is dynamic and changing and what works for me may or may not work for you, but my job will be to help you find what does.

Here's a link to the original article. What do you think?
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