As a nutrition specialist, I see many patients who are seeking advice about their diet and its possible connection to their health.
Take Anthony, who came to see me in consultation for improved management of his indigestion. Anthony had been eating a steady diet of high-calorie fast foods but had been able to keep his symptoms at bay with medications until recently. We quickly went to work on his diet to provide him some relief. Of course, Anthony was aware that he should cut back on the cheeseburgers and fries. But when it came to making less obvious food choices, he -- like many Americans -- was in the dark.
The Internet has made nutrition information more accessible, but not necessarily more helpful -- even when that information comes from respected sources. Take the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid: Although some of the information it contains was updated in 2005 (and renamed "MyPyramid"), much of the advice hasn't changed since it was created in 1992. For years, I have received sharp criticism from patients (including Anthony) who have attempted to navigate the pyramid's website for wholesome eating tips. In 1992, the pyramid icon was considered advanced because it promoted physical activity, but its shortcomings stem from its failure to deliver on personalization and portion control. Today, the USDA pyramid is a dinosaur in the ever-evolving field of nutrition.