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Everyone has presuppositions. You have them. I have them. Presuppositions are the foundations for everything a person believes. Whatever it is you presuppose about a topic will largely influence what you believe is accurate within the range of opinions on that topic.
Take politics, for example. Your fundamental presuppositions will largely determine whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Green, or something else. And, interestingly enough, we usually learn our presuppositions. Our parents or parental figures usually set our initial presuppositions. Teachers often challenge and change them through the school years. Sometimes self-study refines them further.
Diet and nutrition is not usually as controversial as politics. However, people are passionate about eating. This passion can turn to ire if long-held dietary presuppositions are challenged. But, you are reading this post. That means you are seeking information. You are likely evaluating your own presuppositions to see if they are true, false, or a mixture of both. Great! To illustrate the importance of presupposition evaluation, let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I believed that dietary fat was a dire threat to health. Wanting to be healthy, I switched over to low-fat products because I thought eating fat was bad. I avoided butter. I didn’t eat many eggs. After all, they are high in cholesterol, which leads to heart disease, right? And, as another example, I have family members on regular prescription medicines for a chronic health condition because they have been told that it’s the only option.
What if I told you that I have discovered many of my old presuppositions were myths? Would your jaw drop in disbelief? Mine did after I began reading a few years ago about various health and nutrition issues. It all began with an innocent listen of a well-respected neurosurgeon talking about aspartame. Man, what he said sure made me mad. I realized that if what he said was true, then I had been misled and possibly even deceived nearly my entire life by “authorities” in the health-related professions and the media. I was amazed by what I then though were outlandish claims. So, I began researching and reading. This jump-started a number of changes in our life and it continues today. I am hungry for truth. I want to live a life that is in sync with reality, and I don’t want to be deceived.
Like I have already mentioned, everyone has presuppositions. We begin learning things about food from the time we begin school until we kick the bucket. Unfortunately, what we learn as kids (or as adults for that matter) isn’t necessarily true. In order for meaningful change to occur in our diets, the presuppositions upon which our practices have been established must be evaluated. What is true and what isn’t? When is conventional wisdom more convention than correct?
We can’t deny that things are not faring well in America when it comes to our health. Emory University’s Ken Thorpe, a health economist, recently published a report, “The Future Costs of Obesity.” In it, he stated that if current trends continue, by 2018 40% of US adults will be obese. Today, nearly 60 million Americans are obese.
According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2007, 23.6 million children and adults in the US had diabetes. That’s 7.9% of our population. That year alone, 17.9 million people were diagnosed. Even scarier, 57 million people were pre-diabetic. Sadly, about 2 million adolescents, aged 12-19 were pre-diabetic.
Is this as alarming to you as it is to me?
If all of the things our doctors have been telling us to do in order to stay healthy are true, such as choose low fat products, why are these diseases still continually rising? Does it make you begin to wonder if maybe what we’ve been told is not completely accurate? It is time for us to evaluate these things we’ve been told for so many years to determine if some of the conventional wisdom is part of the problem instead of the solution.
Some of you may be well beyond the need to evaluate your presuppositions. You understand the reality of things and are ready to make changes. If so, you are ahead of the game. Consider these first two chapters a valuable review opportunity!
If you are still skeptical or are having a hard time believing that doctors could have been wrong for all these years, please read on. Hear me out before dismissing altogether. It can be very difficult to discard something you have believed for a long time. Even harder could be the fact that someone you respected may have been deceived themselves. It won’t be easy, but I want you to consider this: wouldn’t you want to know if you believed something false? Wouldn’t you want to know if something that you believe is causing you to act in a way that could compromise the future health of you and your family? It is hard for us in America to think beyond the here and the now. But I’m asking you to please consider the reality beyond today and the consequences that certain choices carry. The suggestions I will make below go against what the mainstream media and culture would say. I don’t do it to be radical or to be trendy, or so that you’ll look at me and think that I’m either really cool or really wacky. I genuinely care about the health of those around me and want them to think for themselves and take responsibility for their health.
So, without further ado, the following is what I suggest if you are ready to rationally and realistically evaluate your existing presuppositions about health and nutrition.
1. Ask yourself why you believe what you do about health and nutrition. For example, do you have the belief that eggs are bad for you? Who taught you that, and where did they get their information?
2. Be open to the fact that new research regarding a plethora of health issues abounds. Also be open to the fact that research and evidence has existed for many years that has been deliberately ignored by agencies such as the FDA and AMA (American Medical Association). Take this for example.
3. Have a realistic, basic understanding of how doctors are trained: their schooling is heavily funded and therefore influenced by pharmaceutical companies. This, of course, doesn’t mean that doctors are wicked purveyors of sickness. They aren’t. Most are genuinely concerned for their patients. But, they are indoctrinated and form presuppositions, just like the rest of us. And, they don’t usually realize when they have erroneous presuppositions because of the faith they have placed in their own education. My husband went through Optometry school and can vouch for the legitimacy of this!
5. Change your attitude to that of taking responsibility for your own health instead of blindly trusting doctors or anyone who claims to be an expert. To be clear, I am thankful for doctors and appreciate them! We definitely need them at times, and I’m NOT anti-doctor. I am, however, a strong proponent of individual responsibility when it comes to health decisions.
6. Read to inform yourself, but choose wisely. Lots of people make bold claims. The problem is that often there is not valid or scientific evidence to back it up. Make sure your sources are trustworthy. Compare them to others, find out where their information comes from, and read all sides of an argument before you jump on a bandwagon.
Wondering where to begin learning about the real state of things? Listed below are great places to start! It should be enough mind fodder to last you awhile! Please keep in mind that I don’t agree with 100% of what any source advocates but have found them to be overall helpful and accurate.
Websites and Blogs:
So what do you think? Honest opinions! Are you ready for step 2 tomorrow?