Figure out Food: Eat what works!

No, that’s not the name of my new blog (although it is awfully catchy, isn’t it?), but it sure does capture the spirit of my own approach to nutrition these days.

It’s the name of what I think will be the future of nutrition–an app that helps you figure out what to eat to be healthy by connecting what you eat to how you feel.  Can I get an “It’s about damn time”?

Kenny's app

Wading through the muck of nutrition science and public health, I’ve learned just a few things that I can say with assurance:

1) We know very little about the relationship between diet and prevention of chronic disease.  Somebody tells you that they have a scientifically proven diet for preventing chronic disease?  This person may have a diet, it may even work (as far as we can tell at the moment), but it not going to be scientifically proven because we simply don’t have the science to prove it.  As they say in the biz, our methodology sucks green tomatoes.

2) The focus in public health (and private care) on weight loss is misguided.  Weight loss does not equal health and even if it did, we’re really bad at helping people do it successfully and long-term.  Does weight loss result in better health?  Sometimes.  But is that due to the weight loss per se, or due to whatever metabolic changes had to happen in order for weight loss to occur?  And, truth is, sometimes attempts at weight loss compromise health.  Loss of muscle mass, disordered eating patterns, nutritional deficiencies, restricted lifestyle, hunger, fatigue, general misery and bitchiness–all of these can accompany attempts at weight loss & may cause more problems than they solve.

BUT–and it’s a big but, like it always is–food is really important.  Some foods make us feel satisfied and full of energy and ready to leap over tall buildings with nary a second thought.  Other foods make us Sleepy and Sneezy and Dopey and a few other dwarves that Snow White didn’t meet:  Cranky, Burpy, and Farty.

And foods that make my body happy are not necessarily the ones that make yours happy.

How do we know which foods are which?  

Ta-da!  Kenny Gow to the rescue with a totally cool app that he’s been working on for a while now.

The main thing to know about this app is that it’s about having health now (not about weight loss or disease prevention–see above) and it’s about you (not an aggregate of information from datasets full of people who aren’t you).

I think it’s pretty cool & when I eventually get back to working with patients, I hope this app is there to help me help them.  But–for that to happen, he needs some support from us.

With that in mind, check out his Indiegogo campaign, which I’m about to donate to, as soon as I finish this blog post.

Fist-bump to Gingerzini who beat me to it.





6 thoughts on “Figure out Food: Eat what works!

    1. Or something like that 🙂

      After years of being ignored by surly teenagers (my children & my students), I’m just thrilled someone actually takes me up on my suggestions.

      1. Well, I think it’s a great idea. One thing all those stupid years of trying different diets and logging my food did for me, is show me the connection between what I eat and how I feel (both emotionally and physically). Low-fat diet causes depression (for me). Grains make my joints hurt. Dairy gives me a headache. Too much salt or sugar makes me feel squirrelly and anxious. Armed with that knowledge, I can choose what I’m going to eat. Sometimes pizza is worth the aching knees and anxiety 🙂 I’ve often wondered whether mood disorders (if that’s the right phrase) could be better treated with a change in diet. It’s a lot easier for a doctor to prescribe a pill than do the kind of in-depth work to figure that out. With an app like this, I suspect a lot of people will be able to find those kind of connections and treat themselves, with food instead of medication.

        1. I’m not in favor of food angst and obsessing about diet micromanagment, but since clearly the Dietary Guidelines have to go (hear that giant flushing sound in the distance?), the next question is: what do we tell people now? I think this is a good place to start.

    1. Ah but a different sort of self-surveillance. No quantified metrics, all qualitative. No exterior benchmarks, all subjective. I guess if we are going to self-monitor (and I think we are), why not do it in a way that allows us to “make meaning” rather than “receive knowledge”?

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