Guest Post: On Picking Battles

Hi folks! It's TNBDM here with a guest blog for today. I was inspired to write about this by a recent Facebook exchange. As with most people, I have Facebook friends who are all over the spectrum when it comes to diet and nutrition -- some low-carbers, some who are health-conscious but choose other paths, many who don't pay much attention to health -- and even some who I know don't want to hear from me at all when it comes to these issues. Among the health-conscious, there are some who will eat up any new information on low-carbing, others who simply will not countenance the idea that eating "all that fat" won't "make you fat." And then there those who are in between -- willing to embrace some new LCHF-related information, but only up to a point. That's okay! Around our place, Dana and I have a saying, which is "information, not enforcement." It is counter-productive to browbeat people, and it's not very conducive to making and keeping friends. And I like friends!

Anyway, it's that third category of people that can be the trickiest to work with, because you often just don't know how far you can go before hitting that wall. Sometimes they will give you signals, but not always. I have a Facebook friend, whom I have never met, but know through another friend. I like her a lot -- she's a bit edgy and definitely opinionated. (Gee, who'd have thought I would find that appealing?) She posts interesting things, and I often comment on them. I know she is health-conscious, and good on her for that! This morning, she posted about the fact that she was severely cutting the sugar out of her diet, and was using Truvia. (Good stuff, Truvia.) Natually, that grabbed my attention, and I started reading through the comments. Inevitably, someone mentioned agave nectar, and I had to speak up. Agave is very high in fructose -- considerably higher, in fact, than HFCS, and it is rarely necessary to convince anyone about the dangers of HFCS. They get it, and the "more HF than HFCS" angle often works. I went on about how glucose can be used as fuel, but fructose is converted by the liver into triglycerides, which in turn get stored as fat. She had not been aware of that, and thanked me for the information.

I should have known not to mention honey. blush

Honey, sad to say, is similar -- closer to table sugar than to HFCS or agave, but still more fructose than glucose. It's processed "naturally," but it's still processed, and it is still highly concentrated sugar. (And remember that Mother Nature put bees around honey.) Like agave, it's trendy, but not the healthful alternative to sugar that people think it is. "Not my locally-raised raw honey!" And anyway, "glycemic impact means little unless you are diabetic -- even then, calories are calories."

Ah, the old "caloric equivalence" theme! Here was someone who had, just minutes before, accepted the idea that fructose and glucose, both simple sugars, react differently in the body. And yet, the difference between a sugar calorie and a fat calorie? No difference -- a calorie is a calorie. Danger, quickly approaching wall!

I, wisely, decided to step back from that one. Dana and I have both been at this long enough to know when to stop, when "offering" information starts to sound like enforcement, or at least being way too pushy. We're not food-nazis.

Don't browbeat people. Watch for the signals. Pick your battles.

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Well said :)

This is something I've really had to learn... I honestly don't mind what choices people make for themselves, even if they're ones I believe to be unhealthy, but it does drive me crazy when I know they're doing so without all the information, or believing stuff that simply isn't true. It especially breaks my heart when I know friends or family are going out of their way to eat healthy, but are eating exactly the opposite of what I know to actually *be* healthy, particularly when they're suffering for it.

But even when I know people don't have the right information to go on, I've gotten to the point of doing as you say and realising it's not worth getting into a big, stressful debate about, and also acknowledging that there was quite a bit of swerving and skepticism on my path even after I first heard about low carb before I got to where I am with the knowledge I have today. And truthfully, I'm still growing and learning and honing that knowledge every day.

So now, like you, I do my best to offer information only up to the point of resistance, and then let it go, and hope that people will find what they need along whatever path life takes them on. I still post low carb articles copiously, though; I know most people on my list don't even bother to read them, but I also know that seeing enough headlines saying the same things, including ones from bigger media outlets that they might give more credence to, may just plant seeds as they were planted for me, so that when they later hear or read something similar under different circumstances, they might just give it a bit more consideration. It's my compromise between not forcing anything down anyone's throat, and making what I feel is extremely important information available to those who are ready and willing, or even just curious and/or open-minded enough to give it consideration. :)