Food for thought: For most questions the answer is “it depends”

A person concerned with her weight recently asked me and another dietitian how much avocado she could eat per day. As always, my answer was “it depends”. Without a context (what does her current diet look like, does she have any medical conditions, what is her metabolism like, etc.) it’s impossible to answer that type of question with a round (or decimal) number.

This reminded me of something that happened more than 10 years ago. I had lost some weight and some girls at work started eating apples with lemon juice (on top of their normal diet) because someone had seen me squeezing lemon juice on an apple (most likely to prevent oxidation) and they assumed that that was the key to weight loss. A great example of how correlation does not mean causation.

Most people are after the magic pill, the ultimate superfood, or the perfect supplement; the ultimate shortcut to optimal health or body composition. The problem is that health is incredibly complex and, in addition, a moving target. I prefer to approach health as a continuum rather than a binary switch. The same principle can apply to foods and lifestyle choices, which are typically more or less healthy for a particular person than an alternative, and not necessarily “healthy” or “unhealthy” per se. My “healthy” can be your “junk”, or vice-versa.

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