What the hell gives an uneducated 22 year old the right to take on the Heart Foundation?

So what the hell gives a 22 year old with less than half a law degree the right to share information about nutrition and take on the Heart Foundation? She’s not a scientist, a dietitian a medical doctor or even a nutritionist and she certainly doesn’t have PhD so she should shut the hell up about things she knows nothing about.

Well I will just post what Denise Minger says on her blog http://rawfoodsos.com/about/ because she is so damn eloquent (and sexy and I love her).

“I get this question a lot. It speaks volumes about how we view learning, and why we’ve abandoned personal responsibility for using our own brains when it comes to health. “We can’t possibly understand nutrition if we haven’t paid for a degree! Let’s just trust someone with formal credentials instead of thinking for ourselves.”

First of all, if you believe valid education only happens in a classroom setting, I sure hope you aren’t reading this blog on a computer—since both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were college dropouts without any credentials to work with technology. 

I guess I’ll start by explaining my perspective. I have deep respect for formal learning, and a touch of envy for those who thrive in a traditional school system. Most of my family works in higher education (my dad, a college vice president; my mom, a former biologist who did postgraduate immunology research), and my original aspiration was to teach at the university level. Some good stuff happens there.

But I also believe that—for people who are self-motivated, have the time and resources for independent study, and aren’t learning something like dentistry or surgery that requires hands-on training—that a college education can be wildly inefficient and sometimes a barrier to objective thinking. Teachers, after all, come equipped with their own set of biases—ones students must cater to or even adopt if they want a good grade. (My college Women’s History prof comes to mind. Don’t agree that men are the root of all things evil, fattening, and smelly? Then no “A” for you!) At least in my experience, college fostered an atmosphere where the rewards (high marks, scholarships, making the parents proud) were more pertinent than what was actually learned.

My post-college education strategy has been simple. I approach the field of nutrition like learning a new language: total immersion-style. You didn’t learn your native tongue by sitting in a classroom following grammar lessons; you learned it by jumping into an initially confusing world and feeling your way around until it all started making sense. Every day, I make a conscious effort to surround myself with learning opportunities. I read everything I can get my hands on—from statistics textbooks to scientific papers. I find curricula posted on university websites, copy the lesson plans that look relevant, and acquire the reading material from the library instead of paying thousands of dollars for classroom instruction. If I can’t grasp something on my own, I email or call smart people and ask them to help me. My goal is to understand. I don’t stop digging until I’ve plowed to the bottom and broken my shovel trying to go even deeper.

I believe anything can be learned. I believe passion is the best fuel for knowledge acquisition. I believe the subjects that have personal relevance are the most enticing, intriguing, and fulfilling ones to study. This is why I blog.”

Isn’t she brilliant? I couldn’t agree more. Oh also a medical doctor studies roughly four hours of nutrition for their whole degree and I have personally never met one that understands the importance of food in terms of our health (not to say they don’t exist). A dietitian on the other hand learns straight from the food pyramid and is taught that saturated fats are evil and we need to lower our cholesterol to protect against cardiovascular disease. I’m certainly glad I didn’t have to endure that brainwashing in four years of lectures, funded directly by the processed food industry- what a waste of my life and money that would have been. (Mostly because I don’t actually want to practice as a dietitian, I want to write and speak). Two or three dietitians have signed my petition and they sure as anything didn’t learn about fats and what they know now at University.

(PS I’m nowhere near as smart and well informed as Denise Minger, that girl takes it to the extreme and quite frankly I have a three year old and am pregnant and don’t have time for that), I do however immerse myself in learning A LOT, through my course at IIN but mostly through reading study after study, research paper after research paper, well referenced and researched blogs and sites and many many books of whom the authors have dedicated their lives to understanding and sharing this information.

This doesn’t mean I’ve got it all right, that I know everything there is to know, there is ALWAYS MORE to be learned and one day I will most likely get a PhD as this area fascinates me beyond anything. However not having a formal education in this area doesn’t mean I am excluded from being able to share knowledge with people, have an opinion and question the mainstream advice. I don’t stand on a box lecturing people to take what I say as the complete truth. I simply share what I know which is based on what I believe to be quite a well informed basis. Take it or leave it- that’s up to you. You were also born with a brain, use it.

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