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Determining a Healthy Diet

A little bacon won't kill you. Or will it?

Americans are once again left scratching their heads about what they should and shouldn't be eating after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced last Monday that consuming red meat, including processed meat like bacon, could cause cancer. Google is just as confused, offering millions of search results, including an article called "Why You Should Never Eat a Bacon Sandwich" followed by "The Top 10 Reasons Bacon is Healthy for You."

Bacon isn't alone on the chopping block. WHO, together with their International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), defined processed meat as any meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation like hotdogs, sausage, ham, corned beef and beef jerky.

In recent years, canned food has also raised cancer concerns because of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA). Cancer Treatment Centers of America lists BPA as an environmental risk factor on its website and advises people to cut down on eating canned foods to minimize the risk.

With health guidelines changing, contradictory diet fads and what seems like a new weight loss product advertised on TV every day, Kimberly Evans, MS, RD, CD, says it's easy for her to see how people get so confused. Evans, who co-owns Whole Health Nutrition in Williston, Vt., believes in moderation and an individualized approach for her clients. "As a dietitian my biggest fear is that all of that confusion makes people toss in the towel and not even try to focus on why diet matters in terms of their health," she said.

A prime example of that confusion is trying to understand the paleo or "caveman diet" that has books, blogs and even some restaurants solely dedicated to the meat-heavy meal plan.

"There's a lot of misinformation there," said Robyn Kievit Kirkman, NP, RD, CSSd, CEDRD, who runs a successful nutrition website and counsels clients out of two Boston-area offices. "The people that I've seen who do follow a Paleo diet are eating a ton of bacon, processed foods, a lot of fat, and no whole grain-none. And so that's a problem because if they're a cross-fitter and they're super active they need some carbohydrates."

SEE ALSO: Targeting Nutrition Deficits

Those meat eaters did get one thing right though-they consulted with someone who's qualified.

"Do not look at nutrition advice from anybody who is not a dietitian," Kievit Kirkman advised. "Make an informed decision here. If you want the top nurse in the hospital who's in charge of PICC lines to put in one for you or your husband or your daughter, where are you going to look for nutrition information?"

Registered dietitians like Evans and Kievit Kirkman are the food and nutrition experts that the public can turn to when the next health topic starts trending on Twitter.

"I think that our job as dietitians is always to help people find the middle ground and to help people figure out what to do with the information," Evans said. It's really helping people extract the information and then applying it to their way of life, their food preferences, their culture and their lifestyle in a way that really works for them." A person getting enough exercise for example who's mindful of what kind of food they put into their bodies would most likely be fine to indulge in a hotdog once a week or have a slice of bacon at Sunday brunch. That might not be the best choice though for someone diagnosed with obesity or high blood pressure.

To stay up-to-date on accurate health and nutrition information, Kievit Kirkman recommends following or liking social media profiles that have the "RD" credential next to their name and purging the rest to clear up any confusion. Recommended accounts to follow are @cooking_light, @EatingWell, @MyPlate, @EatRight and @KidsEatRight.

Chelsea Lacey-Mabe is a staff writer at ADVANCE. Contact:

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Nice an article from a "dietician." The USDA Food Pryamid has the same proportion as fat/protein/carbs as the food plan for fattening livestock. Keep eating your low-ranking plant resources and you will be fat and well buttered. We evolved during an ice age. Do you think we were eating a lot of domesticated and selectively bred plant foods throughout the last ice age? Nope.

Joe BlowNovember 02, 2015


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