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6. Automatic behaviors

From the minute you were born, you began performing three automatic behaviors: you slept, you ate, and you expelled your waste products . . . often while you were sleeping. You didn't need to think about these actions, and you didn't have to decide to do them.

You also didn't need to make choices about where to sleep, what to eat, or when to go to the bathroom. Life was so easy back then.

Now that you're older, these actions, particularly the eating part, are anything but automatic. You make numerous decisions every day about what to eat, and you make these decisions for reasons that you may not even be aware of.

If your dietary advice comes from media sound bites, you may get constantly conflicting information. Yesterday's news flash announced that eating more protein would help you fight a bulging waist. Last week's headline boldly announced you should minimize trans fats in your diet to avoid a heart attack.

This morning, the TV news lead was a health report advising you to eat more whole grains to live longer, but to hold the line on sodium, otherwise your blood pressure may go up.

Though you may find it frustrating that dietary advice seems to change with the daily news (though it actually doesn't), this bombardment of nutrition news is a positive thing. You are lucky to live in an era when so much is known and being discovered about what you eat and how it affects you.

Today's research validates what nutrition professionals have known for decades: Nutrition plays an invaluable role in your health.

As with any science, nutrition is not stagnant.

Exciting discoveries will continue to be made about the roles that diet and foods play in keeping you healthy. Let's find out more about nutrition, why it's so important to your health, and how you can identify sound sources of nutrition information.

We'll start with the basic concept of why you eat and how this affects your nutrition.



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