There’s a phrase I keep hearing over and over that continues to trouble me: “My doctor told me…”

Now, if you have some sort of disease or condition that requires treatment, you’re best advised to listen to your doctor. But, what about when it comes to nutrition, eating habits, exercise, and so on? Do doctors really know anything about that stuff?

The evidence suggests a grim reality: they don’t.

Here’s the first piece of evidence, from NutritionFacts.org. A video titled “Do Doctors Make the Grade?” It’s all about doctors who were actually tested on nutrition and lifestyle modification.

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Now, keep in mind that these tests are all fairly mainstream. Even if the doctors were passing these tests, they’d likely be giving destructive advice. The fact that they’re failing these tests means that they don’t know the first thing about how to help you with diet and lifestyle modification.

Now, there’s no reason to believe they should know what they’re talking about. Why? Because doctors receive a bare-minimum level of education in this area…

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How little? You could basically learn everything the average doctor knows about nutrition…in a weekend.

The real problem here, though, is that the doctors who were surveyed display no lack of confidence in their ability to dispense such advice!

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This has been an ongoing problem for decades. I’ve interviewed a few doctors and nutritionists on my podcast who have corroborated this unfortunate reality.

A compounding issue is that “white coat syndrome” is very real. There’s an anxiety that comes with talking to doctors. There’s also an appeal to authority that can lead you to believe whatever they tell you, especially if the doctor has an authority complex and talks down to you.

Even if you are unsure or even disagree internally, you might feel as though not implementing their advice would be considered “disobedient.” You may implement bad advice simply to appease your doctor and be “in compliance” with his or her orders.

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that *all* doctors should be distrusted when it comes to diet and lifestyle advice. There are many doctors out there who do their own research, who have a detailed understanding of what’s important, and who give great advice. I just want you to be aware that it’s not the norm.

I talk to current and prospective clients all the time who tell me horror stories about advice they were given by their doctor. The latest was a women who was doing a medically supervised weight loss program. The doctor told her to replace her meals with a “medically-designed” meal replacement shake peddled by the doctor (the doc gets kickbacks on sales).

Take a look at what’s in this shake and also note who manufacturers it…

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Nestle? Give me a break.

Bottom line: Don’t trust the diet and lifestyle advice you’re getting just because someone is wearing a white coat. More often than not, they have no idea what they’re talking about.

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Comments

  • Zach Franke says:

    I can certainly attest to this. I have several cousins that are doctors, work locally with the Wellness Director of one of the largest hospitals in Cincinnati (who is acutely aware of the problems mentioned in the article), and recently had this anecdote occur to me. I was working on my laptop at Starbucks and at my table was a large group of med students in their residency at the University of Cincinnati. After some light conversation I mentioned a few of the reasons why prevention is so critical to the future of health care. Thankfully, they all agreed but when pressed for how their schooling is addressing this reality, they had very little to share. One question I had was how much nutritional education do they get? Here’s what happened next…about 4 of them burst out laughing…one rolled her eyes sheepishly and said “not much.” I then asked, well what do you remember from what you studied…a young woman spoke up and interjected…”umm, vitamins?” and they all giggled. You could tell they were slightly embarrassed and had clearly not learned ANYTHING…typical approach in this type of learning setting…cram a bunch of useless (and in the case of nutrition, often WRONG) information down the brain for a couple credit hours and then send them on their way into the trenches of the largest chronic disease catastrophe in history…it’s so unfortunate!

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