Offering someone health advice is like telling someone their religion is wrong these days. Of course, everyone is a health expert. They watch Dr. Oz or get some quirky advice from a family doctor and feel like they’ve got it all figured out. Try and question this and you’ll see the person’s fangs showing in no time.
My own immediate family has lost respect for me because of this. My father has gout, high blood pressure and a number of other smaller issues. My brother has heart problems and my sister has skin problems. Through careful and proper research I’ve been able to narrow down the root of all their problems. Now, they don’t even want to talk to me anymore because they’re offended that I gave them advice.
The Bike Shed Effect
There’s a phenomenon called the “Bike Shed Effect”. A term I’ve picked up from Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body. Ask someone how to build a bike shed and you’ll get a ton of ideas, even if they’ve never built one. Ask someone to build a nuclear plant and you’ll get no feedback.
To sum it up in a nutshell, the greater the difficulty seems for a given task, the less likely people are to participate. Health and nutrition seem simple enough for people to guess about. After all, you have a shi’t load of information to pull out of a hat and personalize.
Health Advice Makes Enemies
Anytime I’ve given anyone nutritional advice or any tips on improving their health, they look at me like I’m attacking them. “Thanks, but this is what works for me” is usually where the dismissive behavior starts. If I try to question how they’ve gather their information or try to back up my information with science, I’d probably be deleted from their facebook the next day.
Giving health advice is like questioning someone’s political views these days. Health is a hard science and people don’t realize that. Too many people out there don’t practice effective problem solving. It isn’t their fault because our school system doesn’t stress the scientific method of problem solving outside of dissecting frogs and science fairs.
Health is a science. There is no room for emotions, passion or opinions. Personal experiences and observations are reckless tools to form a conclusion from. People have a lot of trouble researching health because there is so much information out there that they don’t know what to believe. They tend to believe whatever they like at the end of the day.
The way to avoid this is to pick up on what makes a study credible or not. This way, people can find consistency out of all the confusion and something solid will finally emerge.
Do yourself a favor and be careful who you offer advice to. I’ve learned to just tell people what I do and if they want to know, they’ll ask. Nothing good will come out of offering advice to a non-responsive recipient.