One of the fantastically strange things I’ve realized over the past few years is that you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not speaking the words they are looking for, they will not get what you are saying. That little lightbulb above their head will remain dim, and you will keep getting more & more frustrated with what you perceive to be their stupidity. But it’s not that they’re stupid, it’s just that they are (unconsciously) expecting you to say a certain phrase or explain something in a certain way. (Now this doesn’t preclude the possibility that the person is stupid or not paying attention or whatever. There’s only so much explaining you can do.)

The flip side of this communication difficulty is that if you know what your trigger phrases are, or how you learn, or how you like things explained to you … you can make your way through those communication barriers a lot easier.

One of the things I like about my job is the puzzle & challenge in finding this key way of explaining things that will unlock understanding in a person. But the real reason I’m making this post is that I made a breakthrough today in my understanding of nutrition. Now when I say that, it’s not like I’d spent a whole lot of time researching it before now, so it’s not like I was struggling. But various conversations at lunch today inspired me to look into it a bit more, and … well some web site, I can’t remember which, just flat out put it in terms that I understand and that make sense to me.

The goal of nutrition is to maximize nutrients per calorie, that is, to eat as few calories as possible while still getting all your proteins & riboflavin & whatnot.¬†When I realized that, it’s like a lightbulb went off … now I understand. That makes total sense to me. Additionally, it became like a game. Optimization is something I’m a huge fan of, and now that I know the goal and a few of the rules, some of the puzzle pieces slide out of my way and make it easier for me to, well, eat healthier. Because I’m not just picking up random diet advice like “eat spinach” and doing it — I now understand that spinach has a very high nutrients/calorie ratio, making it an extremely effective thing to eat. Similarly, instead of thinking “don’t eat donuts”, I can say “donuts have a fantastically low, perhaps nonexistent, nutrient/calorie ratio” and go from there.

That goal isn’t everything, of course. There’s definitely more. But now I can start looking out for similar foods and plan accordingly instead of just sifting through the flotsam & jetsam of advice that comes my way and hoping that whatever I latch onto is something useful.

Ah, life.