Updated: January 2020

For those of us that are old enough to remember the “pre-internet” days, life was much simpler. The internet has made research easier, but too much information and the wrong kind of information – can wreak havoc with our well being. Here are some tips for researching without getting lost in the online noise.

Most diet information is speculation and theories, especially with poorly understood medical conditions, such as food sensitivity. An example is the low histamine diet (see dietary histamine intolerance). Most “facts” about this topic are only educated guesses. Writers often back up their statements with research citations.  Unfortunately, if you look closely at the citations, they rarely support the statement. In most cases, article authors repeat statements they read somewhere else without questioning them.

Some theories may be “true” and may become accepted therapy in the future. But with so many conflicting theories, it is hard to know which ones will stand the test of time.  

Sensational articles draw attention. Articles that promise new cures or warn of lurking dangers grab our attention. I’ve taken a few courses on writing compelling blog articles, and the most common suggestion is to make the article sensational (even if you have to bend the truth). Unfortunately, this adds to the misleading, online noise.

Internet research often leads to haphazard changes.  Many people suffering from food sensitivities bounce from one potential therapy to the next without giving anything a chance to work. They are desperate to find a solution, fast! Slow down and try one thing at a time. In the long run, you will have much better success.

Excess internet research will change your perception of food and your health. Most people start internet research when they have a symptom flare-up and are worried about their health.  In this state, you are more likely to absorb negative information.  If you spend time researching, you will come across something wrong with every food. Eventually, you may get stuck in the Food Fear & Symptom Cycle.

Internet research can be a coping mechanism to distract yourself from anxiety.  Unexplained symptoms cause anxiety because the cause or best treatment is uncertain. We distract ourselves from anxiety and uncomfortable emotions in many ways – drugs, alcohol, shopping, electronics, etc. Internet research can also be a distraction.  Unfortunately, distractions are a temporary solution, but make life more difficult in the long run. Allowing yourself to experience uncomfortable feelings will help you move past them. If you feel overwhelmed, get help from a mental health professional or a supportive friend/family member.

Consider taking a break from internet research. It’s hard to give up internet health research entirely, but periodic breaks can be helpful. For example, if you are trying a new supplement and it will take about six weeks to know if it is helping, take a break from research until the end of the supplement trial.

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