Nutrition in the Media: Fact or Phony?
“Nutrition is a science. Registered Dietitians (RD or RDNs) alone have the knowledge, the skills, the background, the established standards of practice and the ongoing continuing education requirements to be people’s most reliable source of nutrition-related advice and services.”
– Donna Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, 2017-2018)
One reason I really wanted to start a blog was to be the “voice of reason” in this diet-crazed internet world. I started blogging during undergrad on Tumblr. I loved sharing bits and pieces as I learned new information and skills. I received positive feedback on how my information was used and helped others.
Now, I have a degree and success applying my knowledge to positively impact my lifestyle and others around me. This allows me to connect with those individuals who want one-on-one nutrition counseling, and to provide them with a plan to meet their individual needs.
Pop Quiz: 1. Have you ever tried a miracle diet or insert number of day detox? 2. Have you ever read an article about how a food that humans have eaten for centuries is awful and killing you slowly, and now you’re terrified to eat _______? 3. Have you ever gone on a diet and lost weight quickly, then gained the weight back? 4. How much money have you spent on diet “material” sold on the internet not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or reviewed by a dietitian (supplements, powders, books, pills, programs, etc.)? 5. Is the article written by a person without specified credentials, or the product is sold without factual, scientific evidence?
Did you say “Yep!” to more than one question? Don’t even add up the dollar amount in your head, #4 was a rhetorical question. If you said yes to more than one, do not feel ignorant or shamed, that was not the purpose. You can have a PhD or be the CEO of a million-dollar company and still fall for nutrition myths.
We all have different jobs for a reason. I will be the first person to tell you I do not know anything about developing software, engineering, or dermatology. Therefore, I do not give people advice on any of those topics. I understand nutrition is different because everyone eats, and therefore everyone feels they must be an expert if they do the act everyday. However, that fact just makes a dietitian of more importance, not less.
As a registered dietitian, I am aware the misleading information and faulty products are out there. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about that. What I can do, is the opposite, spreading my knowledge and trained skill set for nutrition and the human body. If the incorrect information is out there, I want the correct information out there as well. It scares me. Not for the sake of my profession, but for the sake of all the individual's health and the damage wrong information can do to one's physical and mental well-being. I've seen it far too many times.
The spread of incorrect dietary information is actually demanding more out of my profession. This is shown by the damage done to a teenager who followed a diet found on social media which lead to an eating disorder that needed intense nutrition therapy. The athlete who was suffering from infertility because they were following a plan not being overlooked by a professional. The child with malnutrition that resulted in delayed mental and physical growth because they were not allowed certain foods. The frail, elder who does not have the energy to sit up in bed, but is scared to drink whole milk because of the fat content. THESE people are just a snapshot, but they are who lead me to write a post on this topic.
- There are helpful, informational, and factual articles out there, you just have to know how to find them! Below is a checklist you can use to help maneuver through the “junk” of the internet.
1. Look for the article source/author’s name. Are there credentials to explain the validity of their information?
2. How old is the article? Nutrition is science, and science changes as we discover more information. This is why dietitians need continuing education hours to keep their credentials and stay in practice. If it is more than five years old, there is probably more current research on the topic.
3. Are they trying to sell you a product? Does the one product cure all your problems? Better yet, are the names “Miracle” or “Magic” used on the product name? If all three, run! 😉
4. There are a lot of ways to make information sound all scientific, but there should be citations or resources for proof. Are testimonials like “I bought this pill and now all my problems are solved.”, or, “You need to buy this product if you want to look like this model.” the only validation for their product? If that existed on Earth, we would all be super-humans.
- Here are some examples of factual information found on the internet:
Why? References/citations to where they got the information is listed. Credentials are listed after the author’s name.
Why? The article was posted within five years, which is recent for research. Citations are cited within article, and references are listed at bottom to find where their information was received.
Why? Published by a national organization, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The article was written by a registered dietitian (RD). The article is up-to-date being posted in 2014.
Is there a topic you would like me to cover? Comment or message your request!