I am absolutely horrified by a lot of the nutrition information out there. The recommendations of a dietitian extend far beyond our beliefs and helping a person cut out refined foods and sugar, leading to weight loss. When you tell someone they are doing something wrong, that ignites fear into a person, and that can have psychological consequences leading to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. We as nutrition professionals study psychology and counseling techniques for this very reason. Whatever we say can have an effect on our clients, so its not just about the quick fix and losing weight. When I speak with my client, I get as much information as I can and when I give advice, I ask myself if the information I am about to give them could help or hinder them, based on others stressors or issues going on in their life.
All over social media there is anger against qualified professionals professionals giving out nutrition advice, yes, anger against dietitians. First off, I am not paid off by any sort of big food company and I am not told what to say by the USDA. Some of those comments I hear are absurd. When someone comes to me and they want to lose wight, but they drink maybe 5 sodas a day, I would not recommend they cut soda completely out. I would recommend they go down to 4 sodas a day, then 3, and so on. Yes, there are some health issues with consuming soda, but I am not going to tell someone to stop a habit over night, especially if they have had this habit for years. When we change too much, clients get frustrated and then may not be motivated to change anything.
Many unqualified professionals post messages online to their followers about the foods they are consuming. Then people start to feel shame, for not following the perfect life or diet that these unqualified professionals do. The psychological harm that this can cause can actually be worse than the foods they are telling us not to eat. The frightening thing is, these people have no idea this is not how you educate the public on nutrition. They know what foods to avoid and they scare the public, but knowing what foods to avoid is not a sign of how knowledgeable one is about nutrition.
Right now, fear mongering is everywhere in the nutrition world. It sells books, eating plans, and it even gets you your own TV show, and going against the norm apparently makes someone appear knowledgeable. It conveys the sense they have done extensive research and they are "exposing the truth." In fact, it is the exact opposite, and highlights their lack of knowledge. I do not doubt that a lot of these celebrities and unqualified professionals have a deep passion for helping people live a healthy life, but its not enough to simply have a passion for the subject of nutrition and educate people to their way of eating. Their personal views need to be put aside for the health of society.
So what is the point of this post? Because many individuals out there are giving out very very bad nutrition advice that can actually cause harm. I went to university for 10 years, received a B.S. in Nutrition & Exercise Science, a B.S. in Dietetics, Completed a 900 hour internship, Passed a National Exam to become a Registered Dietitian, and took the NSCA Personal Training exam. I did the work because I want to be the best I can be in the field of nutrition. Am I jealous there are many people out there that are famous even without a qualification? No. It is because there is so much to learn about nutrition, and with all the education I have, I feel there is still more to learn. It is frightening that some of these unqualified professionals have a read a few nutrition books and websites, and they are not even aware of what they do not know. We all eat food, but that does not mean we are all nutrition experts.
There are a lot of great social media accounts from many individuals out there giving out nutrition advice, but they know where to draw the line, and that is the difference. When reading nutrition information, always look for a source and see what qualifications they hold. If you look at my website, I state exactly what qualifications I have, because honestly, I have nothing to hide. Remember this: a professional will not judge or shame; will not tell you to eat their way; will not tell you all the bad things you are doing; will not scare you into eating healthy; and will not make you feel guilty.
Source: Katz, David. M.D., (2013). Opinion Stew. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/nutrition-advice_b_3061646.html
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