You can find tons of nutrition information readily available on the internet, from websites selling miracle cures to Dr. Google and any social media platform. But, is the information accurate and reliable? Will XYZ approach help you to lose weight? or improve your health?
Using a supplement and/or following an approach that does not individualize your particular lifestyle, preferences, and journey is not usually sustainable for the long term.
There is no one diet that is the best!
There is no food that is the best!
There is no one way of eating!
What should a person do?
Follow an approach that has a realistic goal that incorporates the physical and emotional connection to food and satisfaction, which also includes your ability to socialize, individualize and enjoy food. Live by my motto “There’s Always Room for Ice Cream and Chocolate!”
Nutrition can be complicated
If you are confused with all the media claims, social media messages, diets your friends and family are following, you are not alone. It seems that almost everyone claims to know the “best” way to achieve XYZ. I heard a RD colleague quote that 50% of what we see on the internet is inaccurate and I am willing to bet that is true!
Be cautious with taking advice
Tips for analyzing nutrition advice:
- Is the approach or product something you could do for the rest of your life and not miss out on fun holiday experiences?
- Who is providing this information? Bloggers and influencers are often getting paid to provide information to influence people to purchase a product. While this may not in itself be a red flag, you want to make sure the information meets the additional criteria outlined below.
- Does this person have extensive training in nutrition and the ability to read original published scientific research about XYZ product from independent 3rd party sources? When looking at research findings, it is important to understand research limitations and be cautious about drawing conclusions.
- Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, which means they could just be a person interested in nutrition, a nutrition student, a health coach, or it could be a registered dietitian.
- A registered dietitian has extensive training in food science and medical nutrition therapy with an internship, and a minimum of a 4-year degree.
- RD’s are required and bound by a code of ethics and required to complete extensive continual training.
- Is this person selling you something? i.e. Why do they want you to believe their claims?
- Is the approach one that restricts large food groups?
- Does the approach promise a quick fix and appear to solve all of your problems?
- Does the product, approach, or person take into account any medications, diagnosis, and family history you have?
- Does the approach require you to buy a special product that is not easily found from other sources?
- Does it sound too good to be true?
Here's an example:
A Facebook advertisement pops up with a person claiming to have found the solution for stubborn belly fat that will have you back to your high school weight by following this one simple practice.” Take this product that research shows will help you improve your health.”
A few points consider when evaluating this claim.
- Find out more about who this person/company is and why they posted this ad. For sure they are trying to sell something, which is not wrong, shoot, I am trying to sell services and courses also.
- Research and evaluate what the advertisement claims. You can find any study to prove a point and validate an approach but the real questions to consider are:
- Has the study been duplicated?
- Is the study published in a peer-reviewed publication?
- What are the other factors involved in the outcomes of the study?
- What are the contraindications? Many approaches can be dangerous for a person, especially if there is a medical diagnosis (example- a no-carb diet and Diabetes.)
- When looking at research findings, it is important to understand research limitations and be cautious about drawing conclusions.
- If the approach removes large food groups, you could be missing out on key nutrients needed for long-term health, not to mention the enjoyment of some of your favorite foods.
- There is no magic bullet. Anything that promises a quick fix, is not realistic.
- Getting back to a high school weight is getting back to the body of a child.
- Our bodies were made to change throughout our lives, i.e. women get more weight around hips and abdomen for normal reproductive functioning.
- As we age, we need a little more fat to help protect our bodies from falls and produce our natural hormones to carry us through our bodies change as we age, i.e. menopause.
- Sure, plans and products can be used for a short period of time and may even produce temporary weight loss, but what happens when you go off of the approach? What are the potential side effects of taking the products?