The other day, I was sitting in a coffee shop doing some work between my nutrition education classes at a local hospital, when I heard a conversation that made me want to gouge my eyeballs out. This conversation was between two women – one was a bride getting ready for her wedding; the other was what appeared to be her wedding planner. I swear I am not some eavesdropping creeper – I forgot my headphones that day and the conversation was impossible to ignore.
The bride and her planner discussed her colors, the flowers, her bridesmaids, and the groom. Then the conversation fell on the dress. I heard the wedding planner say, “well you don’t want to gain any more weight, so I can give you all of my nutrition tips and tricks. Naturally, my ears perked up and I started listening a little harder.
The woman went on to tell the bride that she should cut out all fat a month out from the wedding and no carbohydrates two weeks out. And she pretty much told her to not eat at all the 2 days before…. I was astounded! And the poor bride was hanging onto every word.
This is not the only time I overhear terrible nutrition advice. The grocery store, the gym, the tire place – it feels like we cannot get away from diet talk. So how is the public supposed to know when they are actually getting good nutrition information?
- Google does not contain all the correct or safest information. If you use Google Scholar on the other hand, you are going to get some good solid research and peer reviewed information.
- Websites that end in .com are not going to give you the most credible information. Use .org or .edu websites that are backed by research and science.
- Documentaries are a good way to get scared into cutting out every food group. If you watch one, make sure to do research on both sides of the argument, in order to make the most educational guess for yourself!
- Soccer mom Suzy is probably not the best resource if she has been on every fad diet out there and gained all the weight back. It is best to work with a health professional, like a registered dietitian, who can work with you on a personalized approach to health and healing.
Why is it best to seek out a dietitian for nutrition support? Registered dietitians have a 4-5-year undergraduate degree in dietetics and most have a master’s degree in a nutrition-related subject. In fact, starting in 2024, to become a registered dietitian, students must obtain a master’s degree. To become a dietitian, a student must also complete a 1200-hour dietetic internship and pass a boards examination. Many dietitians also hold special certifications in their area of specialty. For example, I am a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. There are also certified diabetes educators, certified eating disorders dietitians, certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and many more.
In addition, in most states registered dietitians are licensed. The goal of licensure is to protect the public in that state. Licensing dietitians assures the public that individuals giving nutrition advice have the appropriate education and experience to do so. Individuals seeking nutrition advice who are medically compromised deserve the assurance that the individual treating them has the necessary education and experience. Licensure laws protect the public from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals who portray themselves as nutrition experts and who could potentially give out harmful or damaging advice.
My advice? Seek out a health professional for all medical needs, including nutrition, not your unqualified wedding planner. Talk about flowers and table pieces all you want, but leave the medical talk between you and your health care team.