There is misinformation everywhere.
In the nutrition world, there is a plethora of incorrect information and just bad science. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), I completed a Bachelor's of Science with a major in Nutrition and Public Health Nutrition (this includes biology, chemistry biochemistry, food science with labs, anatomy and physiology to name a few sciences!), a Master's in Public Health, a supervised nutrition internship, passed the national board exam, and every year have to have 15 hours of continuing education in my area of expertise in different nutrition specialties. This is ALOT of schooling and studying, not to mention the other specialties of nutrition (pediatrics, diabetes, sports nutrition, nutrition fellow, ect), that require even more testing, hours and commitment to studying. So if you think you are confused about what's out there on the internet and in magazines, just think I have over 15 years experience and still think it can be daunting information. RDNs are nutrition experts. There are many online nutrition certification programs that allow people to call themselves nutritionists after completing the courses. Some are more rigorous than others, however none are like the RDN nutrition and dietetics courses of study.
The other evening, I had a patient ask me about a few weight loss programs and products being offered in our area. Keep in mind this patient does not have many financial resources, is a busy parent, and works full-time. They were inquiring about the $3200 weight loss program that provided "magic drops" and guaranteed weight loss. Here's my thoughts on these types of programs/centers:
I will guarantee you when you walk into our nutrition and weight management centers, we do not sell you any products. This is what sets us apart. There is no financial gain from pushing a vitamin, supplement or test. Don't get me wrong, we do recommend these things (especially if there is a nutrition deficiency or medical condition that warrants such things as a vitamin, test or probiotic), however there is no one product that is a gold standard or superior than the other. If you are seeking nutrition advice and that advice comes at a very costly package with products, WALK AWAY. If the health claim they are promising sounds too good to be true (lose 30 pounds in 30 days), WALK AWAY. If it was really that easy to lose weight, and keep it off, wouldn't that product or service be on the cover of TIME Magazine? I'm not saying these gimmicks, services or products don't work. I'm sure some of them do. But what did you gain from it? Did you learn how to plan healthy meals, cook healthier (or just how to cook), role model good behaviors for your kids, improve long time chronic diseases, or improve your quality of life? Or did you just spend a lot of money on something that worked "for a little bit"?
RDN's have to be licensed in your state and most insurances cover 100% without a copay. Often no money out of pocket what so ever is handled in our office. Think about that? Nutrition advice covered by your health insurance? Sounds legit to me and without the costs of meals, shakes, vitamins and supplements.
Confused about misinformation on the internet relating to nutrition? Give us a call or email, we will straighten you out!
The Dieting Dietitian
Jennifer Barr, MPH, RDN, LDN