Often times and for many people, the Internet replaces doctors and you find yourself dealing with patients who have already diagnosed themselves, conceived their very own trendy nutrition plan with the help of Google, bloggers endorsed by food companies, Dr. Oz or even chefs who have taken their passion for food a bit too far. While it may seem right to use and make the most out of online resources that are so easy to access, it is just wrong to follow dietary advice from someone who has no scientific studies in the field. This is why we thought it would be useful to write up an article that will help people go in the right direction.
Nowadays, when people have a problem, they turn on their computer or smartphone to Google it and try fix it without investing too much time, spending too much money and without too much effort. While this may work at times (in cases where the problem is not serious) the strategy proves harmful when people use it to change their eating habits. Why? Because each living organism is different and has its own particularities. Nutrition is no exception. What worked for someone, might not work for you. Genetics, lifestyle, health condition, diet, amount of exercise—these are just some of the things that need to be taken into account when making a nutrition change aimed at improving one’s health.
A lot of talk, no facts
Countless popular vlogs or article blogs on the benefits of a certain diet, the healing powers of a plant-based nutrition and the efficiency of dietary supplements only prove that there is a lot of interest for this particular topic. Most content creators just take advantage of people looking to improve their health and lose weight by offering them advice based merely on personal experience, books and (sometimes questionable) scientific studies.
While for some it’s a matter of common sense to not put their health at risk and follow the lead of an unqualified blogger, others just go with the flow and take what they are served without thinking about the consequences. It’s no secret that some bloggers have come under scrutiny for their controversial advice and for marketing products and diets without any scientific data to back it up. Many just leverage the fact that their followers are not informed and don’t take the time to do any kind of research.
Famous doesn’t mean qualified
Just because someone is well-known, has an impressive following on social media or has appeared on TV, doesn’t mean they are qualified. Even the famous Dr. Oz has faced criticism for advertising dietary supplements without offering any proof on their efficiency (this topic is worth discussing separately). Most of these online influencers don’t have any qualifications in the field and others display diplomas certifying courses that don’t stretch further than a couple of months. In comparison, you need to study at least three years for a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Also, the studies are just the basis of it all. You need to add experience and periodical courses, programs to stay on track and make sure you are up to date with everything that is going on in the field.
If you haven’t been to a nutritionist yet, know that it is all a personalized process. You will have tests done to reveal certain indicators that will help the nutritionist create the best meal plan for you and help you feel better and reach your goals. The strategy is aimed to provide medium- to long-term results. The process involves regular check-ups and lots of motivation and determination from your side. This kind of approach is what you should expect if you choose to see a nutritionist or dietitian.
How to spot an impostor
If you have a weight problem, an eating disorder or you are just looking to improve your health, a nutritionist or registered dietitian can help. However, there are some reputed nutritionists that have blogs and really interesting social media pages. These would be a good source of information and a great place to start the journey of a healthier lifestyle. So, if you do decide to go online for advice or even online consultations, make sure you ask yourself the following questions, which we found on What About Health. This way, you have more chances in finding the nutrition specialists you really need.
Who is giving me the nutrition advice?
- What qualifications do they actually have (if any)? Are they relevant qualifications to the advice they are giving me?
- Do they refer to any scientific studies to back up their advice?
- Does it advise me to cut out complete food groups? (usually a bad sign)
- How does this advice compare to the National Dietary Advice of my country?
- What do they have to gain by me following their advice? (If they can gain financially from the advice they’re giving, be wary!)