Is everybody an expert?

Here’s the thing. Now that we all have the ability to post and publish information, we’re all experts on some sort of topic. Everyone has an insight or a perspective that nobody else has, and when it comes to nutrition it seems like everybody has the quick fix. There’s the paleo diet and juice cleanses. Should you cut out gluten? Do organic and non-gmo even matter?

In the field of nutrition, the recognized expert is a Registered Dietitian. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Some RDNs may call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitian nutritionists. The definition and requirements for the term “nutritionist” vary. Some states have licensure laws that define the range of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can call him- or herself a “nutritionist” regardless of education or training.”

Here’s what you can know when you’re looking at information from a Registered Dietitian: he or she has gone through rigorous training deeply rooted in science (chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry), he or she has completed an internship accredited through the ACEND which includes supervised hours in areas of medical nutrition, community nutrition, and food service management, and he or she has passed the national exam by Commission on Dietetic Registration. These guys and girls know their stuff! Of course, this doesn’t mean that they all have the same view regarding a specific diet or food trend, but their opinions are shaped by all of the knowledge they’ve acquired through their education.

When we’re searching the internet for health information, it’s easy to jump on the newest trend, and social media has made this an even easier trap to fall into. There are always an array of beautiful food pictures, celebrities coming out with their diet tips, and food packaging that is alluring and health-looking. Here’s a little marketing insight from an almost marketing grad: companies know you, and they know me. They know many of us are in search of healthy options, so they choose colors (earthy looking), words (organic, non-gmo, gluten free), and packaging (simple and trendy) that will attract those of us who want to choose healthy.

Because misinformation is everywhere, here are three tips from nutrition classes I’ve taken and three resources I’d love for you to try!

Easy Tips:

1 // Read ingredient lists. Look for a short list with ingredients you can actually pronounce. This takes a little more time, but when you take a second to do it, you will be amazed and probably a little grossed out at what’s actually in a lot of foods.

2 // Lower calorie isn’t necessarily healthier. A 100 calorie pack of chips is going to be less filling and less nutritious than a serving of almonds. Instead of focusing on how many calories you’re eating, focus on what nutrients you’re getting!

3 // Balance. Balance. Balance. This cannot be said enough. When you’re looking at changing your diet, be very wary of anything that tells you to cut out an entire food group. Balance goes both ways; you never want too much of a specific food group, and you definitely don’t want too little. Eat it all in moderation–fruits, veggies, whole grains, and even some sweets!

Dietitian Blogs:

1 // Fannetastic Food by Anne Mauney, MPH, RD

2 // The Real Life RD by Robyn Coale, RD

3 // Healthfully Ever After by Carlene Thomas, RD

Social media and the accessibility of information have changed how we get our information and who we get it from, so nowadays, it is especially important to be aware of who you’re listening to! Make this week a good one, and let me know your thoughts!

——> Special shoutout to Krista Whitfield, a dietetics major and good friend here at UGA for proofreading this post and helping me determine what nutrition tips we’ve found most helpful.

For more information about Registered Dietitians and the process of becoming one, visit the ACEND website!

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2 thoughts on “Is everybody an expert?

  1. You definitely made a great point of everyone assuming expertise on a subject due to the vast array of information the internet has made readily available. Even more troubling is the amount of subjects this dilemma extends to, with people assuming they have a full understanding of such issues as health, exercise and sport training, and even diagnosis based on a few articles or webpages they may have scoured through. It is wonderful that everyone now has the same access to information, it just needs to be understood that more is required to truly understand a subject other than skimming a few articles or glazing over Wikipedia.

    On another note, the three tips you provided seem to be an excellent spring board for those interested in learning more about adequate food and nutrition information. However for the most reliable information, those with serious inquiries should approach a professional or true expert in the subject, especially before partaking in any diets or supplements recommended online.

    • Hey Raed! I totally agree that information accessibility is a wonderful part of living in this decade, and it does require us to be more cautious and thoughtful about who we listen to. The three links I included are great resources for expert information, and they each have a dietetics private practice. All of our bodies are different, so it is very important to have one on one consultations for any specific or medical concerns.

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