Have you ever followed diet advice from someone online? How would you feel if I told you that eight times out of nine this advice is wrong?1
For years social media has flourished, with no guidelines monitoring whether someone is qualified to be giving us dietary advice. We are being inundated with information on diet culture and sometimes unknowingly that can honestly be dangerous for our health. Worryingly, Sainsbury’s Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well report found that nearly a quarter (21%) of young people refer to social media influencers for information on healthy eating.2
Why is it so important?
The consequences of following the lives of influencers can be extremely damaging. Whilst we are yet to understand the full impact social media is having on our mental health, research is already showing that children who spend more than three hours on social media a day, are more than twice as likely to show symptoms of mental illness.3,4
In terms of our physical health, nutritional misinformation is even more concerning. Following some diets can leave you deficient in a whole range of vitamins and minerals so it is crucial that all the information about the diets are shared and understood. Let’s use the example of a vegan diet, whilst it can be healthy when done properly, considerations need to be taken as to what supplements are required due to deficiencies in; Vitamin B12, Omega 3, Iron and Iodine.5 If we look at more extreme diets, there can be exclusions of entire food groups, not only are these diets unsustainable in the long-run, but they can leave you with little energy, dizziness and even put you at risk of severe deficiencies like anaemia.6 The same pattern can be seen in products that are marketed for weight loss, ‘quick fixes’ are never a healthy option and can affect both your mental and physical health.
Just as I once did, I would like you to consider unlearning everything you thought you knew about nutrition. Try to start with a fresh outlook on exploring what will work best for you as an individual. With an enthusiastic mindset and a belief in the power of positive nutrition, I can show you the difference between feeling merely okay and feeling on top of the world. And whatever anyone tells you, optimum nutrition is ultimately about eating with pleasure and without shame.
What we put on our plates and how we use our bodies are the most powerful tools we have for maintaining good health. However, with a minefield of supposedly authoritative resources each providing their own take on a nutritional education, there is little wonder increasing numbers are seeking private nutritional advice, but who can you really trust?
What’s worse is that literally anyone can set themselves up to offer nutritional advice, answerable to nobody, and trying to find the legitimate practitioners can be a confusing process. The wide variety of practitioners offering nutritional advice is overwhelming, and it doesn’t help that they use so many different terms to describe what they do. From Health Coaches and Diet Experts to Dietitians and Nutritionists, it can be very confusing to understand who's actually fully qualified.
When deciding to take nutritional advice from individuals or companies there are particular qualifications that ensure the work is evidence based and is bound by a code of conduct from a professional body.
Registered Nutritionists (ANutr and RNutr): should be a member of the government-approved Association for Nutrition (AFN). They should hold a BSc and/or MSc in Nutrition as a result of an accredited course. Whilst the name ‘Nutritionist’ is unprotected legally, membership to this association ensures you are bound by an evidence-based code of conduct.7
Registered Dietitians (RD): should be registered with the HCPC and hold a BSc and/or MSc in a BDA accredited Dietetics course. The term dietitian is a protected title, which is governed by a strict code of ethics. Only Registered Dietitians can legally call themselves dietitians.8
Both the BDA and AFN have search tools so you can check if the individual or company hires people with the qualification they’re claiming. Love Fresh Berries is a great example of a brand that is supported by qualified nutritionists, whose aim, like mine is to share and identify the many myths and pitfalls around nutrition by giving as many people as possible access to evidence based advice.9
What is an evidence-based diet?
The information is supported by science. An evidence-based diet has no quick fixes, it has neither forbidden foods nor ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ones. Instead, we like to focus on nourishing our bodies, because there is room for all foods in a balanced diet. We are all unique, and what works for one person cannot be applied to everyone so strive to find a way of eating that works for you. Focus as much as possible on eating whole foods, these are natural and perfectly designed for our body and look to incorporate protein, carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats in your meals.
Rhiannon Lambert is a Registered Nutritionist specialising in weight management, eating disorders and sports nutrition. Founder of leading Harley Street clinic Rhitrition, bestselling author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well and Food For Thought podcast host, Rhiannon’s qualified approach to nutrition and total dedication to her clients’ needs has seen Rhiannon work with some of the world’s most influential people.
Part of a paid partnership with Love Fresh Berries.
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