| By Jamie Stolarz |
I recently watched this Facebook video showcasing different diets — Bachelorette style.
A woman “dated” the diets (Keto, Paleo, shake, point system, etc.) to figure out which one to keep. Each diet was portrayed by a different person.
So many of the diets were contradictory. I found it comical, yet insightful. At the end, “balance” made a brief appearance.
I was reminded how confusing it can be to figure out how to eat healthier or lose weight.
The question becomes “Who or what do we listen to?” We are incessantly bombarded with information. In the past, we may not have had much information at our fingertips, but now, our smartphone presents us with a zillion messages to sift through.
That’s where seeking a professional can help. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, sometimes I take it for granted that people will know who to go to. For example, when you’re sick, you see a doctor; when your tooth hurts, you seen a dentist. But what about when you want to change your eating and dietary habits? Who do you see?
We may first turn to the Internet. But I suggest also seeking professional help. After all, every person is different, from lab work to family history, from food allergies to personality traits. A Dietitian uses all of this information and more to create a customized plan for you.
Allow me to help you in your search so that you may find science-based information and accurate advice.
Here are 5 tips to help make your nutrition journey a success so you don’t end up dating the wrong diets:
1) A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Registered Dietitian (RD) is the nutrition expert. I know this is a little confusing, but both phrases refer to the same thing; it’s a choice whether we call ourselves RDNs or RDs. However, a nutritionist is not the same as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or a Registered Dietitian. Literally anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. But only those who qualify can claim the title Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
So, what makes an RDN or RD qualified? We have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from an accredited university, completed a comprehensive 1,200-hour supervised dietetic internship, passed a national examination, and completed the required continuing education to keep the credential. To be a nutritionist, there are no requirements. Zero. Zip.
2) With that being said, when searching on the web, always ask, “Who wrote this?” If the nutrition information or advice isn’t from an RDN or RD, it can’t necessarily be trusted.
3) Another factor to keep in mind when using the Internet is to ask, “What site is this from?” Just like we wouldn’t ask our neighbor to pull our tooth out, we should remember to seek nutrition advice from those with professional knowledge, as opposed to those with opinions or personal experience. (Everyone eats, so most people have an opinion.) When looking at websites, it’s a good rule of thumb to choose those that end in .org, .edu and .gov. For example, the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are reputable sites for dietary information.
4) Seek one-on-one assistance from an RDN on your journey. I may be biased, but I believe everyone can benefit from seeing a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. We can translate the science into tailored nutrition information and advice that applies to everyday life (e.g. what to eat). We can coach you, be your champion and hold you accountable. For those who inquire about nutrition counseling and education services, I tell them that even if you don’t see me, find someone who is an RDN. To find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in your area, check out this dependable resource on www.EatRight.org where you can “Find an Expert.”
5) Don’t give up. If you don’t click with the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist you find, remember that approaches may vary and everyone is different — just like with dating or trying to find a doctor, massage therapist or hair stylist. The goal is to find someone who works for you.
Jamie Stolarz, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, is a registered dietitian, a lifelong cook and a frequent gym-goer. She’s also a proud dog mom and is currently planning her wedding.