Everywhere you look, you will see nutrition advice: on TV, in magazines, on the web. Separating myth from fact can be rather confusing. Let me just give you a few pointers to help you at least figure out who can legitimately call themselves an expert on nutrition information, which may help you decide which articles you can trust.
First of all, you should know that ANYONE could call himself or herself a nutritionist. There are no laws or guidelines determining who can give out nutrition advice. I will never forget when I was visiting my parents one weekend while going to graduate school. While at the swimming pool at our local Jewish Community Center, a friend of theirs wanted to know what I was studying at college. “Nutrition science” I replied. And Ill never forget what this woman said: oh, my daughter has read so many books on nutrition that Im sure she can call herself a nutritionist just like you. I was astounded! Surely my parents would have loved finding out all their hard earned oney on my college education could have been spent on simply buying a food diet books.
I dont think so.
However, I did finish my degree and I have learned a few things about finding good nutrition information, which I want to share with you. First and foremost, I recommend you look for people who have the initials RD after their name. RD stands for Registered Dietitian. Registered dietitians have at least a bachelors degree in nutrition. Most have Masters Degrees and PhDs in nutrition science or a related science area. In addition to these degrees, RD’s also have passed a standardized national exam and must continue to keep up their expertise by taking education courses every year.
You can be sure of getting honest information from individuals who have graduated with a Master’s Degree and or PhD in Nutrition Science, even if they haven’t received their certification as a registered dietitian. These are people who have not simply read a few books on diet and nutrition; they have spent several years studying the science of Nutrition. They understand how to analyze claims made in the media, as well as the research methods that may be behind those claims.
With a Masters Degree in Nutrition Science, I am also an RD, but I like to call myself a nutritionist. I prefer to consider myself as being interested in all areas of nutrition, not just diets. This is how some people interpret the phrase “registered dietitian.”. My colleagues with degrees in Nutrition Science do not just treat a diagnosis on a piece of paper; they are concerned about working with the whole person. Some people are under the misconception that dietitians want to overwhelm their clients with information they don’t want or need. That is simply not true. Most of us are skilled in the sciences, and are trained to be nutrition counselors as well. Nutrition is not a “one size fits all”, and we realize we must work to individualize our recommendations to meet your specific concerns. We will also work to answer all the questions you have about nutrition that don’t necessarily relate to your own personal needs.
You will always see my credentials along with the word Nutritionist next to my name, because while I may have read many diet books, with my background, I possess the scientific knowledge to tell fact from fiction.