This week has been quite the week at the NutriFit studio for nutrition questions and discussion about who is qualified to know their (nutrition) stuff or not. I know this post is starting off a bit differently from my other Countdown posts, but at the end of the day, let’s not forget that I AM a dietitian/nutritionist, who also happens to be a fitness professional and a running junkie.
First up, the nutrition questions. I received two separate questions about SUGAR, and one, just this morning as I was working out, about PROTEIN SHAKES. I’ll save those for a future post, and for now will address the issue top of mind for me; who, exactly, is qualified to work as a nutrition expert? Two things got me going on the topic.
The first: The gym where I work out each day (no, I don’t work out at my own studio, I’m too busy WORKING when I’m here) is kicking off a series of nutrition programs led by a woman who, to the best of my knowledge (because if she had credentials they’d be highlighted on all of the program materials, right?) has only the experience of “The Academy of I Lost Weight” as her nutrition training. No nutrition degree, no credentialing by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Wait, she is listed as a “Healthy Living Adviser”. . .which is what, exactly?
The reason this sticks in my craw is because I worked long and hard to earn my nutrition degree, complete my internship, and earn my masters degree. I do medical nutrition therapy, and work as a nutrition therapist, helping people each and every week make changes that literally save their lives. I take the work that I do VERY seriously, and am privileged to be able to do it.
Not that this woman doesn’t take nutrition seriously. In fact, I’m sure she’s very enthusiastic and pro-nutrition, and probably a generally lovely person. I mean, good for her that she wants to help people be healthier – nothing wrong with that. But when, during the course of her programs she receives questions that can’t be answered from her book of “life-experience-with-losing-weight”, I shudder to think how she’ll respond. People frequently receive erroneous (and potentially harmful) nutrition information from people not qualified to be sharing it. This is also how nutrition myths and untruths are fueled.
The second: This article,”Actually, No You’re Not A Nutrition Expert”, by Dr. David Katz, eloquently and brilliantly captures the essence of the madness that surrounds the “everyone eats, so everyone is a nutrition expert” school of thought. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/nutrition-advice_b_3061646.html. Thank you, Dr. Katz, from a highly credentialed and experienced nutritionist who can proudly and legitimately call herself a nutrition expert.
The moral of this post? Check out the cred of anyone who calls themselves anything other than a registered dietitian/nutritionist. To be fair, I know there are qualified nutrition experts who aren’t RDN’s, but then, I know what to look for in credentials and can ferret them out - but I’m not confident the general public can.
Whew. Thanks, I feel so much better.