In this day and age we have more information than we could ever want. We are informed and rich with knowledge. However, there can be such a thing as too much information.
Nutrition is something that many claim to be an expert on. If someone finds a diet that works for them, such as gluten free or no carbs, they talk about it and sing its praises for its life changing effects. This is great (for them), but many jump on the bandwagon, follow suit and expect the same life changing effects to occur to them. This won’t happen!
Here are some useful things to remember when being faced with the decision to follow suit, or carve your own path!
1. Nutrition is individual
We are all different. Although there is a tonne of science to guide us on what to eat and what’s healthy, remember, we are all individuals and will react differently to food intake. Nutrition advice should be personalised to each and every one of us, what works for one may not work for you. Just because your friend has lost weight eating a particular diet, does not mean that it will be the healthiest thing for your body and meet your unique activity needs.
2. Nutrition advice should NOT be anecdotal
Is the article you are reading based on a personal journey or proven facts? Although it’s great to hear of wonderful success stories, they aren’t useful. Beware of “anecdotal advice”. This means the advice is based on personal observation, case study reports or random investigations rather than scientific evaluation. Be information savvy!
3. Nutrition advice should not be faddy – it should be life long
If it sounds too good to be true then it normally is!
We are all attracted to things that promise a quick fix. Jumping on the latest fad or craze won’t produce what they promise. Small, considered changes are more likely to be the answer to your problems. Dietary changes should never make you feel deprived and it should never feel like a big effort. Also, maintaining the right nutrition intake for you over time will promote lasting effects, rather than ‘Yo-yo dieting’ between fad diets which can harm your metabolism or cause health issues in the long term.
4. Scientifically proven?
“Scientifically proven” doesn’t mean it’s true. Read articles with an inquisitive eye and ask yourself some questions such as, is it a sponsored article promoting a product? Are they trying to sell you something? Additionally, not all scientific papers produce legitimate results. Is the claim based on a single study or a few? Is the study on animals not humans?
If you are really keen to follow up on the science, look for studies that are randomised, double blinded placebo-controlled trials.
5. What qualifications do they have?
Ensure you listen to those that have the right qualifications. Keep in mind anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as it is a protected title. Look for a Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist affiliated with the nutrition society. If you have particular dietary needs, or are undertaking specific exercise and activities requiring dietary adaptations, it is always wise to go and see a professional so they can best support and inform you further.
Take home fact!
Nutritional education should allow you to change eating behaviours which will be long term and sustainable, rather than short lived fads and reaction to anecdotal advice, which will not provide a holistic approach to your personalised nutrition.
Written by registerd dietician Alex Cook, @thesportsdietician for Amplify Life