Where are You Getting Your Nutritional Advice From?

Okay, I know I have been on hiatus too long.  I found after being away for two weeks on vacation it was just really hard to get started again.  I had been blogging pretty regularly 2-3 times per week…and I think that is what I have to do.  Once you stop, it is too hard to start again.  I found myself facing writer’s block.  What should I write about?  Well, after a few weeks of drawing a blank or just not feeling the motivation to look for a topic (I do a lot of reading of health and nutrition stuff, which generally drives my blog, but I hadn’t even been doing that) I have some motivation driven by a great email I got the other day from Precision Nutrition.   But before we get into the guts of the email, let’s look at where we are getting our nutritional/weight loss advice from. 

Precision Nutrition was founded by John Berardi.  He and his staff have helped coach thousands of people to weight loss (yes, I think “coach” is an appropriate term here).  They also now offer certification programs for those interested in helping people with weight loss and nutrition…if you are trying to lose weight, without success, I would turn to Precision Nutrition or someone certified by them for help.  John Berardi is freakin’ smart and these guys are on the cutting edge of nutrition information.  The problem with Registered Dietitians (RD’s) is that much of what they are required to know is a) outdated and b) has more to do with feeding people in institutional settings than helping people lose weight (that is not to say that RD’s are not good at what they do or cannot help with weight loss…all I am suggesting is that you don’t look at the initials and assume the person is knowledgeable and can help you).  Here is an excerpt from a great post by Andy Bellatti, RD (yes, he is critiquing his own credentials) titled “5 Ways the Nutrition Field Hinders It’s Own Progress.”  I think the entire post is definitely worth a read. 

The American Dietetic Association Isn’t A Health Organization:

I am currently studying to take my Registered Dietitian exam.  This past weekend I was reviewing several hundred practice questions provided in a study guide given to me by a fellow intern.  As I flipped through the pages, I felt a mixture of frustration and disbelief that, assuming the exam poses similar questions, this is what the American Dietetic Association considers important information.

As far as I can tell, these practice questions are from 2003.  Every question that relates to food science involves red meat, eggs, cakes, margarine, and pies.  In fact, the correct answer to a question on the best way to lower sodium in a meal was to use low-sodium margarine in place of regular margarine.  The ADA wants to make sure I know how to prevent a cake from coming out too spongy, and yet apparently doesn’t care if I know the nutritional differences between — and specific health benefits of — chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds, or the health implications of a diet too high in omega 6 and too low in omega 3 fatty acids.

Other questions that the ADA considers important — so important, in fact, that they dedicate an entire third of the exam to them — have to do with the layout of a food service kitchen, what cleaning cycle is best for a dishwasher, how to deal with budget reductions in a food service facility, and how much hamburger I would need to make 300 three-ounce patties with a 20 percent shrinkage.  And here I thought it was important to know how the mineral content of whole wheat flour differs from that of white flour.

Frustrating, to say the least.  Oh, and, of course, I am expected to answer that I should worry about vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies if a client tells me they are vegan.  Funny — thinking back to my outpatient and clinical experiences, about 90% of patients were vitamin D deficient, and I would wager that 98% of them were omnivores.  This question is especially silly given that almost all vegan dairy alternatives are fortified with vitamin D and B12.

As a future Registered Dietitian, I am beginning to understand why the credential is completely foreign to the average American, why we are often seen by some people as advocates for lobby groups rather than health, and why the field we are supposed to have ownership of is claimed by so many.  I am encouraged, though, to have met Registered Dietitians who are independent thinkers and are passionate about clean and healthful eating.  It’s my sincere hope that we can mobilize and help bring the field we have so much faith in to the forward-thinking place where it truly belongs.

Okay, so I can already see this is turning into a longer post than expected…I am going to leave you with this, and continue later this week with Part 2 (yes, this is a way to force me to get back into posting to my blog), which will get into a critique of the new government food plate, from the perspective of John Berardi.  I think John Berardi is someone to listen to, and after my next post, I think you too will agree…

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About Lisa Van Dore

I have lived in Sherborn, Dover and most recently North Walpole, for a total of 15 years (and counting). Having recently been through the process of selling a home and buying (and renovating) a new one, I understand the conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety inherent in the process, whether you are a seller or buyer, whether this is your first home purchase or your tenth. I have a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Indiana University. My early career found me working as a CPA, and later as the controller of Crate & Barrel. More recently I spent seven years running my own personal training business. I understand the hard work and dedication necessary to build a business and a reputation...most of my personal training clients came to me by referral and my first client was still with me when I decided to leave personal training. This speaks to the level of effort I put forth for my clients, week after week. On a more personal note, I raced triathlon for seven years and more recently completed my first half marathon. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, Maine, hiking and, in the fall, following college football...my teams are the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!).
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