Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Post - Who to Trust When It Comes to Nutrition

Happy Tuesday Ladies & Gentlemen!

I wanted to wait another week to announce the winner for the Healthy Holiday motto contest. So, for those of you still thinking, your deadline has been extended! Continue to brainstorm and shoot your suggestions to me via email or a comment on the post below. 

I would like to feature today a blurb written by Shelayne Werfel, a UC San Diego Dietetic Intern. Stay tuned for other healthy holiday tips coming this Friday!

The Importance of Skepticism and Scientific Literacy

These days, almost everyone has something to say about nutrition, and most people aren’t qualified to say anything.  Remember that nutrition is a science: not an opinion, not a celebrity fad, not an ancient Chinese tradition, but a field founded on research which is often difficult to interpret without a specialized educational background. 
Just like you wouldn’t want someone without an MD to perform surgery, you don’t want someone with no background in nutrition to tell you what to eat.  The trusted credential in the nutrition world is the RD (registered dietitian credential).  This requires a bachelor’s degree from an approved nutrition curriculum, a minimum of 1200 hrs. supervised practice, RD exam completion, and  continuing education units to ensure that your knowledge reflects the latest scientific advances. 
Some dietitians use the acronym RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, but be wary of anyone who simply calls themselves a “nutritionist.”  This term does not represent any credential or education and is not regulated, so you can call your cat a nutritionist without fear of legal trouble. 
Be curious if someone tries to talk to you about nutrition or if you are seeking nutrition counseling, ask the person about their credentials.  Look up the credentials of the authors of diet books.  Even the most trusted credential is not a guarantee (every field has its quacks), but the more educated someone is, the less likely they are to be promoting pseudoscience.  To be a smart and safe consumer, always be a skeptic.

Great sources of nutrition information online include:
http://ods.od.nih.gov/  (Office of Dietary Supplements)
http://nccam.nih.gov/  (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
www.eatright.org/dietreviews/  (diet book reviews by the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, the professional organization for registered dietitians)
www.choosemyplate.gov (official website for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans)

Interested in learning more about a particular topic? Feel free to email me at tastebuds@ucsd.edu or follow HDH on twitter & check Facebook for upcoming events featuring the Taste Buds!

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