Would you trust the bridge design of someone that had once driven over a bridge?

That’s an analogy from Marilyn Waters, PhD a Dietetics professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. She was fond of saying it in response to some of the junk science out there. That was 15 years ago and I dare say it is much worse now.

One of the best things (I can imagine) of not having rigorous university training, licensure and practice guidelines is the freedom to make outlandish claims to sell things. There is no governing body that regulates nutritionists, journalists or “activists.” They can say and do whatever they want. A Registered Dietitian however who, by the way, has an actual university degree, must pass a board examination, maintain competency via continuing education and faces policing by other dietitians (a board) against doing harm to the public.

Contrast this with nutrition practitioners, many of whom have no university training in dietetics or medicine, sometimes not even a self-study course, nothing more than marketing expertise. I think of one high profile blogger in particular. I am just continually dumbfounded that she is taken seriously. She has no training whatsoever in dietetics or medicine. What she lacks in scientific training she makes up for in marketing savvy. Frighten consumers (also without scientific training) with scary sounding “chemicals” in their food. Sell them a solution. It works. She appears to be making money hand over fist. Were there any type of professional rigor she would’ve been shut down years ago.

Information given by Registered Dietitians may seem repetitive and no frills. That is because there really isn’t any magic to healthy living. We don’t invent things to make a buck. I could sell, or give you a list of foods, and I used to do this. I’m certainly qualified to do this. But over time I grew weary of this approach for several reasons. One, I can only imagine the boredom of this repetitive way of eating. Two, people do not tend to stick with it very long. Three, it is prescriptive and unless you have a medical condition that requires a nutrition prescription YOU DON’T NEED ONE! And lastly, I believe it could lead to an emerging eating disorder known as orthorexia or an obsession with eating “right.”

True, our advice often seems a little boring; eat more veg & fruit, move your body in ways you find pleasurable, limit added sugars, and eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full. It’s not the least bit exciting and seems very repetitive. But nutrition is a science. There are rarely any breakthroughs in science (despite what Dr. Ahhhs would have you believe.) No, science moves at a snail’s pace. Take the topic of antioxidants. I encourage people to eat a diet rich in antioxidants (not pills, though) which is a diet rich in foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But the research that it prevents cancer is inconclusive. But generally, people feel better when their diet is rich in these foods. Is it psychosomatic? Perhaps. But it isn’t harmful and I can keep my code of ethics intact.

Activists profit from what we essentially admonish toddlers for doing (disliking something because it looks or sounds yucky).

Case in point, pink slime. Maybe it does have an ick factor. Especially for people used to eating meat without bones (i’m looking at you boneless, skinless [tasteless] chicken breast.) But to me this is genius. Manufacturers have taken something that would otherwise be put in the landfill to rot and turned it into a usable food product. For people with a lower food budget it means they can have nutritious protein in their diet. It reminds me of the saying from my grandpa during hog killing time, “we ate everything but the squeal.” So I ask. No, I implore you. When you see a random meme in your facebook feed that tells you to eat this or avoid that. Just use some discretion. If you want to put lemon in your water do so. But not because of it’s detox or fat burning ability (which is nonsense). Do it because you like the way it tastes.

Take care of yourself. You only have one health!