With the internet being highly unregulated, you may well be turning to an average Joe Blog for nutrition advice rather than a qualified nutrition professional. These days it seems as if anyone and everyone has their own view on nutrition - whether it be going Paleo or sugar-free or cutting out gluten or carbs. Nutrition is the hottest topic on the block. But with so much information out there, who can you trust? Nutrition advice is now coming from all types of people - celebrities, TV chefs, personal trainers, health coaches and even Joe (or Joanna) Blog. So how do you spot the real experts amongst all the pseudo-science touting nutrition gurus?
- Don't be swayed by a bloggers perceived 'success' on social media, such as their number of followers, celebrity status or physical appearance. Just because someone is 'successful' online doesn't necessarily make someone qualified!
- It really pays to do your homework and to make sure you check all the credentials and qualifications behind those you are turning to, before you go signing up to the next diet fad.
- It's not only the qualifications that are important but also the quality of those 'qualifications' - a 3 day online nutrition course from a unheard of university is completely different to having completed a Master or Post-Graduate degree from a reputable university.
- Advice should be based on robust scientific evidence, rather than emotional testimonials or one-off biased studies. "What works for me" can be a powerful tool to sway individuals into pursuing a certain dietary lifestyle.
- Remember it's not always truth you're reading or seeing depicted on your favourite bloggers page or on Instagram. It's often a very photoshopped and edited version of someone's life or in some cases, even a complete fraud.
What do all the nutrition terms mean?
In New Zealand, the term dietitian is a protected term. A dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards required by the NZ Dietitians Board under the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act (HPCA) 2003. A dietitian not only has an undergraduate science degree in human nutrition but also a post-graduate diploma or masters in dietetics. To practise in New Zealand, by law a dietitian must be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate, work within a specified scope of practice, participate in a continuing competency programme and adhere to a Code of Ethics.
Registered Nutritionists must meet certain criteria set out by the Nutrition Society of New Zealand to ensure they have appropriate academic qualifications in nutrition and that they undertake continuing education.
The term nutritionist is not a protected term. It can be used freely by anyone, as there is no specific qualification or legal registration process required. A 'nutritionist' may have a PHD in a specialty area of nutrition or equally be someone providing services with no formal training.
If you would like more information, you can view my interview about 'Nutrition Blogging' on the Paul Henry Show here.