Finding reputable nutrition information can feel more complicated than ever, mainly due to the significant misinformation found online. Fortunately, you can follow our 7 tips to find a credible nutrition professional to help you meet your health goals. Keep reading to learn more.
If you want to make changes to your diet you may want to consult with a credible nutrition professional first to ensure you make educated decisions.
A registered dietitian is a clinical health professional who is considered an expert in nutrition. Nutritionists, however, have less formal education and are not regulated, but they may still appeal to you.
You should work with a credible nutrition professional that aligns with your health goals.
Why is there so much misinformation?
Too often, misinformation about health and nutrition is spread through mainstream media or word of mouth. Although some of this information may appear harmless, such as #watertok — the trend to drink large amounts of sugary water throughout the day — there is always a risk that something dangerous could happen to your health.
These self-proclaimed health gurus likely mean well, but most are not qualified to offer health care advice. Unfortunately, their messages can go viral because of their sensationalistic nature, and misinformation may spread rapidly.
Why you should choose a credible nutrition professional
When you change your diet, you should always seek reliable and credible nutrition information. This is especially important for vulnerable populations who must follow a robust diet to thrive. Examples of these populations include:
- Pregnant women
- Someone with a new chronic health diagnosis
- People who follow restricted diets
- All youth who are growing and developing
Working with a credible nutrition professional allows you to confidently modify your diet and can help you feel your best.
Who can help?
It's important to know what is available in terms of nutritional help.
- Registered dietitian. A registered dietitian or dietitian nutritionist is a licensed healthcare professional who can work in clinical settings. They have expert knowledge of the role between nutrition and health and follow evidence-based practices to help you feel your best. An RD can work in private practice, hospitals, medical clinics, and specialized health clinics such as a kidney lab or diabetes hub.
- Nutritionist. A nutritionist may have completed nutrition education but is not recognized as a health care professional. They are not eligible to work in a clinical environment like hospitals or medical clinics. Instead, they may work privately or be attached to other wellness clinics, such as chiropractors.
Tips to pick the right professional
Inviting someone into your health journey can be a vulnerable first step, especially if you’ve never pursued nutrition counseling before. You should pick the person with the right tools to help you achieve your health goals.
Some people will work best with a dietitian while others may opt for a nutritionist. Here are seven tips on ensuring you are working with the best person.
1. Ask about their background
You’ll want to ensure you are working with someone with a background in nutrition. You should ask about their schooling, credentials, and qualifications. A credible professional will happily share these details to help you feel more comfortable.
2. Seek out a specialist
Seek a credible nutrition professional certified in the area you need help with. For example, if you have diabetes, you may want to work with a certified diabetes educator. Working with a specialist will ensure you receive the best care possible, which can help you achieve your health goals faster.
3. Discuss their availability
Making lifestyle and dietary changes can be a lot of work upfront, and having someone accessible can be vital to your progress. Someone that is only available to meet with you every three months may not be often enough. Most people benefit from follow-up visits every two to four weeks depending on their goals.
A credible professional should have a clear and thorough process that is easy to follow. You should ask them to walk you through a typical appointment to learn their process and see if it feels right to you. Many reputable providers offer a free discovery call, allowing you both to see if it will be the right fit.
5. Read reviews
Most nutrition professionals and other service-based health businesses have reviews posted online. Reviewing these comments can help you decide if working together will be a good fit.
6. Review payment options
Before working together, you should review the payment options to know what to expect. Most insurance companies will cover nutrition counseling sessions completed with a licensed nutrition professional. You can also inquire about possible payment plans.
7. Browse reliable channels
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can connect you with a registered dietitian anywhere in the USA. You can browse through vetted nutrition professionals before googling options — which may be overwhelming for some people.
Self-proclaimed wellness gurus on social media are not a reliable source of nutrition information. In most cases, these people haven’t completed academic training and are not qualified to make health recommendations. You can protect yourself from them by thoroughly vetting them and their programs by following the steps listed above.
Red flags to avoid
Finding a legitimate nutrition professional might seem challenging, so here are some warning signs to be cautious about:
- People who promise cures and overnight results.
- People who claim you can only see results if you buy their product.
- Health information that is posted without any scientific references.
- A defensive nature when questioned about their experience, knowledge, or credentials.
- Making rigid recommendations that don’t align with your preferences and health goals.
- Relying on fear-mongering buzzwords such as toxic, cleanse, detox, and clean eating.
Ask for recommendations
If you are unsure if a person is a credible nutrition professional, you can always ask your family doctor or healthcare team for recommendations. They have experience working with other health professionals and can help guide you to a reliable nutrition provider.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Find a nutrition expert.
- Journal of Nutrients. Misinformation and disinformation in food science and nutrition: impact on practice.
- Nutrients. Nutrition and vulnerable groups.