Dispelling Diet Myths

Social media – it can be our best friend and our worst enemy all in one day!
There are SO many accounts out there trying to tell you to eat this way, dress this way, act this way – it can all be a bit confusing at times, especially when it will all change again tomorrow!

To top it all off, here you are just trying to lose a couple of kilos before your big day and you don’t know who to listen to or what to follow. Do you follow the whole “un-diet” thing? No carbs? Go Vegan? Or what about that diet where you only eat things that are green?

Girl, stop right there and take a deep breath. Our resident dietician, Aimee Robson from Bloom Bride is here to dispel some of the myths that are all over social media right now as well as point you in the right direction of who (and what) you can trust.

Take it away Aims.

Images from Unsplash and Instagram.

Dispelling diet myths and navigating the good from the bad on social media

Nutritional information is no longer only just a click away; it is constantly in our face, popping up everywhere. We are continually bombarded with new diet trends, the latest “super food” and ground breaking “disease-preventing foods”. So, where do we draw the line and how do we know what to believe? The aim of today’s blog post is to give you a few tips, enabling you to differentiate between good and bad sources on social media, and leave you feeling more empowered and in control of your health and wellness.

Deciphering the good from the bad on social media really can be a tough one, as often an account can seem to be reputable – their content sounds great, they look great, and our brains automatically decide to take their advice to heart. The problem is that often these accounts are not sharing information that is evidence based and have no scientific backing. In some instances the advice given can even be detrimental to your health. Therefore, it really is important to take an active stance in filtering what information you take to heart, and what you decide to dismiss on social media. Here are my top 5 tips to help you do just this. 

  1. Make sure they are qualified

When making an appointment to see a medical professional, we don’t feel the need to first make sure they are in fact qualified, as we can trust that they are. However when it comes to social media, this is a bit more tricky. There currently isn’t any form of regulation on social media, so basically anyone can be dishing out their two cents. Hence why we have to look a bit further than just a post to make sure a person is reputable. Visit their page and check out their bio. Technically we should only be seeking nutrition advice from registered dietitians or registered nutritionists. RD stands for Registered Dietitian and in South Africa you will often see it abbreviated as RD(SA) or overseas you might see it as RDN. Dietitians have not only been extensively trained in the field of diet, nutrition and health (5 years to be precise), but we have also been trained on how to correctly interpret scientific studies.  Often the radical claims circulating social media have been misinterpreted from a scientific study. So the influencer posting may state it is scientifically backed, however this is not the case at all. It takes a lot of training to know how to correctly interpret the results of scientific studies, and when interpreted inappropriately, this is when the radical statements start circulating the internet. 

  1. Ensure that professionals are sticking to their lane.

This tip is to help you filter out inappropriate “professional” accounts on social media. I stand strongly by the fact that professionals shouldn’t be crossing within their departments; i.e. personal trainers giving nutrition advice or dietitians giving medical advice etc. Professionals should be “sticking to their lane”, so if a professional account is providing advice/recommendations on content that is beyond their qualifications and skills, then it is likely that this isn’t the most accurate source of information. When it comes to seeking information online we need to ensure that we are looking to the appropriate professional, i.e. nutrition/diet information from a registered dietitian, medical information from a medical doctor and fitness information from a qualified biokineticist or personal trainer.

  1. Look at the claims: do they seem radical or sound?

    For this point I want to refer to a quote that I absolutely love, seen on Instagram from @satisfynutrition:  “No single food makes a substantial difference to your health. *unless you are allergic”. This is so true! A single food can’t make drastic changes to your health, it is impossible. Dietary patterns and multiple foods in combination make substantial differences to our health.  Another hot topic is diets claiming drastic weight loss in short periods of time; anything more than ½-1kg per week is unhealthy and unrealistic. Therefore, any accounts that are making statements about a single food eliminating, curing or preventing something, or accounts making drastic weight loss statements, are so far from the truth and can’t be trusted. #ImmediateUnfollow

Picture from @satisfynutrition
  1. Don’t be misled by the number of followers and likes an account has.  

The number of followers and likes is not an indication of credibility, I can’t stress this enough. Yes, in the world of social media, likes and followers mean everything, but when it comes to medical, health and nutrition advice on social media, please don’t use this same algorithm. There are some terribly misleading accounts out there with tons of followers and likes, and then there are some incredibly reputable accounts with very few followers, but the information and knowledge they are dishing out is not only accurate, but also so valuable! Keep this in mind: quality of content not quantity of followers!

  1. Some great accounts I love and recommend.

With all this said, you may be hoping to get some direction on good accounts to follow. I have you covered. Here are four accounts that I really love; they are informative, reputable and super interesting! 

  • @satisfynutrition: a registered dietitian from America, her account is based on a “non-diet” style; following a healthy balanced approach (YES!)
  • @sumaiyadietitian: Sumaiya Essa, an amazing local Durban based registered dietitian, and great friend of mine, you can always trust her content to be evidence-based! 
  • @thefoodmedic: a medical doctor from the UK who also has a Masters in Nutrition, giving great medical and nutrition advice that is science based.
  • @vitaminphd: a great account to follow for all things gut health, once again evidence-based, yay! 

So there you have it, my five tips to help you decipher the good from the bad on social media. I really want to encourage all of you reading this to use these points and start applying this to who you follow on social media. Take charge of what you allow to enter into your online community, and thus what you allow to affect your nutrition and health choices.  I promise you, it is not only important, but also so critical in your journey towards achieving complete health and wellness. 

Thank you so much for sharing with us today Aims. Excuse us while we hop on Insta and follow these accounts right about now!

If you have loved this article and want to follow along with Aims as she preps for her own wedding, give her a follow on Insta or Facebook. 

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