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Nutrition Advice, Whom to Trust?

So You want to eat healthier...

As the holidays are approaching some people are thinking about New Year's resolutions and how they want 2020 to be THE year they get healthy and make a true change. Eat healthier is the #1 New Year's resolution, 71% of people want to eat healthier. But how do you know who to trust when looking for nutrition or weight loss advice? 

But you're not sure what/who to believe...

There are so many books and magazines. The internet is cluttered with nutritionists, health coaches and fad diets...ahhhhh, it can be so overwhelming! Thankfully there are true experts who are college-educated, trained professionals to help you make safe, sustainable, healthy changes to reach your goals- Registered Dietitians or Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists. Let me explain.  Registered Dietitian Nutritionist vs Nutritionist   Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are nutrition experts who have at least 1) a bachelor's degree at a US accredited university or college and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the official governing body of nutrition 2) completed an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program for approximately one year 3) passed the national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. In sum, it takes a lot to be certified as an RDN, which is not the case for a nutritionist or health coach.  Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. That's right, the term isn't regulated so anyone can open up shop as nutritionist and dole out their opinion on what they think is best for you without any education, background, or training. The internet and social media are full of "nutritionists" who may have zero formal training/background in nutrition. I'm not saying there aren't nutritionists, health coaches, or personal trainers who know a fair amount about nutrition, what I am saying is  that you should be aware that they haven't met regulated standards to legally practice nutrition, that is, it's not their expertise.  Doctors are similar, they aren't trained to give advice beyond the basics- eat more fruits and vegetables, cut back on processed foods, etc. In fact, 71% of medical schools fail to meet the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education. Also, doctors are so busy they don't have time to stay up to date on all the latest nutrition research coming out, it's not reasonable to expect that of them, which is why they often refer patients to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (not just a nutritionist).  What does a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist do? A lot of people think RDNs just tell people to eat more vegetables and stop eating junk food, but that's not quite accurate. First, there are a wide variety of RDNs, some work in hospitals, food banks, universities, etc so it depends on the role of the RDN, but ultimately our goal is to use evidence-based recommendations to improve the health, well-being and performance of individuals so they can achieve their goals. RDNs have backgrounds in biochemistry, chemistry, cell biology, anatomy,'s not just telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables.  How can an RDN help me reach my goals?  I can't speak for other RDNs, but I will tell you how my clients achieve success.  I have a PhD in nutrition with a strong research background, which is rare, only 4% of RDNs earn a doctorate. I read research every day to make sure I stay up to date on the latest scientific studies that inform my recommendations. I also use test resting metabolic rate testing to calculate how many calories your body burns. Most RDNs don't have access to this technology and rely on equations to predict rather than measure your metabolic rate. Here's how I help my clients be successful. 1. Listen I get to know people and where they are in their life to make sure I provide recommendations that fit their lifestyle and are sustainable with their habits. All of my recommendations are 100% customized to fit the needs of individuals because everyone is different. 3. Set clear goals  It's crucial to set clear goals if you want to succeed and truly be happy. Goals such as "I want to lose weight" or "I want to be healthier" are vague and can be overwhelming. I help clients clarify what they truly want so we can develop a plan to get them from where they are to where they want to be.  4. Develop a plan Once you know your goals, we can create steps to get you to your goal. When you break down big goals (like losing weight) into smaller goals (like adding chicken to your salad at lunch) it becomes much more manageable. I'm all about leveraging behavior and food to make it work in your favor.  5. Keep in touch People do best if they have support and motivation along the way. There will be moments when it's challenging, so it's important to have a plan in place so you know what to do when things get tough. I allow my clients to reach out with any questions, comments or concerns. Having a trustworthy resource is key.  My hope is that this post helped you understand the difference between and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a nutritionist. We don't just tell people to eat more vegetables and send them on their way. RDNs are a trustworthy source of nutrition information among the bog of social media, the internet, and fad diets. Personally, my goal is to help people feel their best and achieve their goals. You won't reach your full potential if you aren't optimally fueled.  Dr. A'nna M. Sewall is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and received her PhD from Cornell University. She is the only combined PhD/RDN in the world with all Ivy League degrees specializing in performance nutrition. She is the owner of Iron Sage Consulting, a private practice aimed at helping individuals optimally fuel to achieve their full potential. For more information go to or email Dr. A'nna also posts weekly recipes on Instagram and Facebook under the Iron Sage Consulting page.

#nutrition #dietetics #registereddietitian

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