Given the amount of time we spend glued to our screens, it is unsurprising that the media plays a large role in influencing and shaping our lives. Whilst there is no single cause of disordered eating and body dissatisfaction, research has shown that exposure to the media contributes towards unhealthy eating habits and body insecurities (Morris, 2003).
🔍 Just last week, Registered Dietitian Rosie Saunt, (from Rosie Saunt Nutrition – http://www.rosie-saunt.com/) brought to our attention an article on the ELLE website which told us to ‘forget everything we thing we know’ and singled out ten veggies that are ‘actually bad for you’. http://bit.ly/2bdMsxm Rosie explains that “Star fruit contain a neurotoxin which can build up in the blood of patients with chronic kidney disease, who are unable to filter waste products out of their body. The results can be deadly, but these fruit, along with all other fruit and vegetables are perfectly safe for healthy people to eat….to even suggest otherwise is nonsensical.’
Why sensationalize? Unfortunately, editorial bias often involves manipulating the truth behind a story or piece of research. In 2012, The Telegraph reported that a ‘chocolate cake breakfast could help you lose weight’. Sadly, for us chocoholics, this statement was based on a small study which had several flaws, and was not particularly reliable. BUT, let’s be honest here- the title grabbed your attention, right?!
🔍 After seeing this article: ‘If science is interesting, it’s probably wrong’ http://bit.ly/2biHEVC, we spoke to The Angry Chef himself (a Biochemist and acclaimed blogger). Here’s what he had to say “I wish the media would stop being so reductionist in the way it reports about food. So often individual foods are characterised by headlines as either being toxic or medicinal, whereas in reality it is all just food and can all be part of a balanced healthy diet. That sort of reporting can create real anxiety around food choices, whereas if we all just relaxed a little and enjoyed a wide variety of different food, without thinking particular ingredients are going to kill or cure us, we would probably be a lot better off.”
Who’s to blame?
It’s not just the magazines and newspapers fueling this obsession with our looks. The rise of ‘nutrition gurus’, food bloggers and vloggers has meant that many of us are turning to these UNQUALIFIED professionals for nutrition advice. But don’t be fooled by their good looks, flashy lifestyles and charisma- their advice is unregulated and therefore potentially dangerous.
🔍 Dr Lauretta Ihonor, a qualified doctor and founder a Nutrition Consultancy business (http://drlaurettaihonor.com ) has seen the impact this can have on people’s eating/dieting. She says “I’ve seen clients with B vitamin and/or iron deficiencies because they’ve cut out several food groups based on what they’ve read in a blog. The problem is that some bloggers who advocate a style of eating often fail to explain how the reader should go about ensuring they get all the micro nutrients they need on a daily basis. So while all the information put out into the public domain isn’t terrible – the problem is there is often a failure to provide context or warn that what works for one person may not work for another.”
Who and what should I trust?
✅ Registered Dietitians (RDs) are part of a regulated profession that gives out evidence-based nutritional advice. Unlike the media, dietitians do NOT sensationalize, nor do they promote quick fix diets or ‘superfoods’.
✅ Registered Nutritionists (RNutr) are practitioners who have undergone rigorous training (BSc or Masters in Nutrition) and are able to provide evidence- based information. Look out for the ‘registered’ part as anyone can call themselves a nutritionist even if they’ve done a 2 day online course.
❗️TOP TIP: Always exert caution with what you read. Still confused?! Helen West, RD has produced an excellent six step guide for Making Sense of Nutrition in the Media: http://bit.ly/2bs2xOg
🔍 Renee McGregor, RD (http://www.reneemcgregor.com/), sums things up- “Make sure info being put out is from a qualified professional and not from a blogger. Ensure advice given is not faddism or providing reassurance that a fad is acceptable.”
FTF’s view is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Photo credit: http://www.elleuk.com