Last week the daily mail published this article – How to become a ‘clean eating’ guru… in a MONTH!
This article downplays the nutrition profession and creates a false illusion that ANYONE can become a qualified nutritionist. It is not surprising that social media is awash with unqualified individuals peddling incorrect and potentially dangerous nutritional advice!
We asked REAL Registered Nutritionists to tell us exactly what their training entails and the importance of making the title ‘Nutritionist’ protected by law.
How does qualifying as a Nutritionist compare with the likes of this 3 week ‘clean-eating’ course?
“No vocational course (let alone one that is just 3 weeks) will test and teach you the evidence-based biochemistry, immunology, physiology and psychology involved in undergraduate and postgraduate nutrition degrees accredited by The Association For Nutrition.”
“A degree in Nutrition is intense, incredibly scientific, and provides a comprehensive foundation to work as a Nutritionist in this fascinating world of nutrition science. This [Daily Mail] article undermines the hard work and competence required to become a qualified Registered Nutritionist. Not only this, but the article is exceptionally misleading. The information is not based on scientific research and unnecessarily demonises certain nutrients and food groups.”
“These [clean-eating] courses so often teach pseudoscience and advocate unnecessary exclusion diets based around hugely expensive, niche ingredients. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing and this kind of poor advice can do real damage. A Registered Nutritionist will look at the balance of evidence, based upon years of published research and will give you the latest thinking without being swayed by a single, poorly conducted study with inconclusive results.”
“Clearly there’s an issue here because she claims that her ‘immune boosting’ avocado plus salmon is devoid of Vitamin E – when avocados & salmon are both pretty good sources of the vitamin. If something this fundamental got so confused – it concerns me what else they’re getting wrong. Even the way that this article espouses the supposed benefits of certain foods over others is in complete opposition to our core understanding of nutrition – that a diet cannot be ‘made’ or undone by a single food. We eat combinations of foods and the healthfulness of your diet is a result of overall patterns in your diet, not by individual foods or ingredients.”
“While I applaud those who want to improve their health and eating habits, taking “nutrition-light” courses like this and calling yourself a “nutritionist” is like someone who brushes their teeth at night calling themselves a dentist.”
What role does the media play in the spread of nutritional pseudoscience?
“One of my biggest concerns for public health is around the mixed messages that the public receive on nutrition. This is partly due to the fact that the media like attention grabbing titles based often on very little research. It’s also partly due to the fact that often journalists and the media don’t use quotes from people who REALLY know their stuff when it comes to nutrition. Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists are the gold standard when it comes to nutrition advice as we base our advice not on opinions, fads or trends, but on the scientific evidence.”
“Nutritionists are gaining a bad reputation and it is mainly down to Registered Nutritionists not being used as a source of information in these glossy magazines or snappy headlines. We are being put in the same category as ‘holistic nutritional coaches’ who are seen to jump on to trendy ingredients and fad diets. Evidence based, scientific knowledge may not be the most ‘instragrammable’ or ‘glossiest’ articles to read now, but this can change with Registered Nutritionist being at the heart of these influential, nationwide articles.”
“If magazines, newspapers and the media have any care for public health, they should try and seek out quotes from Registered Nutritionists and Dietitians, and be a little savvier about asking for evidence themselves. This could significantly reduce the amount of inaccurate information that the public has access too, and therefore clear the waters and allow credible information to start making its way to the surface.” Charlotte Stirling-Reed (as seen above)
What about the rise of ‘clean-eating gurus’?
“A deep lack of understanding from self-appointed health gurus will only serve to encourage impressionable teenagers and young adults to adopt unsustainable, restrictive and dangerous dietary regimes. The very fact many appear push generalised advice to paying private clients is quite frankly irresponsible.” Rhiannon Lambert (as seen above)
“To aspire to the life of a “clean eating guru” is unrealistic, not necessarily healthy and can be quite dangerous as it may lead to eating disorders such as orthorexia, anorexia or bulimia. Cutting out major food groups such as dairy and gluten is not recommended, unless you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, as they form part of a balanced diet and are a source of key nutrients.” Alexis Poole (as seen above)
“Clean eating IS big business. It’s also disordered, restrictive, and unscientific. Many businesses, like this “quick” nutrition “school” mentioned in the Daily Mail are in it for the wrong reasons. Magazines should prioritize scientific credibility over “click popularity” for journalistic integrity.”
Unfortunately, unlike ‘Dietitian’, the title ‘Nutritionist’ is not legally protected. What can be done?
“There is very little understanding about what a ‘Registered Nutritionist’ is and how it compares to a nutritional therapist, nutritionist, nutrition advisor (the list of terms goes on)*. Yes, we have a UK voluntary register of Nutritionists held by the Association for Nutrition but this goes (mostly) unnoticed by the media and the public. It’s vital that we increase the awareness of this register so that people understand where to go to for accurate, evidence based advice.”
* Read about the differences here
“The Association for Nutrition, the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists, has a code of conduct that all registrants must abide by to ensure all nutrition information presented on a public domain is safe, reliable and accurate. As a Registered Nutritionist, all information must stem from high quality evidence-based research, of which this article makes no reference to what so ever. All media publications should seek nutrition “expert opinion” from those registered with accredited professional bodies such as the Association for Nutrition and British Dietetic Association.” Alexis Poole (as seen above)
“Currently, due to lack of regulation, anyone can set up and practice as a nutritionist/nutritional therapist, meaning there is no real protection for consumers. The Government should take action to prevent unqualified people from potentially putting people’s health at risk.”
“This Daily Mail review of the nutrition course gives a shocking insight into ‘nutrition’ qualifications out there and proves why ‘Nutritionist’ should be a protected term – reserved only for those who are educated in nutrition to degree level, at a minimum. This article should have clearly differentiated between a genuine nutrition qualification and a quick ‘clean-eating’ course, because what is described bears no resemblance to the scientific, evidenced-based three-year course that Registered Nutritionists go through. The media need to be MUCH more responsible.”
“If ever in doubt of the information you read, you should ask if the information is backed by scientific research and challenge the author. Any Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian will always ensure the comments they provide are based upon sound evidence-based science and will be able to supply a reference list for referral if required.” Alexis Poole (as seen above)
Fight the Fads believe that we MUST make ‘Nutritionist’ a protected title. Therefore, this week, we will be launching a petition and would be grateful for your support. Stay tuned for more.
We would like to thank all Registered Nutritionists that contributed towards the writing of this article.
UK Government and Parliament Petition
FTF has launched a Government Petition to Make ‘Nutritionist’ a protected title. Please sign and share our petition so that we can get the 10k signatures necessary for it to be considered by MPs in parliament.
Here is the link to the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171211 …