Nutrition information is everywhere and it can often be challenging to sort the fact from the fiction. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making changes to your diet.
1. What is the persons qualifications?
You wouldn't feel comfortable taking medical advice from someone who read some information on the internet, talked about it a lot or did a short course. Getting nutrition information is no different. When it comes to your health it's incredibly important that you get your information from those that have had training and are going to provide you with advice tailored to your situation.
2. Is the person endorsed by a credible, authoritative organisation?
Dietitians complete extensive training that meets a national standard and are required to continue to up-skill and work in the industry in order to maintain the APD (Accredited Practising Dietitian) status. Dietitians hold their peers to very high standards and work together to make sure that clients are provided with the best possible outcomes.
3. Are there any hidden costs?
Before you take on some nutrition advice find out what's in it for them? You may hear that a nutritional guru or diet plan has the answer to some sort of conspiracy or nutritional secret and more often than not they will have a pretty book, supplement or unsustainable advice to sell to you.
There are no hidden or ongoing costs when seeing a dietitian. The number of sessions that you attend is up to you and there may actually be no costs if you gain a Chronic Disease Management Plan (formally EPC) from your GP. Rebates may also be available if you have private health insurance extras cover.
4. Does the advice take a holistic approach?
At BB Nutrition and Dietetics we know that improving your health isn't just about changing what you eat. If it were that simple there would be no such thing as lifestyle diseases. Our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the food that we eat is just as important. What and why we eat is complex and varies depending on the individual and their experiences. We take a holistic approach, understand each and every person and tailor strategies and goals to them.
We understand the important role that exercise plays in improving all aspects of your health and work in conjunction with BB Body Fitness.
5. Is there a testimonial?
Dietitians play by very strict advertising rules and that means that we aren't allowed to use testimonials. Although it does mean that we can't share all the wonderful results that our clients get, It does make sense because testimonials are often best case scenarios in motivated people which can't be guaranteed for everyone. We all have different experiences and there is no standard solution that will work long term. If you do see a testimonial on a nutrition professionals page it should be triggering a warning signal in your brain and your next question should be, what are they trying to sell me?
6. Can you do the suggested changes for the rest of your life?
Diets that are unsustainable generally have the word fad in front of them. I would even argue that if a diet has a name you probably won't be able to do it long term. Diets that only let you have limited options, label foods as good and bad or cut out whole food groups are not only unsustainable but can be harmful to your mental and physical health. Did you know that going on a diet is one of the biggest factors involved in gaining weight? You might loose a few kg and then go back to the way you were eating before and gain the kg back plus some more. This can repeat over and over and over. This happens because you haven't really learnt any new skills or strategies for coping with everyday situations that pop up.
A healthy diet isn't about being part of a "tribe" or eating what is getting the most likes on Instagram (currently smoothie bowls). It's about you!
When making a dietary change ask yourself, "Will I be able to maintain this at home, work or in a social circumstance?" The changes you make shouldn't mean that you aren't able to enjoy and be part of normal situations. Changes should be about nourishing your body and fostering a healthy relationship with food and yourself.
7. Does the advice emphasize that change takes time?
It takes a long time to develop a condition or gain weight and it takes time to reverse it. Anything that says you are going to get massive results in a couple of weeks is either lying or is relying on the fact that when you restrict carbohydrates you loose kg in glycogen and water (not fat).
8. Does it teach you life-long good habits?
The most important thing that I teach all of my clients is what a healthy diet looks like. I don't mean what not to eat, I mean what should fit into a day, what each meal should look like and the foundation skills that everyone should know. With our current food system and food culture it has become much harder to work out what is normal. Is it normal to have 3 meals a day or should you be having 6? Is it normal to stop eating carbohydrate foods at night or is it not? The things that we talk about each session will develop into skill that can be used for the rest of your life.
9. Do the dietary changes include choices that are varied, readily available and affordable?
100 years ago before we started developing lifestyle diseases it wasn't essential to eat activated nuts, gogi berries, coconut oil or the next super food the food industry decides to try to sell us, in order to be healthy.
Often the people peddling these sorts of claims have something to sell or have some sort of endorsements. The science shows that there is no one diet that is perfect and that people can be healthy from following a variety of different dietary patterns. The one thing that all of these well studied healthy eating patterns have in common is that they are full of foods that are readily available and affordable (seasonally). They are also varied which means that our bodies are exposed to a bunch different chemicals (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients) which they need in order to make us work properly.
10. Does the nutrition advice provide flexibility in the amount and types of food you can eat?
The amounts and types of foods that you eat will vary depending on things such as:
How hungry we are
What you have been eating over the past couple of days
Food that is available
What is culturally or socially acceptable at the time
Our likes and dislikes
Our financial situation
The amount of time available
Our food preparation skills
Our values and beliefs
A meal plan may work in the short term or may give you an idea of what a healthy diet looks like, but it fails to accommodate for our bodies intuition around eating. A meal plan can only work short term before we start getting bored, feel unfulfilled and need to get another one. I prefer to teach clients the skills they need to plan their own healthy diet over time
11. Is there a maintenance plan and does it include strategies or tips to help you get through the tough times?
Making dietary changes can be hard and there will be challenges along the way. Often these challenges may be the decider as to whether you can continue on a positive path or whether you resume you old dietary habits. We stay connected to our clients and provide tips through social media and email support to make sure clients stay on track.
Often we reassess the strategies throughout the process to make sure that they are appropriate and that they're working. You might find that your priorities change and you want to focus on something different and will accommodate for that.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and I hope that you have a think about these points the next time someone or the internet offers you nutrition advice .
If you are looking for a solution in all this nutrition confusion book an appointment today!