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5 BAD Diet Tips on the Internet

Sharon Palmer

In case you haven’t noticed, the Internet and social media is absolutely rife with nutrition misinformation and bad diet advice. There are numerous bloggers, online publications, and sites claiming to be “expert sources” of nutrition information, often peddling poor advice—ranging from foods you should never eat to magic diet strategies or supplements that “cure” all health ailments. It’s enough to make a registered dietitian nutritionist, like myself, throw up her hands in frustration! That’s because RDNs are truly nutrition experts, with a minimum of four years studying nutrition in a university, followed by a one-year practical internship, and a rigorous registration exam—many RDNs further their education even beyond that. That’s why you should look to RDNs for sound nutrition advice, as well as other reputable organizations, like the American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Check out what the Academy says about how harmful nutrition information can really be, and how to avoid it. I asked some of my favorite RDN bloggers about some of the really bad nutrition advice they see on the Internet. Check out these 5 BAD Diet Tips on the Internet.

5 BAD Diet Tips on the Internet

Instant Pot Banana Brown Rice Pudding

BAD Tip 1: Avoid Bananas. There are numerous blogs circulating over the Internet waves, proclaiming a variety of perfectly innocent foods that “should never be eaten.” These are often click bait posts, beckoning you to inquire further and fall down the rabbit hole of searches. “I loathe the ‘5 foods to avoid’ with the banana pop-up. Why bash bananas? It’s one of the most convenient, nutritious and delicious fruits!” says Lisa Andrews, RDN, Owner of Sound Bites Nutrition.

BAD Tip 2: Super-food Miracles. Watch out for all of those proclaimed foods and ingredients that can cure just about anything, from cancer to dementia. “My specialty is cancer nutrition and I often do public speaking where the audience will ask me questions to confirm or dispute something they’ve read. I remind them that the reason they are asking me the question is that it didn’t feel quite right to them and I encourage them to trust that niggling feeling that makes them question. The type of questions I get are often those ‘super food’ ones; for example we’ve probably seen the Facebook posts about the miracle wonders of apple cider vinegar,” says Jean Lamantia, RDN.

BAD Tip 3: Toxic Foods. One form of bad diet advice is when sources inappropriately conjure up fear over “harmful” ingredients or foods—giving them more danger than science credits them. “There are a few triggers you should be aware of. It should be a red flag when something is labeled as ‘toxic’, ‘causing autism’, or as a ‘secret doctors don’t want you to know’. These are fear mongering tools to make you emotional and scared,” says Zach Cordell, MS, RDN of Cordell Nutrition.

BAD Tip 4: Plain Crazy Advice. There is a bounty of just downright, crazy-town nutrition advice—from pouring butter into your coffee to consuming nothing but celery juice for a week. “If it sounds too good or too crazy to be true, then it’s probably not! I suggest approaching the information, assuming it’s false, unless proven otherwise with good science or expert opinion,” says Julie Lanford, MS, RDN of The Cancer Dietitian.

BAD Tip 5: Must Buy Diet Cures. If a site is trying to sell you on a miracle cure, then it’s good to have a healthy amount of skepticism. “When multi-level marketing companies use social networks to sell nutrition-related products among friends, I find it particularly scary because you are more likely to try a potentially harmful or wasteful product just because your trusted friend is swearing its safety and efficacy to you. And sometimes you are even made to feel unsupportive if you don’t buy it,” says Diane Norwood, RDN of The Wandering RD.

Read more helpful nutrition tips at The Plant-Powered Dietitian:

18 Risks of the Keto Diet
18 Non-Diet Tips for Healthy Eating 
Fuel Your Diet with Fiber with 6 Dietitian Tips

 

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