Exercise judgment for good health

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In a single day, you can likely find at least 10 different articles on the same health topic, all claiming to know the “best” diets or the “healthiest” foods. With­out being a nutrition expert, it can be difficult to navigate the volume of nutrition information at our fingertips. Even experts have to weed through to sepa­rate valid and reliable informa­tion from anecdotal opinions.

Here are three ways to learn which sources to trust and which you can scroll past.

  1. Know what you’re looking for, and why.

If you are looking to change your eating, be sure to base this decision on health and well being, rather than appearance. Ask yourself these important questions before you start your internet search:

  • Why is changing my eating important to me?
  • Is the change I’m consider­ing realistic?
  • Will I be able to maintain the change in the long run?
  • Is there any health risk in­volved in following the advice or plan that I’m considering?
  • Does the plan or advice re­quire me to give up my favorite foods or avoid whole food groups?

Having this discussion with yourself can help you know what information to seek out when making informed health decisions.

  1. Find trusted sources.

Look for articles written by a registered dietitian nutrition­ist (RDN). RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have met specific academic and profes­sional requirements. These include earning a bachelor’s de­gree or higher from an accred­ited university, completing an accredited and supervised prac­tice program, passing a nation­al exam for credentialing, and completing ongoing professional education requirements.

The term “nutritionist” is not regulated and may be used by those without proper qualifications or training.

Examples of trusted health resources include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes As­sociation.

  1. Read with a questioning at­titude.

It’s important to use a criti­cal eye and common sense when searching for nutrition information. Look out for articles that offer a quick fix, promise a “cure” to multiple conditions, make you feel guilty about your appearance, contradict informa­tion from reputable scientific resources, or try to get you to purchase a product to solve your “problems.”

Other red flags include nutri­tion claims based on one study or studies from nonscientific sources, small study sample siz­es, and studies performed on an­imals. Words often used to lure consumers into questionable di­ets include “natural,” “miracle,” “special” or “secret.”