Spotting bad nutrition advice in the National Nutrition Month of March

March is National Nutrition Month. It’s the time of year when The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates the expertise of registered dietician nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts. The Academy also seeks to remind everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating.

Ha! If only it were that easy. Thanks to the Internet and especially indiscriminate posting and sharing on Facebook, who even knows what the are the basics of healthy eating. Much of the nutrition and weight loss advice and information found online doesn’t come from qualified sources. 


The more people are looking to improve their health, add years to their lives, or slim their waists with food, the more bad nutrition advice will be online, in magazines, books and passed around among friends, families and co-workers. Some bad advice is free; some can cost you a lot of money. Don’t be fooled by the price. Just because there is a price attached doesn’t automatically make it scientifically sound.

  • There’s bad or no science involved

If an expert states “there are 5 vegetables you must never eat to lose belly fat” don’t give them up until your see the sources. These kinds of statements should be backed up in peer-reviewed journals. When you can find lots of anecdotal endorsements, but no real scientific studies, that is not science.

Even if it’s doctors who are supplying the anecdotes, it’s still not science, it’s an opinion. Doctors have written best selling diet books without any background in nutrition science. Nutritionist is not the same as registered dietician RD.

For the study to be valid it has been conducted over several months or even years. They have a large sample size to show results are trusted. More studies under the same and different conditions, with similar conclusions support the validity. Be suspicious when a study is funded by an organization that can profit from the results, but know that doesn’t always prove the study is flawed.

“Eat radishes everyday to live to be 105” Please cite your sources on that, Doc.

  • Food as medicine

There is plenty of proof that your diet can help keep you healthy or contribute to sickness. A healthy diet is important, but it’s not a guarantee you’ll stay healthy and even less likely that it can cure a disease. While it can be important in fighting disease, it’s probably a scam when a specialized diet can “reverse a deadly disease” such as cancer. It’s definitely a scam if it’s one single food that can bring about robust, good health in the sick.

If there were any truth to this, you’d be able to find lots of scientific research in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals to support the claims. While it may not harm your health, the chance of a food or a diet restoring your health is on its own is low.

  • There are forbidden foods or food groups

We hear a lot about how unhealthy sugar is these days. If a nutritionist, not a RD, tells you to avoid all sugar to for optimal health and weight loss, ignore the advice. A lot of sugar may not be healthy, but cutting out all sugar isn’t wise either.

Cutting out all sugar eliminates a lot of healthy fruit, vegetables, and even milk which are all foods with naturally occurring sugars. People who suggest the elimination of a food or food group is demonstrating a lack of understanding human nutrition science.



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.