Dietitians doing Damage Control: Don’t lump us all in with the cola-guzzling RDs

OUCHY!
OUCHY!

Ohhhhhh shitsnacks. Registered Dietitians are having a rough week (which oddly has coincided with Nutrition Month and National Dietitians Day). First it was The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (representing more than 75,000 Dietitians in the U.S) slapping a seal of approval onto Kraft™ Processed Cheese. Next it was the hoopla around Registered Dietitians hired by Coca-Cola™ to label their new mini cans as a “healthy snack”. Even Yoni Freedhoff, a bit of a controversy to some RDs, joined the rest of us in a collective WTF sigh.

Alright, this unfortunate series of events has lead to many Dietitians speaking up to defend the profession. The organization Dietitians for Professional Integrity (based in the U.S) continues to release public statements,  including a few by Andy Bellatti, MS RD (one of its founding members). He did a great CBC radio interview today, where he doesn’t sugar coat the fact that many Dietitians have become quite “cozy” with major food industry conglomerates. However the cold hard reality is these industry partnerships can often undermine the knowledge that Dietitians have worked so hard (and continue to) achieve. You can listen to his fantastic interview here.

Here are some points to consider before you kick your favourite Dietitian’s industry backed, Coke-guzzling, Kraft processed cheese ass to the curb:

  • A (very large) number of Registered Dietitians are not tied to any industry backing. Many of us work in government-funded hospitals, community centres and Public Health units.
  • Those who are tied to industry are required by our regulatory bodies to release disclaimers, relating any link between statements made and industry sponsorship.
  • The reality of our profession is that industry ties are inevitable, especially when it comes to sponsoring conferences, continuing education opportunities and research. However this is not unique to dietetics, you see this is many, many other professions (e.g. big Pharma-sponsored conferences for Doctors).
  • Many Dietitians choose not to belong to certain professional circles due to conflicts of interest. For example, I have not joined Dietitians of Canada for several years because the organization is heavily sponsored by industry groups I don’t support. This is my PERSONAL choice, and all Dietitians will feel differently.
  • Dietitians still continue to be a trusted source of evidence-based nutrition information. I am not here to knock “Holistic Nutritionists” or other self-proclaimed nutrition experts, it is important that we all work together for the common end goal- facilitating improved wellbeing. And I for the record, would never promote soda pop or processed cheese as a “healthy” snack 🙂

Stay strong my peeps! xo

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!

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Here’s to all my lovely RD’s out there in the field, working hard to help make the world a better place! Whether you are trying to get your TPN feeds into pharmacy by lunchtime or helping an old lady pick the right type of Kefir in the grocery store, you are all doing a FANTASTIC job! Here are my top 5 facts about AWESOME Dietitians:

1) Dietitian + Nutritionist = NOT the same thing.

Yep, I’m not a nutritionist. I’m one of those annoying girls that will correct you if you call me one. And that’s because I LOVE being a Dietitian. I worked hard to get where I’m at, and I like to be a trusted source when it comes to evidence-based science. The term “Registered Dietitian” is a protected title, similar to “Registered Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacist” etc. This means we are part of a governing body (College of Dietitians of Ontario is my jam), we do accredited training and we write a competency-based exam. Anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist”, and that means you really need to do your research to know what a person’s education, background and experience is.

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2) We don’t all have eating disorders

Fun fact: I frickin love to eat. I love sushi, I love poutine, I love cake, I love chips. But you know what else I love? Balance. I love the way healthy eating makes me feel, but I don’t deny myself treats. All foods can fit. And I bet if you ask any Dietitian “how do you stay so skinny?”, most of them will give you the same answer. Make the best choices you can, but make sure to get enjoyment from food too.

3) We do more than just “tell people how to lose weight”

When I tell people I’m a Registered Dietitian, the first thing I get asked is “so you help people lose weight?”. Well, in my particular job that is just one of many things I do. But, Dietitians work in a HUGE variety of different settings. I have a friend who is a Dietitian in rehab- her job is to calculate tube feeds for those who recently had a stroke. Another friend works at Sick Kids, calculating IV nutrition for unweight babies who need to GAIN weight. There are Dietitians who work for Public Health Units, facilitating policy development. There are Dietitians in industry, working with companies to help develop food labels. There are Dietitians in research, coordinating big clinical trials. See? We do much, much more than “weight loss” 🙂

4) (Most of us) don’t judge what you eat

Many of my RD friends can attest to this: you walk into the lunch room at work and your colleagues are covertly stashing their lunch remnants of potato chips and Cheetos, hoping the Dietitian didn’t see their bad choices. Oh puhleeeeease! Have you ever been to a potluck hosted by Dietitians? Yes you have your veggies and hummus, sitting alongside chocolate-covered bacon. I would never judge a person for what they are eating. Food is all about choice. My job is to help facilitate an informed choice, and be a trusted source of information when it comes to healthy eating.

Quinoa... so hot...
Quinoa… so hot…

5) We all hate Dr. Oz.

Yep.

Feature Friday: Ugly Produce

A while back on one of my Market Monday posts, I talked about a French campaign that was selling the “ugly” vegetables and fruits at discounted prices in order to reduce food waste.

I was pleasantly surprised to read this morning about Loblaws hopping on the same bandwagon, introducing a new line of “Naturally Imperfect” produce:

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I LOVE this idea. It really falls in line with my personal views as a Dietitian: Healthy food should be made accessible for people of all budgets, healthy food doesn’t necessarily need to be fancy or “pretty”, and it is important for us to support our local farmers and economy. You can read the Toronto Star’s feature article about the Naturally Imperfect line here.

Have a great weekend! xo