- What has worked for one person, may or may not work for another.
- What is true and scientifically evident today, may or may not be true a few months down the road.
- What may be the gold standard in the field, may or may not be relevant to your situation and your personal health.
More than ever, we are bombarded by so many food fads and nutrition (mis)information in media with bold claims and flashy words — all of which can steer us into making decisions or even developing beliefs that are flat out not true or scientifically well grounded. The question is, can we really find true and reliable information online?
Yes, we can still separate facts from fiction! Let me tell you how. Read on!
You all may have been affected by misinformation and fad diets; however, I can walk you through a three-step process that you can use to spot the problem and take informed actions to resolve it.
Let’s take a case study of a client, Loraine. Loraine is struggling to make sense of the nutrition advice she read online and wants nutrition facts she can trust. She read some information online for controlling her diabetes from progressing; however, she could not decide if the information was scientifically supported.
First Step: Spot the Problem!
Loraine is overwhelmed by the amount of information she read online.
Second Step: Get the facts!
She was reading some information, tips, and tricks on controlling her diabetes. Loraine read some information on Dietitians of Canada website but she also came across some pop information on a website that was run by sugar processing plants.
To think more critically, Loraine should ask herself these questions when she’s reading a website:
1. Is the website promising a quick fix or a miracle cure?
If it does then skip it – there’s no such thing as a magical solution
2. Do I have reasons to mistrust the person, organization or company that runs the website?
Or in other words, are they giving information that could be a conflict of interest?
3. Are they trying to sell me something instead of educating me?
If you’re reading information on a company’s website that sells smoothies or protein bars, they’re not going to give you the full picture when comparing products and whether it’s actually beneficial for YOU!
4. Are the website writers unqualified to be giving me advice?
Remember, random acronyms and “credentials” are not an automatic indication. Have you seen those $20 nutrition certificates on Groupon? Seriously… don’t be fooled by that, please.
5. Do they have facts that sound too good to be true?
Rule of Thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Does the information come from personal opinions rather than scientific evidence?
Personal stories are fun and engaging, but they’re not ground for evidence. If anything they’re closer to feeding propaganda than sharing information that’s true. That said, we all have personal stories that are relevant and we all want to feel like we’re actually understood – personal stories can help with that, as long as they’re not the only basis to someone’s advice.
7. Is the content missing reviews or verification by medical experts?
The information that’s referenced shouldn’t stand alone.
8. Are the website claims based on a single study that may draw the wrong conclusion?
And of course, one study, one sample, or a small study done on animals will not be sufficient to provide advice to everyone… this could do serious harm.
If Loraine asks these questions and finds her answers are yes; then the information is probably not reliable and trustworthy.
Third Step: Seek Support
Now, Loraine knows that not everyone is competent and reliable to give nutrition advice. Instead, she will look for sites that aren’t trying to sell her something. Rather, she’ll rely on websites that are backed by science rather than opinions. She will check the credentials of the writers. Additionally, Loraine will look for sites written by regulated health professionals whose work other experts review.
Do you sometimes feel like you are drowning in misinformation too? If there’re any articles, research or information you learn about and want to run it by me, please feel free to email me! Click on the button below to submit an inquiry.