Starving Dietitian

Tip of the Iceberg Lettuce

The world of Dietetics is enormously minuscule, mind the contradiction. Registered Dietitians, R.D.s for short, pop up in just about everyplace where food or medicine is federally funded. Why then do they seem sparse? Go up to your friendly neighborhood stranger and ask them where to go for nutrition advice, the answer in 9.5 out of 10 of them will undoubtedly be “Nutritionist”, condolences to the half person. If you are lucky enough to get the real answer of Registered Dietitian, 50 Bucks says that person works in healthcare.

It’s a strange state of affairs when we no longer know where to get medical advice.

I heard it recently described that going to a “nutritionist” over an RD is akin to going to a “toothologist” over a Dentist, you’d be crazy to open your mouth. Even still, hundreds of thousands of non-credentialed health “experts” rake in combined millions each year providing health advice to vulnerable people. There are hundreds of reasons I could go into, and maybe over the course of time I will, but not today.

Today I’ll give the #1 reason people criticize Dietitians.

The conversation might go something like this;

“Hey Jane, have you heard of this crazy new Fatkins Diet? I lost 10 lbs in 2 days!”

“Oh really? That’s  impressive! Is it safe?”

“Well, it’s brand new but it seems totally safe so far.”

Jane familiar with the role of Dietitians

“What does the A.N.D. (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) say about it?”

“Well, they don’t support it since it’s brand new, but they’re just behind the times!”

SCENE

The problem is that this critique could be made for every single field of science.

It is more accurate to say that a goldfish has the memory capacity of society rather than the other way around. Despite hearing about scientist after scientist who revolutionized their field to the sound of curses, fisticuffs,  and banishment, people still forget that science doesn’t and shouldn’t change overnight. Just as Einstein faced an uphill battle to get his ideas accepted, so too do new ideas that contradict Einsteins theories. If you recall from 2011 when scientists thought they measured neutrinos going faster than light, the response was outrage and jeering rather than “Hmm, we should take another look at that before we rule it out”. Of course the saner minds did look into it and eventually debunked it. Science must be measurable and repeatable.

There is a fine line in science between viewing new information through the lens of old evidence and dogma. The most recent example is the craze for Paleo and Ketogenic Diets. I will take much closer looks at both of these diets in the future but scientifically speaking, both struggle with having enough supporting evidence. Convincing everyone standing on a iceberg to jump to an icecube because it “feels warmer” is not the model we want for evidence based practice. Just as an MD cannot ethically treat based off of a handful of studies, so too should RDs instruct using the prevailing evidence. Good medicine practices the proven, but prepares for change. 

Keep an open mind and be good to each other.

-J. Iufer

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