Preventive Health

Watch for red flags in nutrition claims

Headlines scream: “Eat This, NOT That!” Or “Top 10 Foods You Should Never Eat Again!”

These kinds of messages seem to bombard us every time we go online or turn on the television. That makes it difficult and confusing to figure out what is accurate nutrition information and what isn’t.

So, here are a few red flags to help spot false nutrition information.

Promises a quick fix

The truth is, quick fixes are not sustainable. There’s no miracle solution to health or weight loss. It’s all about small, gradual lifestyle changes to reach your health and wellness goals.

So, if it promises a quick fix, stay skeptical.

Sounds too good to be true

These claims are often made on dietary supplements that promise something like “quick, easy weight loss without diet or exercise!” Or maybe you’ve heard that eating chocolate every day aids in weight loss.

Regardless of the claim, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Advice not backed up by credible organizations

Bottom line: if a reputable organization doesn’t stand behind the information, neither should you.

Make sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources. Credible nutrition-related organizations include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Heart Association and American Institute for Cancer Research, just to name a few. And all of them have information available online.

As a general rule of thumb, websites ending in .gov or .org are more reliable than those ending in .net or .com.

Lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods

There are no superfoods. Nor are there foods that are exclusively bad for you.

Of course, we want to limit things like added sugar, sodium and saturated fat, but there’s no food that’s going to make or break your diet.

Ultimately, everything can fit in a well-balanced diet in moderation. Use as your guide, choose healthier options most of the time – and indulge occasionally.

Based on a single study or animal studies

Science is constantly progressing, so new studies surface all the time, often ending up on your news feed. But solid nutrition recommendations come from multiple studies and years of research. One single study is not be enough to justify completely changing your lifestyle and eating habits.

Also, take note that animal studies can’t really be used to make nutrition recommendations for humans. Animals and humans aren’t exactly the same – our bodies work differently. So don’t jump to conclusions! Just because something may cause cancer in animals doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to cause cancer in humans.

Meanwhile, talk to real experts

There’s a lot of information to sift through on television, in magazines and on the web.

Ultimately, make sure you’re getting your nutrition information from credible sources, and steer clear of any information that raises red flags. If you’re still left with questions, it’s best to ask the nutrition experts – registered dietitians.

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