I recently had a lively online debate with someone who coaches people on weight loss. She maintains that the elimination of a certain food enables people who struggle with weight, to lose it. I challenged this, citing recent scientific studies on the substance but she was adamant, as were a few of her clients who weighed in (no pun intended) on their success. Mind you, after a little information was shared, I learned that they also changed their diets. When you have confounding factors, how can one be so sure of which caused the result?
What about the hundreds of diets out there (check them out: the tapeworm diet – ewww!)? Some reasonable ones, based on what we know about the body’s needs, are healthy. But many diets eliminate nutrients or focus on eating a lot of a particular nutrient, which contradicts everything we in the dietetics field know to be healthy. While every person is unique, we all need protein, carbs, fat vitamins, minerals and water to survive. And the more we learn about phytochemicals, the more we understand how they contribute to optimal health. How we gain, lose and maintain weight is a complicated dance, where genetics, lifestyle, diet, temperament, situation, mental health and attitude all play a role. Most of us eat for reasons other than nutritional needs alone, so adherence to a healthy diet may be affected by what is going on in our lives. How we feel about ourselves plays a big role. Do we feel we “deserve” to be well and healthy?
There is a lot of dubious information out there and many people call themselves a diet counselor without the proper training. Counselors, while they may have the best intentions, must be held accountable for their advice. Even those with the best intentions must be held accountable for their advice. If a person is generally healthy, anyone who is good at coaching can help. But beware the person who is willing to coach someone with medical complications, multiple medications and diseases. using a trained professional ensures that the advice you receive is based on scientific rigor and best practices.
Look for credentials such as RD or DTR, CDN. These credentials guarantee that the practitioner has earned a science-based degree and sat for a national registration exam.