Truth in Social

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Meet Samantha Goren, Registered Dietitian

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As you know (because this is my website and if you don’t go to my bio here) I am Amanda Lapidus, Registered Dietitian.  I specialize in Digestive health (IBS, celiac, Crohns, sore tummies all that stuff), healthy weight management and women’s health issues. 

I read this article in the Financial Times recently and it wisely explained that “those with the most power on social media have the least knowledge, and those with the most knowledge have the least power.”  Well…ya…except for Gwyneth, because she’s qualified and powerful.

Sammy and I have spent countless hours discussing how the internet, specifically social media, has changed what it’s like to be a dietitian (a.k.a. nutritionist).   I’ll stop here for one second to clarify something: Dietitians can automatically call themselves nutritionists, while nutritionists may not automatically call themselves dietitians.  In most of Canada (except Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), the U.K., Australia, and most of the U.S., the title “nutritionist” is not a protected title.  To call yourself a nutritionist you are not required to have any formal education.  That said, there are some excellent nutritionists and some terrible dietitians out there.  It’s not like West Side Story; I don’t have a long-standing rivalry with all of the nutritionists out there. If anyone is still reading and you would like more information on how nutrition practitioners are trained and more of my rambling on the topic, scroll to the bottom*.

When you look on Instagram, for example, you may notice that there are a billion (yup, 1 billion) nutritionists dishing out information on what to eat and what supplements to take.  FYI, did you know that according to “Freelee the Banana Girl,” losing your period is a good thing because it means you have officially cleansed your body of all the toxins?  Spoiler alert: She’s wrong.  Ask any obstetrician…or adult, or maybe even a toddler!  I digress.  What was I talking about?  Oh right, Sammy.  So, Sammy and I have talked a lot about the amount of time we invest in clarifying what is right and what is, well, yet to be confirmed.   Last week it was all about whether or not drinking colostrum (yes that’s a real thing) would help with weight loss because that's the type of thing that Instagram tells people to do.  We decided that something had to be done and thus Truth in Social was born.  Well actually, I said Truth in Social Media but Sammy said that it was too long (sorta like this post) and so it was shortened to Truth in Social.  Not only do we hear fake nutrition information, but we’re tired of feeling crappy because all we see are perfect bodies, green smoothies, kale and chicken breasts. Guys, for real, when you post that stuff, stop and think about it for one second, someone is receiving that on the other end.  How will your post make them feel?  I know, I know, you can’t be responsible for other peoples’ feelings but you can be a responsible poster.  Sammy and I are asking you to join us in our mission to post nicely, post responsibly and post truthfully.  Oh, and use this hashtag #truthinsocial (did I write hashtag hashtag?).  Also, post what you know.  If there's no evidence to prove it, don’t tell me to drink from a cow’s teat (cows have teats, right?).    

*Warning rant ahead.  I would like to take a moment to say that I do not believe that being a Registered Dietitian makes me a superior or smarter practitioner.  I do not always agree with things said or done by Dietitians of Canada (DC), and in fact,  Canadian dietitians do not have to be members of DC.  We must be members of our provincial college (for me that is The College of Dietitians of Ontario).  Contrary to common belief,  as a dietitian I do not just handout Canada's Food Guide nor do I have a copy of it in my office.  Dietitians practice preventative and "holistic" nutrition when given the opportunity but are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to evaluate labs and help treat medical conditions.  I have been trained to know interactions and effects of prescription, and non-prescription medications and to know where my boundaries lie.  My concern for unqualified and unregistered individuals providing nutrition information lies in public safety and professional accountability.  If the nutrition practitioner practices responsibly and professionally? Great! I mean, if I have to pay almost $1000 in dues every year to protect the public from little old me why do the nutritionists get to do it all for free?

Types of nutrition people include:
Most of the initials used in the nutrition specify the school the individual attended. 
The schools are trademarked and not professional designations.

Registered Holistic Nutritionists (RHN)
•    a registered trademark, not a professional designation
Training required:
•    Trained by the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN)
•    complete one year of coursework and 50 hours of practicum experience including case-studies interview skills
•    Final standardized exam across Canada

Holistic Nutritionist/Registered Nutritionist/Nutritionist
Training required:
•    none

If the information I have here is incorrect or out of date please let me know.  I am happy to update the post and am always looking to update my brain : ).