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Week 1: Food Fads: Spot the problem, get the facts, and seek support!

March is Nutrition Month! In 2017, we are dedicated to helping you Take the Fight out of Food by introducing a three-step approach to improve your ability to make informed decisions about food and nutrition. The three steps include:

Spot the problem. Identify what questions or concerns you have about food and nutrition.
Get the facts. Use facts from credible sources to decide what needs to be done to address the question or concern.
Seek support. Put the plan into action with support from a Registered Dietitian, family, coworkers, and/or friends.

This week, we are looking at common struggles with food fads.

Spot the problem.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by all the nutrition information that you hear about? Have you ever felt confused and not sure what information is credible and what should be ignored? Is a detox cleanse effective? Should you invest in the latest new superfood or miracle supplement? Navigating around the vast amount of nutrition information can be very confusing as you try to make the best choices for you and your family.

 Get the facts.
Choose credible sources for your nutrition information. While there is a lot of good information out there, there are also many false recommendations that promise health and wellness but don’t have any supporting research. Online sources can be especially troublesome. Ask the following questions when you are trying to determine the credibility of the online information you’re reading:

  • Who runs the website? Can you trust them?
  • Is it selling something? Who funds the website?
  • Do the recommendations sound too easy, too good to be true?
  • Where does the information come from? Is it based on more than one clinical study? Was the study done on animals or humans? How recent is the research?
  • Is the information reviewed by a panel of professionals in the field? Is there an editorial board?

After asking these questions, if there are too many red flags or unanswered concerns, steer clear. Instead, check the list of reliable websites we have provided with this week’s Challenge to access credible information.

Seek support.
Not everyone with an opinion about food and nutrition can be trusted. Instead, it’s important to look for websites that rely on science rather than opinions and personal stories. If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, the website may not be reliable: 

  • Are the website writers unqualified to be giving me nutrition information?
  • Do they have facts that sound too good to be true?
  • Does the information come from personal opinions rather than scientific evidence?
  • Is the content missing reviews or verification from regulated health care professionals?
  • Are the website claims based on a single study that may draw the wrong conclusion?

If you are having difficulty sorting through the nutrition maze, consult a regulated health care professional, who can give you more insight. There are also many trustworthy, credible, and reputable websites in general that you can access for nutrition information. For example:

Additionally, to find out more about nutrition and health myths, fads, and frauds, visit Quackwatch. It critically examines the latest health fads, products, services, and alternative medicine, using evidence-based research to inform the public.

For any health issues, you should always discuss your options and treatment plans with your regulated health care provider instead of relying only on the internet for information.

Did you know?
Almost half (49%) of Canadians report getting health and nutrition information from the internet, social media, or blogs. It’s therefore very important to make sure only credible nutrition information is accepted, followed, and shared!

Ready for this week’s Challenge?

To accept the Challenge, answer the Milestone for Monday, March 6. Come back on Wednesday, March 8th  to answer the Week 1 Trivia Questions for a chance to win a gift card!

Tip of the week: Need an answer to a question about food or nutrition? Call EatRight Ontario to speak with a Registered Dietitian. Call toll-free: 1-877-510-5102. Phone lines are open 9am-5pm ET Monday to Friday.

Evening hours Tuesday and Thursday to 9pm ET.

Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.NutritionMonth2017.ca.