When it comes to dietary health, there’s a myriad of information available to those who are seeking information about proper nutrition, but sifting through that information can be overwhelming, especially if that information is not from a credible source.
Two registered dietitians at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital discussed the hurdles they climb to make sure accurate information is out there for their patients and the wider community so folks can make sound decisions when it comes to their dietary health, highlighting the importance of correct information on National Nutrition Month.
One thing they would like to immediately clear up is the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist, as it could mean getting advice from an accredited, trained source and someone off the street.
“A registered dietician is someone who’s had at least four years of undergraduate studies and has a bachelor’s degree,” said Elizabeth Kauruter, clinical dietician at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. “In addition to a degree, they’ll have a one year-long dietary internship where you’re in the areas where you could work. After that, you have to take an exam to be certified.”
Joanna Zeigler, another clinical dietitian at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, said the problem with people calling themselves nutritionists, despite the fact that there are certification programs available, is that there’s no regulation with the title.
“The problem is that literally everyone can call themselves a nutritionist, and it sounds professional, but some can give all sorts of crazy advice,” said Zeigler.
“A nutritionist can say anything, and there’s really no accountability,” added Kauruter, noting that if a patient is working with a dietician, there are checks and balances in the industry.
“We also have to go through continuing education to maintain our licenses,” said Zeigler.
As dietitians, Kauruter and Zeigler said they often feel like they’re in competition with information patients may receive from the internet, or if someone is successful with a weight-loss program, they feel like they’re experts in the field of nutrition.
“There are so many different things out there with a lot of conflicting information,” said Zeigler. “People get confused when they go online and they’re getting different messages.”
Kauruter said it’s important that when dietitians work with patients, they are working with the patient to come up with a plan that will best work for them.
“It’s not a one size fits all situation (with diet plans),” she said. “(A diet plan) has to be individualized to the person.”
“It has to be individualized for their body type and their medical history,” added Kauruter.
So, popular diets like the popular Keto diet, or the Ketogenic Diet, may be dangerous to those who don’t know all of information about it. This diet calls for foods that are high in fats and low in carbohydrates.
“The Keto diet was originally designed for children who suffer from epilepsy,” said Kauruter. “This diet hasn’t been well researched yet, so it’s not one we would recommend, because we’re not sure of things like heart health ramifications.”
Zeigler said when it comes to diets, if it sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
“If it promises a quick fix, then it’s probably not a good diet to follow,” she said.
If people are interested in working with the dietitians at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, they will need a referral from a primary care physician or another physician with whom they are seeking treatment.
“Though you need a referral, you can call us, and we’re more than happy to help you with the process of getting a referral,” said Zeigler.
For more information, contact Zeigler and Kauruter, contact them at 643-7054.