Top 5 red flags to look out for!

As a lecturer, I get asked this question many times. ‘How do I sift through the nutrition information available at the click of a mouse?’

I look out for these!

  1. ‘Drop a dress size in a week’
    Besides raising my eyebrows, I must admit that such claims are click baits, I very rapidly go down the rabbit hole… hoping to stumble on to that sure shot way to drop a dress size.  However, a claim is just that a claim! The reality is that we lose water which is attached to our glycogen stores. Yes, the water weight will drop and maybe that dress will be a size 10 instead of a 12…but sure as shot those pesky rolls will come back!
  2. ‘Will power and a strong mind’
    Really, is it really that simple? Say No to a gooey, yummy brownie and all is well…ummm..actually no! Losing weight is so not about will power and a strong mind, in fact, it is about recognising hunger cues, about cultivating healthy eating and about making healthy food choices. Weight is a complex play between hormones, metabolism and activity. All such statements do is make you feel guilty when scoffing down that decadent brownie!
  3. ‘Super foods’
    Hulled Hemp Hearts, Blueberries, Acai and Goji and the list continues. As a nutritionist, I say ALL foods are super foods! Our food choices should be based on what is in season, what is available within our budget and in and around our local area. Travelling 30km in busy traffic to get 200g of Hemp Hearts that you pay a packet for is unnecessary and seriously negates the benefit of any super food!!
  4. ‘Conflict of interest’
    This is a big one for me. I studied Food Policy and Nutrition as one of my electives, I enjoyed this subject immensely and it opened my eyes wide to potential bias and conflicts of interest. Industry funds research too and of course there is a potential for bias here; in this context, the benefits of supplements on a company website is not a crash hot reference!
  5. ‘It worked for me’
    Delighted for you :-). This, however, does not mean that it will work for me or anyone else. A very common claim, yet personal and anecdotal evidence is a weak form of evidence. In fact, Compound Interest has an interesting article on the types of evidence.


I look for robust scientific evidence in my practice. Yes, I do seek studies with randomised controlled trials but I am aware that the effect of diet is challenging to determine and controlled conditions are not always ethical or feasible.

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