Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Being thin is not a qualification for providing nutrition advice

7 Comments

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Last week a bunch of crossfitters and meatatarians got all worked up because the former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the US organization representing registered nutrition professionals) released a video that essentially warned RDs to watch for people without appropriate credentials providing nutrition advice. Some people evidently felt that she was unworthy to issue such a warning as she did not fit their limited definition of an acceptable body size. There are so many things wrong with this assertion that I don’t even know where to begin.

First, I happen to agree with Beseler (the RD in the video). As I’ve argued in the past, dietitians are regulated healthcare professionals which means that we have to complete a number of requirements to maintain our licencing. Being licenced also means that the public has added protection and recourse in the event that we do provide advice that causes harm. Would the video have more credence if it came from someone slimmer? Let me remind you that being young thin and pretty are not qualifications to provide nutrition advice.

Second, just as being young thin and pretty aren’t qualifications to provide nutrition advice, nor is being old large and unattractive a sign that someone is not qualified to provide nutrition advice. An individual’s appearance is not a reflection of their expertise. Personally, I wouldn’t want to receive nutrition advice from someone who judges others based purely on their size.

Third, I can’t tell from the video what size Beseler is anyway. Her size should be irrelevant anyway. Attacking her based on her weight is bullying. The narrow perception of what bodies are acceptable also shows the narrow-mindedness of the attackers. It also shows the pervasiveness of weight bias in our society. That people are more willing to accept advice from someone who has no nutrition education simply because they fit a thin ideal over someone who is highly credentialed but may not have that “perfect” physique is a sad reflection of our ingrained fear of fat.

Healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. Your worth is not related to your size.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

7 thoughts on “Being thin is not a qualification for providing nutrition advice

  1. Wonderfully put!

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  2. I find more comfort with someone who is large that can relate with the plight of being overweight, the battle to lose it, and show me how to do it. Also, maybe that person has already lost 20, 50, or 100 pounds (who knows?) and that may be EXACTLY the perfectly qualified person to listen to.

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    • I have experienced people saying they would take my advice because I’m thin. I’ve also experienced people saying I don’t know anything about weight management because I’m thin. It goes both ways. I understand the appeal of working with someone who is similar to oneself and who may have lived experience. It’s also important to find a dietitian who you’re comfortable with. However, please keep in mind that personal experience only goes so far and we all have a great deal of training and expertise, regardless of our size.

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  3. Pingback: Call in the food police, we’ve got another unruly body |

  4. Right on – my 174 pound patient was healthier than my 109 pound professional ballerina who was told to lose 10 pounds or fired from the troupe. Health is more important than weight loss! Absolutely! (But I do practice what I preach, :) )

    Liked by 1 person

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