Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Being thin is not a qualification for providing nutrition advice

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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.


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The other side of weight discrimination

20130609-133533.jpgSomething that’s been percolating in my mind over the last little while is the concept of weight discrimination.

There were two things that got me to thinking about this topic. The first was a survey I completed for the Yale Rudd Centre. They were looking for people’s opinions and experiences pertaining to weight and discrimination. There was a question about whether or not you’d experienced bullying (or something to that effect) as a result of your weight as a child. I said yes. The survey implicitly assumed that it was due to my being overweight. There was no opportunity to clarify that I was sometimes picked-on because I was underweight.

The second thing that got me thinking about the subject was the cartoon shown above. Someone had posted it on Facebook. I found it offensive. I would never post anything (cartoon or otherwise) that stated being thin was superior to being large. I’m sure that many people would be outraged. So, why on earth do some people think that it’s okay to insult people for being skinny??

We all have naturally different body shapes and sizes. Please consider the impact of your words and actions on others. Weight discrimination can go both ways. Whether you’re fat or thin it can still hurt.