• Felicia Newell, RD(c), Nutritionist

Food Fads: Ugh! How do I know which information to trust?


Let’s face it. Not everything we read online is true. And while many of us know that, it’s still easy to be taken in by popular ideas we see online or hear from friends. How can we really separate food fact from fiction?

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Misinformation affects many of my clients, but there is a way to spot your problem and seek reliable information. I’m going to walk you through an example of a three-step problem-solving approach that was developed for Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month 2017 campaign Take the Fight out of Food, which works quite well for nutritional concerns.

Let’s call this client Leanne. She was struggling to make sense of the nutrition advice she read online and wanted nutrition facts she could trust.

1) Spot the problem: There is so much nutrition information online and Leanne is not sure how to tell if something is a fad! She doesn’t know what to believe.

2) Get the facts: Leanne learns that some websites are more reliable than others. She found a resource on the Dietitians of Canada website that can help her determine if facts she reads online are accurate. She was reading websites and absorbing information, but not all of it was true. She needs to be more critical and ask herself these questions when she’s reading a website:

  • Is the website promising a quick fix or a miracle cure? 

  • Do I have reasons to mistrust the person, organization or company that runs the website? 

  • Are they trying to sell me something instead of educating me?

  • 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 by medical experts? 

  • Are the website claims based on a single study that may draw the wrong conclusion?

Now Leanne knows that if she answers “yes” to most of these questions, the website may not be