Given that most of us aren’t food scientists or dietitians, it’s common to rely on news reports and informed individuals to share the latest food and nutrition research.

However, not every person with a platform is trustworthy. The Washington Post even reported instances where dietitians posted on social media seemingly endorsing aspartame and sugar without disclosing sponsorship by food and beverage industry groups.

Misinformation in nutrition can range from harmless to potentially harmful, leading individuals to overspend on products, limit important nutrients, or even avoid necessary medications due to believing in a specific diet’s ability to cure a disease.

Journalists without scientific training might misinterpret studies, while influencers, celebrities, or athletes with enviable appearances aren’t necessarily nutrition experts. Seeking advice from a registered dietitian or healthcare professional is essential if you’re unsure about a nutrition suggestion.

As you browse social media, watch out for unrealistic advice or “nutrition secrets” that seem too good to be true. Here are eight red flags to look for:

  1. Advice based solely on personal experience.
  2. Exclusionary recommendations that don’t consider individual circumstances.
  3. Information originating from for-profit companies.
  4. Lack of citations or credible sources.
  5. Reliance on a single study to make bold claims.
  6. Failure to disclose qualifications.
  7. Extreme focus on specific foods or drastic dietary changes.
  8. Dramatic claims of cures or prevention without substantial evidence.

It’s essential to consult with qualified professionals and critically evaluate nutrition information before making significant dietary changes. Registered dietitians can offer personalized guidance tailored to your needs and goals, ensuring a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition.