What good is an RD’s opinion?
Our opinions – they do not matter. Hear me out.
What we personally think about alternative sweeteners, grains, and organic foods– this does not matter. We are not the “body of evidence” or the final authority on how people “should” eat. Our opinions may be based on years of research (hopefully) or they may be based on the latest nutrition trend (unfortunately). So, our opinions: they may stink.
Our opinions, however, carry a LOT of credibility.
Our profession touts us as “THE food and nutrition expert” and holds us aside, seemingly on a pedestal when compared to other health professionals and educational tracks. We have years of schooling and internships to teach us to interpret, and sometimes perform, research studies. This training does set us apart and people seek out our opinions; but it does not make our opinion valuable to anyone other than ourselves.
There is a need for education about food and nutrition – many people are misinformed, lack an deep understanding of science and physiology, and have been led to the dark side of junk science and the business of selling health. We cannot be a part of this problem RDs! Please stop telling people what they should eat to be: good, pure, healthy, clean, and angelic. Please stop telling people about how we personally eat and which foods are bad, toxic (really??) and the devil personified.
It’s just food. And our opinions have no place in someone else’s dietary choices (except maybe our partners or children… and boy-hardy don’t they feel lucky to live with RDs #sarcasm).
Our job, our role, what we have been trained and educated to do, is to evaluate the research, separate the invalid bull from the valid conclusions, and share what we, as a field of study, currently know about food and nutrition. Yes, you may have to actually read a bunch of peer-reviewed research studies. #sorrynotsorry.
I learned a valuable lesson during my internship: the opinion of the person asking for your opinion is what really matters. People ask for an RD’s opinion to have their beliefs confirmed or to receive praise for “correct” choices. The trouble is that getting asked for our opinion gives us a launching pad to talk about our ideas – and don’t we all love doing that? Sure we do! But next time, take a beat and say, “That’s an interesting question and I can certainly give you some information; but let me first ask what you think about that?”
I’d wager that the conversation doesn’t come back around to our opinions at all.
Our actions should be in service to our clients.
Let’s try to stop focusing on being right, stop talking so much, and start listening more. Let’s focus on helping people be real with their food choices instead of making them feel “bad” for not eating “right.” Let’s use our expertise to give people evidence-based information instead of our opinions.
Let’s help people in the way that RDs really excel – by knowing and keeping up with the ever-changing body of evidence and by helping people figure out how to apply the information relevant to them to their unique lives in a way that supports a physically and emotionally healthy long-term relationship with food and nutrition.
Now, go forth and be awesome!