This is something that has been on my mind for awhile now. Don’t get me wrong, I love (and sometimes love/hate) Instagram as much as the next person, but social media comes with its own unique set of responsibilities and concerns.
It’s amazing that there is such a strong community of food/health/wellness accounts sharing recipes, inspiration, bright smoothies and salads, and ooey gooey cookies too. Not everyone loves a good #foodstagram, but so many people do! Sometimes, though, that picture of lunch comes with information and advice about health and wellness practices or products. So many people love to share their tips and tricks for good health. Spreading knowledge is a great thing, but intstagram doesn’t come with citations. It can be so hard to know what’s truth and what’s nonsense.
This platform has also given anyone the opportunity to gain a massive audience based on photography….not necessarily expertise. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you scroll before you go ahead and shun gluten while sipping butter filled coffee (maybe it’s good!…I just don’t drink coffee)…
*The term “nutritionist” is not regulated. What does this mean? Anyone can be a nutritionist. Right now. Whether you’ve had years of school or you’ve just read a health magazine, you can claim this title. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every nutritionist is uneducated, but it means you need to do your research. If someone has a blog or website in their bio, click the link and find the about section to read their background and decide if that is a person you trust.
* Beware of ads. You likely already know this, but people get paid to promote things on Instagram! Again, lots of people do this well. I follow plenty of accounts that are super transparent and only promote products they use and like, but always know in the back of your mind that money could be driving the positive remarks about a product. Do your own research before you try something new.
*Learn people’s personal philosophies. This is a major personal opinion as an RD2be…but I feel like ‘nutritionist’ is becoming the new ‘it’ thing, and I have seen many health accounts with massive followings somewhat bashing Registered Dietitians. Their claim is that the traditional dietetics education is outdated – that it’s all about low fat and calorie counting and more traditional diet approaches that are not so desirable. Sure, maybe some dietitians have this mentality, but some nutritionists or health coaches might as well, and plenty of dietitians are innovative and forward thinking. It is SO important to get to know the individual rather than judge a field as a whole. My graduate program is full of brilliant, open-minded professors who teach us what we are required to know, but also share newer opinions and approaches. It’s also important to note that some of this “outdated” thinking is necessary in clinical situations. We have to learn it for hospital use – it doesn’t mean that we live by calorie counts. (And biochemistry does not become outdated. Period.) So stay away from stereotypes and look at personal philosophy – it varies so much in any field!
Now you tell me! What makes someone credible on Instagram in your mind? Who do you trust? What are your red flags? I think this is so important to be aware of!