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Dealing with online food information wars

Dana Herra, editor of DeKalb’s Midweek paper, wrote last week about her frustrations with the massive amount of conflicting nutrition advice she found on the Internet when trying to learn about healthy eating.

This is a common concern that I have heard from many people over the years. Not only can the slew of nutrition information and advice given online be extremely overwhelming, but a lot of the time the advice lacks reputable research and is merely the personal opinions of those writing it.

Nutrition can be a pretty sensitive topic. Many people have very strong personal beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is considered healthy or not. It’s difficult to gather basic healthy eating tips without getting caught in the middle of these food/morality wars.  

Here are my tips for surviving the cosmos of online nutrition information:

 - Make sure it’s from a reputable source. This is sometimes tough to discern, but typically universities, professional affiliates (American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), and registered dietitians are the best sources of trustworthy and reputable nutrition information.  

 - If there is a product attached to it, the claims are probably too good to be true. Many dietary supplements and health products may claim and list research backing their products, as well as professionals to tout the product as the answer to all your health needs.  Be leery of this type of information and be sure to research it more before moving forward.

 - Look for specific recommendations from registered dietitians or those who work in the field of nutrition research.  These are your true nutrition experts.

 - Make note of what’s most important to you when it comes to healthy eating. If something you find speaks to you (organics, sustainability, veganism, etc.), then research it more before making assumptions and changes in lifestyle. Don’t believe the first thing you read online about it. Again, consider your source of information.

 - Remember that one research study doesn’t give us all the answers. Scientists, scholars, and health professionals look at multiple study results before providing recommendations based on their findings. 

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