Dietitians advocate a healthy skepticism to online claims

If you’re like most people, you can be overwhelmed by the amount of nutritional information available online. Different foods and products have all sorts of competing claims to help you lose weight, feel better, or get more energy.

So to sort through the fog surrounding food, the Dietitians of Canada have come up with five simple questions to help people judge whether what they are being told is factual, or full of beans.

“People are really interested in food and nutrition,” said Brooke Bulloch, a spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. “There is so much information … it can be very overwhelming. People wonder how do I decipher the difference,” she told Global News.

“So Dietitians of Canada have come up with five questions … to help you critically look at the information,” she said.

File / Global News

The quick fix, she said, is a very common approach.

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“Weight gains are classic for this – lose so many pounds in a month, or cleanses. Often it costs a lot of money, and really if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is,” said Bulloch.

Another red flag is when there is a product attached to whatever claim you are hearing.

And a third very common technique are personal anecdotes, rather than research.

“Often a celebrity is used as a front line person,” she said. “We want a little more fact behind it.”

“They’ll often use those faces – and just because it works for one person doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you,” she added.

READ MORE: Detox diets, beauty and health tips: are celebrities always wrong?

Another common technique is trumpeting the results of a single study as the latest, greatest thing in nutritional news.

“Really good nutrition advice is based on the best available study, not necessarily the most recent, so take it with a grain salt,” said Bulloch.

And finally, she said, you need to look at the credentials of the people presenting the information.

“We wouldn’t look to a celebrity to build our new traffic bridge, or we wouldn’t get a friend to put a filling in our teeth,” she said.

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“Take a critical look at the information out there, to avoid potentially harmful information, or potentially a lot of money,” said Bulloch.

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