Consider the Source of Your Nutrition Information

Photo by dhester courtesy of morguefile.com

“The doctor will see you now. I’m a nurse,” my daughter said as I walked by her bedroom. She was about 4 at the time.

I guess it’s time for my checkup, I thought to myself.

At my daughter’s kindergarten medical checkup, she received several shots, which were fresh in her mind at the time of our conversation. I was a little wary when I entered her “office.”

“How long is the wait?” I asked as I looked at the line of dolls and stuffed animals.

“They’re going home. They’re healthy now,” she said.

“Here, sign this contract,” she added, thrusting her hands in front of me.

“Sign here and here. Here, too,” she said, pointing at the invisible paperwork.

I didn’t argue. I began signing as well as I could with my invisible pen.

“You’re not signing in the right place. I’ll sign it for you,” she announced.

“Could you send in a lawyer, please?” I asked as she left the room. She quickly returned.

“I’m the doctor. Open your mouth wide. This is really going to hurt,” she said.

I’m sure my eyes widened. I resisted commenting on her bedside manner.

“Are you a dentist or a dietitian now?” I asked as she peered into my mouth.

She grinned.

“So, what do you eat?” she asked.

“I think I eat pretty well. What should I eat?” I responded to her question with a question, a little curious about what she might prescribe.

“You need to have lots of fruits, vegetables, meat and milk so you’ll be healthy,” she said.

“So, are you saying I should skip bread and other grains?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, eat bread, too. You need to have some of everything, except not so many cookies,” she said.

“That’s pretty good advice. How would you like to be a nutrition columnist?” I asked her. Fortunately, I left my spontaneous appointment without a prescription.

Consider the source of your nutrition information. With websites, TV infomercials, email, magazines and numerous other sources, we have more information available to us than ever.

We also have numerous people dispensing nutrition advice, some more qualified than others. Sorting through all the information and deciding what and whom to believe can be complicated.

If you would like to learn about healthful eating, consider this: Consulting a “nutritionist” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting reliable information about food and nutrition.

Many states allow anyone to use the title nutritionist. For a fee, some online businesses will send you a certificate.

In fact, I could have ordered my 4-year-old daughter a certificate designating her as a nutritionist. After all, she’s been quoted online.

In North Dakota, however, a person with the title of licensed nutritionist has completed college coursework in nutrition and has met licensing and continuing education requirements.

A registered dietitian (R.D.) has completed an undergraduate degree with specific science-based courses and internship/practicum hours, and has passed a national examination. A licensed registered dietitian (L.R.D.) has met state licensure continuing education requirements. A licensed nutritionist (L.N.) has completed a specific undergraduate curriculum and has met state licensing requirements.

Extension agents are a good source of research-based nutrition information and classes on a variety of topics. The materials they use are created by registered dietitians or licensed nutritionists. For nutrition information and to find the NDSU Extension Service office nearest you, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/ (click on county Extension offices).

For more information about food and nutrition, see www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart. You can add more fruit to your diet with this simple, tasty recipe.

Fruit Dippers

1/2 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts (or other nuts)
2 c. fruit (grapes, banana slices, apple wedges, chopped strawberries)

Combine yogurt and chopped nuts. Mix with a spoon. Place a toothpick in the center of each piece of fruit and arrange on tray. Serve immediately with dip.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 100 calories, 3 grams (g) of fat, 17 g of carbohydrate and 2 g of fiber.

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