Up to now, it would be wrong to describe this as sparring, because you have to have a partner for that. In the recent past, I’ve been opining, and someone whom I’ll keep nameless has been vehemently dismissing my perspective. Not just disagreeing, but dissing, and responding to claims I don't make and beliefs I don't hold.
OK, sure, it’s just another moment in social media.
But his last couple of comments have been worming into my serenity, until I decided today to address them. But I’m not just talking to him.
He thinks, apparently, that I’m seeking to give people professional advice on nutrition, and he finds that impertinent, horrifying, and unacceptable. Very clearly, I am not a nutritionist, and I have long been clear where my “authority” lies. I want my readers to know, so they can make up their own minds.
So here it is again: My training and professional experience was as a journalist. I practiced it for more than 30 years, during which time I never sought or earned any certification regarding nutrition. From childhood and into that period, I gained and lost hundreds of pounds, experiencing the multi-fanged misery that I have always equated with being obese. (Long ago, I wrote a collection of my assumptions, one of which is, "Being fat sucks." I did this so I didn't have to lengthen my lengthy posts by restating common themes.)
In my early 30s, I was finally led to a path that allowed me to lose the weight — about 160 pounds — and keep it off — for more than 30 years. I do not claim greatness, or even cleverness, from my experiences. In fact, it was mistaken belief in my great cleverness that led me ever downward, and surrender of that belief that let me experience the broad changes that have included freedom from obesity.
As most people know, losing a lot of weight and keeping it off is fairly rare. I think many people who try to lose weight and keep it off, but have failed, would be interested in hearing the experiences of someone who has; it’s why I wrote my first book, “Fat Boy Thin Man.” The second paragraph makes my “authority,” as I perceive it, quite clear. “Well, I’m no guru.”
Despite consistent commercial advice to present myself as an oracle, I’ve avoided any hint that I have professional nutritional credential.
On that score, I will state, again, that I have a wonderful nutritionist, Theresa Wright of Renaissance Nutrition in East Norriton, Pa. She has been helping me cope with our processed-food, relentlessly marketed obesogenic world for about 20 years. I put great stock in her caring advice, and have referred her, as well as a small group of other nutritionists whom I believe in, myriad times. (Go to this link if you want to see the whole list. Please be in touch if you think your nutritionist deserves to be on the list. Or if you’re a nutritionist and think you belong there.) So the facts show that I believe in nutritional advice.
But I’ll also say, again: Why would I *want* to have credentials as a dietitian? As an institution, it’s pretty much a failure: Two out of three adults, and one out of three children. are obese or overweight. Is that the fault of dietitians? No, and it would be unfair to say otherwise. But it sure is hard to see how the institution of nutritional advice-giving is leading to healthy nutrition in a macro view.
I think it is very supportable to opine, meanwhile, that the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, the licensing body that fights tooth and claw to retain its monopoly on registering dietitians, has little credibility. For a long time, ten percent of its budget came from Big Food — Coke, and Pepsi, and McDonald’s, and others — and its annual trade show has had huge exhibits from all of them on the floor. (I don't know if this is still true. Its website no longer lists them as sponsors, which may or may not mean they're not. I have queried AND and will update if I receive a reply. I do know that AND's leadership defended the relationships for many years.)
I opine that Big Food is a leading cause of overeating and undernutrition, and therefore should be the foe of a group that insists it has sole authority to advise us on nutrition. Instead, it’s on their payroll.
Professionally, I have had opportunity to ask RDs why they belong to such an organization, and the reply is pretty uniform: "I have to belong so I can be an RD, which I trained for. I don’t respect the organization’s accepting money like that, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
So there you have it. I'm not an RD, and have no other like credential. I have experience that may or may not justify my opinions. You decide. But please, be respectful. I try to be.