I have long been frustrated by what I hear from my many friends who seek out registered dietitians, because so many of them seem clueless about my experience and the multitudes of others whose experience is similar.
"Eat everything in moderation, and you'll be fine," is the worst; as advice, it's accurate but tone-deaf. For many people with weight concerns who consult registered dietitians, that's as good as saying, "do that thing you haven't been doing, even though you know you should, even though you've been trying to, sometimes for years." Thanks for the help, Ms. RD.
As a group, RDs do not come close to acknowledging that some foods, especially some processed foods, have a role in why people overeat, time after time, despite waking up with the resolve, once again, to "be good today."
I don't have one of those RDs advising me, so I have taken a different route. Based on her belief that some people have difficulty tolerating some foods and her advice that I pay attention to my experiences, I have concluded that salted, fatted popcorn is one of those foods for me (and if it's not salted and fatted, I like it a lot less). I used to be able to eat it in moderation as part of a well-defined food plan, but over time I started bending my guidelines until they had been mangled beyond all recognition. By the end, while still believing I was handling it, I had transmuted my guidelines from a measured portion to allowing it only when I went to the movies, because, you know, popcorn is appropriate there. And then came the day when I went to the theater without checking listings or showtimes, because I knew I was going regardless. I chose a film I'd already seen and only mildly enjoyed, because it was the least objectionable popcorn-enabling choice. And then I told them to drench it with butter, of course. Yes, that was my "measured" portion of fat by then: "drenched."
The only reliable way I have to avoid another occurrence of that spiral is not to eat popcorn at all. Yes, I like popcorn, and in a world where I could eat it without consequence, I would choose to. But what I gain from choosing not to eat popcorn — the obsessive thoughts, not to mention the calories — is far more valuable to me than what I derive from chowing on a bucket that's been treated with as much butter and salt as I can stand.
This is just one example, and is, actually, a bit of digression from my original intent, which is to point toward Clare Leschin-Hoar's piece on Grist from the recent national meeting of the American Dietetic Association, in which she reports on the many corporate sponsorships — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, and a raft of others — that support the meeting and influence breakout sessions, such as the one that talks about the "good" processed foods.
The ADA, which just rechristened itself the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, effective in January, has about 72,000 members, many of them RDs. It should surprise no one that an organization that gets mondo funding from food processors would hesitate to suggest that some foods, especially processed foods, aren't part of a wholesome diet, at least not for a great many people.