AND Corporate Sponsorship_ReportWhat expectations do you have of your chosen nutrition professional? How do you know if you are seeing the type of expert that best suits your needs? Are you happy with the services available to you?

The answers to these questions come down to a matter of individual philosophy and personal preference. The real crucial aspect is to be able to pick your practitioner with some measure of knowledge and understanding. Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Nutrition Consultants (NCs) will have different approaches to solving your issues and their focus will be on different facets of your journey towards improved health.

Registered Dietitians are practitioners that have been trained within the medical model of disease management. They are instructed to aid doctors in the management of some chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The more advanced concept of health-giving nutrition focused on organically grown foods that are also kind to the environment is absent from this model. There is, for instance, no emphasis on avoiding certain damaging substances that have been introduced into our food supply and are becoming a public health hazard. Theirs is a conventional, outdated model that spotlights disease control after the fact.

In addition, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) operates its own political action committee and it has, in recent years, launched a campaign to thwart other nutrition professionals from dispensing advice no matter how advanced their credentials. The AND governs all RDs and excludes any other nutrition professionals. Many have correctly recognized this move as an attempt to create a monopoly for just one type of practice excluding every other philosophy. Most troublesome is the fact that the AND is capable of intense lobbying due to its strong ties with corporations such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Abbott and Unilever. Companies such as these, deeply involved in the promotion of unhealthy GMO laden products, sponsor the AND with millions of dollars in contributions and expect a certain level of reciprocity. They are rewarded in the form of skewed nutritional advice that prominently showcases their products. Other questionable food giants that consort with the AND are McDonald’s, Sara Lee, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, McNeil Nutritionals, SOYJOY, The Sugar Association and ConAgra Foods. Unfortunately, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics earns additional revenue from these corporations by selling space at its booths during their conventions, allowing soft drink and candy manufacturers to be prominently featured.

Laws similar to this one leave prospective patients with fewer options. Read more about how this law affected a nutrition consultant practicing in the state of North Carolina:

On the other hand, if you decide to go with a Nutrition Consultant you should be aware of their experience and accreditation. Ideally, a qualified NC has successfully completed a reputable program that includes a practicum as an integral part of their training. You should be looking for a highly trained individual with a post baccalaureate degree in holistic nutrition. A competent Nutrition Consultant also keeps abreast of the newest developments in the ever changing field of nutrition and wellness by attending conferences and taking courses to update his or her credentials. Holistic nutrition moves beyond the basic dietary recommendations by also taking into account environmental concerns that directly impact the quality of the food consumed.

Be proactive and research you chosen professional to learn more about their education. The goal is to find a practitioner who understands your concerns and treats your individual issues with empathy and respect.

Where you source your nutritional advice is of paramount importance for your health and well-being. Refrain from following suggestions from unaccredited gym instructors, yoga teachers, health food store employees and the like. Although certainly well meaning, this type of superficial recommendations are mere generalizations and do not take you as an individual into account. Moreover, they can potentially cause harm in the long run.

Read more at the Huffington Post: What Happens When Dietitians Learn About Nutrition From Big Food?