New Year's Diet Questions

By Lisa Andrews Med RD LD


It’s inevitable in the nutrition field. The second someone hears you work as an RD or DTR, the questions start coming. You may be cornered on a flight or at a family gathering. Questions like, “What do you think of the keto diet?”, or “I’m starting a new cleanse after the holidays- which is the best?”, can send most nutrition professionals over the edge. As dietitians and DTRs, we want our clients to have sustainable results, not a flash in the pan fad diet that may lead to weight gain, nutrient deficiencies or eating disorders. Here’s how a few seasoned RDs and DTRs handle these types of quirky New Year’s queries.

Dr. Young, PhD, RD, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim notes, “I get a lot of questions on best diets for the New Year— i.e., What’s my take on keto? Carbs? The way I handle such questions is generally the same— I am not a fan of quick fixes, rigid diets, or cleanses. Rather, I suggest getting back on track with your eating by practicing portion control, mindfulness, and creating a healthy lifestyle. Listen to your body, eat what you like, and pay attention to your internal cues.”

Kellie Blake, RDN, LD, IFNCP, owner of www.nutrisensenutrition.com states, “I typically hear people out, and then ask what their overall goals are. I basically then try to engage them in conversation based on more realistic/effective goals/strategies based on what they desire!”

According to Theresa Gentile, MS, RD, CDN, owner of Full Plate Nutrition www.theresagentilerd.com, “Unless someone tells me they are engaging in behavior that will be deleterious to their health (drinking hot water with lemon every morning is OK; drinking ONLY hot water with lemon instead of eating IS NOT), I don't argue with them. I politely slip in some science-based information in an effort to debunk the quackery. Then I tell them to let me know in a month how it went, and I'll be happy to work with them if (and WHEN) it doesn't!”

Kristin Klinefelter, MS, RD, LD, CLT, owner of Kristin Klinefelter Nutrition Consulting, states she replies with 2 questions: “1. Will your kids or grandkids do this with you? And 2. Will you do this the rest of your life? If no to either, I suggest they focus on finding a lifestyle that works for their whole family for the rest of their life!”.

Vera Bartasavich, M.Ed., NDTR, CHES, owner of Health Education 4U states, “There was a time I walked into a restaurant and at the counter was a sign, “Ask us about negative calories.” A woman in front of me started a discussion how celery was a negative calorie food! Oh my goodness, I wanted to scream! The irony was this was during the 2016 FNCE in Boston. I came from the good vibes of the conference and walked into the scary reality of what the public is exposed to and practicing. I have discussed how fad diets date back to 1820 (first fad diet was low carbohydrates) and during the last 200 years all these fad diets are not sustainable and often dangerous.”

“Anytime family approaches me with some absurd diet, I try to turn it around on what to include more of instead of focusing on what to restrict. You can never go wrong adding more fruits, vegetables, and water to your diet! This provides a double whammy as you build on beneficial nutrients and fiber and also crowd out less nutritious foods and drinks”, states Noelle Schleder, MS, RDN- a renal dietitian for Davita Cadieux.

As long as weight loss and “eating clean” are in vogue, we’ll continue to receive queries on what to eat, especially with New Year’s resolutions. Most nutrition professionals share similar tips. Work on reasonable goals, add more produce, do something sustainable for the whole family, follow scientifically sound principles, pay attention to eating cues, and do no harm. Now if we could just get the rest of the world to listen!