I spent the first decade of my professional career working as an advertising executive. People loved giving me suggestions for future ads or asking why pharmaceutical commercials involved people running in fields while a soothing voiceover announced scary side effects. At no time did I ever encounter anyone actively trying to do my job. When I decided to pursue becoming a dietitian, I noticed one shocking and disturbing fact: I was hustling for years going to school full-time, taking the proper route toward becoming a credentialed Registered Dietitian, yet there were people who had never taken a single nutrition course touting themselves as “Wellness Professionals” doling out nutrition advice all across cyberspace. The hardest pill to swallow is that people actually listened to them!
These days, the letters after your name don’t seem to matter as much as the followers you have on social media. Your “influence” now determines your level of expertise—or at least the media has decided this is the case, given the exposure celebrities and bloggers with large followings receive. However, the recent IFIC Food & Health Survey reveals that 83% of Americans have little or no trust in advice given from celebrities about food and diet, and named Registered Dietitians as the most trusted source of nutrition information. So why aren’t dietitians getting the exposure commensurate with this level of trust?
This, my dietitian colleagues, is where I ask a favor of all of you. It is time we SPEAK UP and BE LOUDER about our knowledge and expertise. From your immediate social circles, to the community, social media channels, and beyond. It’s time we, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, become THE go-to nutrition experts. Whether you blog, ‘gram, tweet, or counsel patients face-to-face every day, be the voice of sound science among the nonsensical clutter. Use your influence to empower consumers to make smarter choices when it comes to their health, and make sure they mention it was a Registered Dietitian who helped them.
We must continue seeking allies and endorsements about our expertise from respected medical professionals in the media and elsewhere. We need to continue partnering with manufactures and marketing companies to become influencers in the food/beverage/health industry and among consumers. Dietitians are more than just nutritionists with higher education and clinical experience. We are THE health and wellness experts, and it is time we make our influence known.