Are we judging health professionals by the number of social media followers?

I was recently asked by a lovely young lady the following: “So, you’re a qualified dietitian and have addressed so many topics over your blog and Facebook page, have helped hundreds yet you haven’t even hit 1K yet on Instagram? Why?” I was a little confused…Slide1

See, I never really made it a mission to get more likes or hits (well, I can’t deny that I’m not loving the amount of traffic my website attracts) except for wanting to spread the right nutrition advice and knowledge across continents because of simply being fed-up with fadvocates taking advantage of people. Throughout my career, I have witnessed hundreds of wellness gurus take the world by storm, yet charging an arm and a leg for a consult and preaching pseudoscience. On the other hand, we’ve got qualified dietitians, including myself, having to fight our way in a sea of questionable practitioners where balanced eating and moderation is not sexy enough.

So what is it with pretty food photos and #paleo#vegan#glutenfree that draw hundreds of people in? My guess is, we have become a trend-obsessed society especially when it comes to health and nutrition, and my god is social media a powerful tool for spreading nonsense. Balance doesn’t sound sexy enough but cutting out grains and adding exotic ingredients to your menu like chia seeds, coconut oil and bee pollen is a massive turn on! Pretty food photos are an absolute inspiration and motivation for many, including myself but are we all equipped with exceptional cooking skills, time and a top of the range SLR? I am not (well, a little above average cooking skills…). But then, it starts with a pretty photo, a label or diet, then a little advice here and there and how your recipes have helped you lose weight, beat the bloat or cure cancer and voila! Your flock approaches. You are now viewed as an expert in food, nutrition and possibly health, have managed to score media deals and have crossed into the “no go” zone in terms of providing nutrition advice to the public, purely for the sake of publicity and attention. This here my friends, is the story of way too many popular food bloggers meddling in the areas of health and nutrition.

Now, my answer to that young girl’s question was this: The number of followers doesn’t define me as a dietitian and what I’ve accomplished when it came to the thousands of people I have helped throughout my career. However, this made me realise that so many out there are beginning to judge others, especially in the areas of health and nutrition, based on whether they’ve made it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I have overheard conversations of people going “I don’t know, I don’t think she’s as good as ******* when it comes to weight loss or asking her for a consult because have a look at *******’s feed! She’s got a hot bod, a six pack, over 30K followers and her recipes look delicious!” T.R.U.E. S.T.O.R.YLikes

Bottom line is, dietitians continue to be undervalued and are portrayed as a tribe of “whiners” who want to discredit so called revolutionaries of healthy eating. I may have 10 followers on social media but my true worth was convincing hundreds that healthy eating and managing a certain condition doesn’t come with a label nor involves following a certain movement or trend. If you’re looking for awesome bloggers to follow, head to Storehouse by Scoop Nutrition for a directory of qualified nutrition bloggers fighting the fads and spreading delicious health and nutrition knowledge!

  1. Interesting post. Personally I would say that the dietitian is not necessarily giving better advice, just able to utilise social media more effectively.

    • Hi James! Look I agree that dietitians need to be more proactive in the media and use social media more effectively, but it’s not about who gives better advice.

      Apart from looking at who is more qualified to do so, it is important that people dig deeper beyond social media when looking for the right health experts.

      It would super interesting to see what attracts people to food bloggers and wellness experts vs. accredited dietitians. Would be very interested to hear people’s thoughts!

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