Health and wellness advice abounds in social media, books, articles, ads, and blogs. But how can you sort the facts from fiction? Be sure to consider whether the source is science-based research reported by a professional expert in that area, or merely opinion. Publix has a team of experts—registered dietitian nutritionists—who work continually to provide the most current health and wellness information to our customers. Let’s explore some tried-and-true ways to steer clear of nutrition tricks.
6 Red Flags
To help you uncover nutrition misinformation masquerading as reputable health advice, be on the lookout for these six common themes.1
- Quick fixes. Can you really lose 15 pounds in one week? Will you get slim without exercise? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no quick fixes—only long-term habits.
- Diets that exclude food groups. Since each food group provides certain nutrients as part of a balanced diet, omitting an entire food group may result in nutrient deficiencies.
- “Good” or “bad” foods. This sort of labeling is too simplistic. Most foods, eaten in appropriate portion sizes with an overall healthy eating pattern, can be part of a balanced diet.
- Scapegoats or cure-alls. Be skeptical if one component, such as sugar, is blamed for multiple health issues. Conversely, claims that certain products, such as a single supplement, can help a wide variety of ailments are often untrue.
- Single-study recommendations. Credible nutrition recommendations usually come from years of research and multiple studies.
- Celebrity or customer endorsements. Don’t rely solely on the opinions of others. Check the science behind the product and the endorser’s credibility.
Website Search Tips
Health claims about foods and nutrients may be biased depending on the source. While looking for nutrition information, keep in mind that websites ending with .edu (an educational institution), .gov (a government agency), or .org (a nonprofit) tend to be reliable sources.2
Ask these questions as you read:
- How does the information compare to recommendations from a reputable health organization? If it doesn’t align, the information may not be science-based.
- How current is the information? Science constantly evolves, so it’s important to seek the latest research findings on the topic. Even if the information has not changed in a long time, the site owner should indicate that it has been reviewed recently to ensure the information is still valid.
Check out these credible websites:
- For general dietary details, try the USDA Food Guidance System at choosemyplate.gov or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at eatright.org.
- For heart-smart tips, consult the American Heart Association at heart.org.
- For managing or avoiding diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org.
- A great resource for gluten-free diets is the Celiac Disease Foundation at celiac.org.
- For vegetarian or vegan diets, take a look at the Vegetarian Resource Group at vrg.org.
- Learn about herbs and supplements at the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine resource.
Dietitians: Authors with Authority
When it comes to nutrition expertise, there are two credentials you can count on: registered dietitian (RD) and registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Also known interchangeably as dietitians, RDs and RDNs are food and nutrition experts who have met high academic standards, completed prerequisite supervised practice, passed a national examination, and obtained approved continuing professional education requirements to maintain registration. 3 Articles written by dietitians are more likely to be credible.
Beware of tricks! While many people use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably, there is a difference. Dietitians have met rigorous requirements to earn their credentials. However, in some states there is little or no regulation of titles such as nutritionist or nutrition coach. So just because someone claims to be a nutritionist, health coach, or wellness consultant on social media or elsewhere does not make them qualified to recommend food choices or guide your weight-loss journey. There are many other nutritional credentials out there, so find out exactly what went into obtaining the credential before taking advice.
Our Publix dietitians, who are licensed RDNs, translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
Spot Publix Better Choice Shelf Tags
We make it easy for you to sort through products while you shop with our Better Choice shelf tag program. Using the latest scientific research, Publix dietitians have compared groups of similar products, like cereal, for example. The Better Choice shelf tags identify items that have more of the nutrients you need, like fiber, and less of the things you don't need, like saturated fat, or added sodium, or added sugar.
Our dietitians stay on top of the latest research and use it when assessing products for Better Choice designations. As nutrition science advances, they continually reassess the categories.
The Claims Game
Certain claims you see on a product package, such as healthy, low-carb, fat free, or no added sugar may lead you to believe that the product is better for you than others. The truth is that what’s inside the package may not meet your nutritional expectations or goals.
While many claims are defined and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some are not. Manufacturers may take the opportunity to market their products with unregulated, or even regulated, claims that may not be as good as they sound. Be sure to do your research. The following guidelines can help you navigate nutrition claims.
Reliable Recipes for You
As you sift through recipes among websites, social media, and apps, consider the source and the process for publishing them. Sometimes a recipe does not turn out the way it looks in the photo or sounds in the description because it wasn’t tested.
Publix Aprons® recipes are developed by our chefs and tested in our kitchens to ensure that each recipe is reliable and delicious. Our dietitians create recipe criteria for certain dietary considerations based on the latest food and nutrition science, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. If you’re looking for recipes that fit your wellness goals, search our library of Publix Aprons® recipes to discover what’s right for you.
Try two tasty fall meal recommendations from our dietitians! Start with our Turkey Picadillo-Stuffed Acorn Squash, which meets Better Choice and Heart Smart recipe criteria. And our Apple-Sweet Potato Soup with Apple Yogurt Topper is a Better Choice, Heart Smart, Carb Smart, Gluten-Free, and Lacto-ovo Vegetarian recipe.
For the Love of You
Choosing how you eat is uniquely personal. It’s about your needs, your preferences, and your goals. As your wellness ally, Publix is in your corner with fresh ideas, recipes, and wellness icons that make it easier to shift toward wiser food choices. It’s all about you, at your very best.
* Item prices vary from in-store prices. Service fees may apply. Available in select zip codes or locations. Additional terms apply.
1 “Health and Nutrition Research: How to Separate Fact from Fiction.” Dairy Council of California. Accessed August 9, 2019.
2 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). “How To Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers.” National Institutes of Health (NIH): Office of Dietary Supplements. June 24, 2011.
3 National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Herbs and Supplements.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed July 12, 2019.