Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Celebrities and chefs are spreading myths about food on social media... and it's very frustrating' - Irish dietician

Dr Mary McCreery is a professional dietician. Photo: Twitter
Dr Mary McCreery is a professional dietician. Photo: Twitter

A dietician has hit out at Instagrammers who have no third level qualification in nutrition giving advice on what people should eat for optimum health.

Dr Mary McCreery, a qualified Irish dietician, said she is “frustrated” by the myths that are spread about food on social media. Bread is one such food that is victim to recurring myths, she said.

“There is no bad news about bread whatsoever. There is no evidence that bread is bad for you – brown or white.”

“There is no excuse for anyone to eliminate bread out of their diet. It doesn’t cause bloating, it doesn’t cause weight gain.”

“People are afraid of it. They think it causes weight gain and bloatedness, but there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it does. There is no excuse for anyone – other than coeliacs which are a small percentage – not to eat bread,” she added.

Dr McCreery said celebrities who don’t have third level qualifications in nutrition are simply “charlatans” who are acting like nutrition experts on social media.

“With social media it’s like everyone is an expert without knowing anything.”

“To be quite honest, you don’t find the professionals on Instagram, they tend to be bloggers and people who have an agenda to sell, or a book to sell. In general you wouldn’t find professionals on Instagram. On Twitter we bring each other up to date, and we’re in touch with professionals in Australia for example sharing research.”

“In college it’s three years to get a degree. Yet you have celebs and a lot of chefs and cooks who believe they know more than medical doctors and dieticians and they’re spouting all of this research and if you look into it they don’t even understand what they’re quoting, and that is very, very frustrating.”

“It’s all the celebrities, and what I would say made-up experts, and I would say charlatans, people who don’t have any recognised qualification. The recognised qualifications in Ireland are from UCD, Cork and DIT/Trinity.”

Dr McCreery said dieticians are currently lobbying the Government to bring in legislation which will stop people making diet recommendations for cancer patients.

“There’s legislation in the UK that you cannot give out any advice about cancer, it’s been in existence for 50 years.”

“At the moment we have people saying that the keto diet is supposed to help cancer, but there’s absolutely no research to say that there is, so we are trying to call on the Government to bring in that legislation here.”

“It’s putting vulnerable people under stress. If you have cancer you’ll do anything to find a cure, and people might feel under pressure to do the ketogenic diet, but the dietetic advice is very detailed for cancer.”

“It’s very, very irresponsible to be putting out advice about diet and cancer when there’s no evidence to support it.”

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Safe Food, the Department of Health, the Nutrition Health Foundation, and the Irish Dietetic Institute are reliable sources for information, Dr McCreery said.

“If you are getting dietetic advice, do it from a registered nutrition or dietician.”

“People self-diagnose themselves. There is no way someone should cut out a food group in their diet.”

“Today is the launch of a positive week [National Bread Week]. It’s trying to dispel the myths about bread, the myth that it’s fattening. It’s a very nutritious food, which is the bit that seems to be missing.”

She advised: “Always see what your source is. Don’t go to a chef, don’t go to a cook, don’t go to the person in the health food shop.”

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