experts recommend top websites for nutrition guidance

by Sandy Todd Webster on Oct 19, 2010

Food for Thought

Scope of practice for fitness professionals, particularly on diet and nutrition issues, can be a sticky wicket. You may know a lot about diet and nutrition, but where do you draw the line on what you can and cannot share with clients? When should you refer? Two dietitians (Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, LD, and Scott Josephson, MS, RD) and two fitness professionals (Nicki Anderson and Brett Klika) met in a panel discussion on this topic at the 2010 IDEA World Fitness Convention™ in August and did their best to clarify the fine line we must walk to stay in scope.

Bell summed up what you can and cannot do in a very concise and simple way: “Make sure your opinion follows expert consensus and guidelines,” she advised. “Provide information that is evidence-based and supported by consensus. Those are the recommendations you can disseminate.” Josephson, a dietitian with a master’s in exercise physiology, concurred with Bell, adding that fitness professionals can identify risks, screen limitations, design programs and refer to practitioners (all from a fitness standpoint). “Don’t diagnose, and don’t prescribe,” he concluded. “You don’t counsel; you coach.”

Simple enough to understand, but what resources are considered solid for finding expert consensus and guidelines?

The “go-to” websites recommended by the panel included the following:—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan or assess your food choices, based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.—Powered by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), this resource is for ADA members, the public, the media, students and health professionals.—The T. Colin Campbell Foundation is a nonprofit organization that offers scientific and health information to the public, without influence from industry or commercial interests.—This site provides independent test results and information to help consumers and healthcare professionals evaluate health, wellness and nutrition products. It is subscription-fee based. The site’s work in consumer advocacy regarding dietary supplements is one of its hallmarks.

An additional website you might find helpful in these tight economic times was recently redesigned and relaunched by the University of Iowa Extension and focuses on “3 Easy Steps to Healthy Meals: Plan Smart. Shop Smart. Eat Smart.” The site includes useful tips related to the three steps, an excellent database of practical, economical recipes and a SpendSmart blog:

For a deeper look at this discussion, you can purchase the DVD of the IDEA World Fitness session “The Fine Line: Counseling Clients in Nutrition,” featuring the four panelists named above and moderated by IDEA’s associate editor Ryan Halvorson:

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.