Let’s talk nutrition scammers, because I’m feeling like the amount of nutrition noise and nonsense out there has reached critical mass.
What is a nutrition scammer?
I consider a nutrition scammer is a person or company that gives completely wrong and potentially harmful nutrition information to others.
This person or company may or may not know that their information is garbage.
This person is usually selling a product that’s tied to the information they’re giving out.
This person is most often not qualified to give nutrition advice.
I’ve pulled together 22 of the most common things I see nutrition scammers say. I’m going to list them and tell you why they’re red flags.
I know you feel sick, but it’s normal! It’s just your body detoxing!
I know this sounds harsh, but only the worst kind of people say this. And they usually say it to people they’ve put on a cleanse, who feel terrible because they HAVEN’T EATEN.
They feel horrible not because their body is detoxing, but because of the detox they’re subjecting it to. Starving doesn’t detox you from anything, but it does make you feel all of the symptoms you feel when you’re supposedly ‘detoxing.’
Weakness. Headache. Brain fog. And more.
Your body naturally detoxes every day: it’s called pooping, peeing, and breathing. Not only do you not need a detox, but you should run away from anyone telling you to starve yourself and brave the symptoms. They know nothing about how the body works.
Just trust the process.
When you get this answer in response to asking a question about the diet you’re on, this is 1000% a sign that the person you’re asking doesn’t know how to answer you.
I see this come up a lot in small, regional diet programs that are led by utterly unqualified people. Some of these programs have a lot of followers, who are all getting bad information and forming bad nutrition habits.
If someone won’t answer your questions, why in the world are you letting them play with your health?
Once we balance your hormones, your problems will go away!
Hormones are big business, and they’re also complicated. One thing you should know is that a true hormone expert is an endocrinologist or an ob/gyn, not some wellness person who once took a ‘hormone’ course online.
There are too many ‘hormone diets’ floating around, and most of them are being given out by unqualified people who supposedly ‘fixed’ their own hormones.
Hormone ‘balance’ is a strange term, because hormones aren’t ever in ‘balance.’ They fluctuate, which is normal.
If you suspect you’re having hormone issues, please see a real expert, not one off of Instagram.
Better in the waste than on your waist!
Anyone advising you to throw food out so you don’t eat it, is telling you to engage in disordered eating. Period.
Also, it’s disgusting and elitist to instruct people to throw food into the garbage because it’s not ‘healthy.’
Putting Himalayan salt into water gives the water healthy minerals.
Let’s put it this way: Himalayan salt is not healthier than table salt. Nobody eats salt for the minerals, and the trace amounts that Himalayan salt has, are readily available in food.
It’s a red flag for me when anyone recommends pink salt for any reason at all. There’s just no nutritional benefit to it.
Boost your metabolism eating X!
It’s pretty tough to boost your metabolism long enough or high enough to result in weight loss, and a juice cleanse or low-carb diet isn’t going to do it. Eating a diet that’s high in protein may increase our Thermic Effect of Food, which is a part of our metabolism, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle.
Our metabolism is determined a lot by genetics, and may be influenced by age, hormones, and gender.
Metabolism is complicated. You can’t just ‘boost’ it with a diet or supplements and magically lose weight.
Heal your microbiome with my plan!
The microbiome is the next big thing (along with hormones), and diets that supposedly ‘heal’ it are making big money for people.
The issue? ‘Healing’ the microbiome is a nebulous term that doesn’t really make sense. While we suspect that our gut bacteria influence everything from our immune system to our weight to our mood, we aren’t certain what this means for each individual person, their diet, and their gut bugs.
We don’t really know what an optimal microbiome looks like for each person, either.
While a diet full of plants has the most evidence behind it for overall health, anyone who uses a ‘microbiome healing diet’ is talking nonsense.
Dairy and gluten are inflammatory.
This one just won’t go away.
The only people who dairy and gluten are inflammatory for, are the people who are allergic or intolerant to them. And no, that’s not everyone.
Most of us can digest gluten and dairy just fine, and while the rates of lactose intolerance vary between populations, it’s not a good reason to give a blanket recommendation that everyone should be eliminating dairy and gluten from their diets.
If someone tells you to take these things out of your diet without even knowing who you are, it’s a red flag.
Diet soda is worse for you than regular soda.
I’m not a huge fan of soda in the first place (although I do love a Diet Coke sometimes), but I’m a fan of ‘harm reduction.’
This means that even though you’re choosing something that might not be the most healthful, it’s better than the alternative.
Diet soda vs regular soda fits this analogy.
People who say that diet soda is worse than regular soda are usually making a statement about the artificial sweeteners in diet soda. The problem with this line of thinking is that no research has actually proven that artificial sweeteners are actually bad for us.
If you were drinking 3 regular sodas a day, and you switch to drinking 3 diet sodas a day, I think that’s a positive switch.
Nutrition is full of nuance.
You can eat whatever you want on this plan! Just know that if you do, you won’t lose weight/won’t lose weight as fast, and that’s your fault.
Ah, the bait and switch of the ‘weight loss expert.’ It’s something that I’ve heard a certain ‘expert’ say to their followers, and it’s a psychological game to first make them believe that the plan they’re following isn’t a diet, and then to blame them for their ‘failure.’
This sort of statement puts the responsibility on you, instead of the restrictive diet you’re following.
It’s actually sickening.
Don’t follow people who play mind games with your health and your relationship with food.
You need to keep your insulin levels low by eating a diet low in carbs, otherwise you’ll never lose weight.
Insulin seems to be enemy #1 right now, but most people who talk a lot about insulin, have no idea how it works.
High insulin levels – which mostly come from a condition called insulin resistance – are a problem, but healthy people usually don’t have this issue. Even so, eating healthy carbs shouldn’t affect your ability to lose weight.
If you have high blood sugars, it may be helpful to eat fewer carbs, but you can definitely lose weight while eating carbs. And losing weight can help with insulin sensitivity, which helps lower insulin levels.
Conventional fruit is drenched in pesticides.
No, it isn’t.
This sort of thing is usually said by someone trying to push organic food, but hey: organic fruit is grown with pesticides, too. And if that same person tries to give you a graphic like the one below, know that it has been created by a highly biased organic advocacy group (the EWG is one of these, too).
The word ‘drenched’ or ‘doused’ suggests that conventional fruit is somehow ‘toxic,’ and that the farmers who grow it are irresponsible. Both are false; farmers don’t use more pesticides than they need to, and these things are highly regulated.
Don’t listen to people who speak in negative hyperbole and use fear mongering around food. Food isn’t ‘toxic,’ or ‘drenched,’ or ‘clean,’ or ‘dirty.’
You can do my plan without supplements, but you’ll be so much more successful with them!
Yeah, I’ll bet. RED FLAG!!!
The upsell is a hallmark of nutrition MLMs and companies like VShred, and it’s a total scam.
You do not need supplements to lose weight. Ever.
And, just like the quote above where the diet ‘expert’ makes it your fault if you eat what you want, anyone who says that you’ll be ‘more successful’ if you buy their supplements is setting you up for the blame when you don’t get the results you were expecting from their diet.
Junk food belongs in the trash! But here’s my recipe for a Snickers bar smoothie I made with the protein powder I sell.
First of all, assigning moral labels to food isn’t healthy. Food isn’t ‘clean’ or ‘junk,’ and it’s a red flag when anyone uses those words to describe food.
Second, if you want a Snickers bar, eat it and move on. Trying to ‘healthify’ desserts by making them with powders and frozen vegetables (FYI: the smoothie I’m referring to also had frozen zucchini in it) isn’t making you any healthier.
It’s okay to have dessert. It’s okay to eat zucchini and protein powder too, but thinking that you need to swap one for the other, can mess up your relationship with food.
Bone broth will heal your gut.
There is no evidence to show that this is true. Some people *ahem* Dr. Kellyann *ahem* believe that the collagen in bone broth can ‘seal’ your leaky gut junctions, but that’s just not physiologically possible.
The person I mentioned above also reportedly recommends drinking your own urine, so yeah, please watch who you get your health information from.
Here’s a list of 100 conditions cause by sugar!
Anyone who gives you a list of scary conditions and diseases and blames one thing for causing them, is a total quack.
Period. End of story.
I have X people in my program, this many followers can’t be wrong.
Except yes, they can.
A lot of weight loss ‘experts’ and programs have thousands of followers, but this doesn’t mean that they’re actually helping people lose weight, sustain it, and heal their relationships with food.
Those last two are the hard parts. People tend to gravitate towards programs that promise big weight loss in a short period of time. And sure, many of them lose weight, so they think the program ‘worked.’ But what happens once that program ends?
A lot of them will go back on it, for session after session.
That’s because it didn’t work. Now they’re stuck in a cycle, and if they stop, the weight will return.
Even worse, their relationships with food and their bodies will suffer as a consequence. Nobody wants to talk about that part of the program, though.
Our MLM product is ‘clinically proven’ to do something that nothing else has ever done before!
Do you actually think an MLM has discovered a groundbreaking product that the FDA has somehow missed?
No. They haven’t.
And I feel like I’ve never seen a legit company or product that feels the need to say that its ‘clinically proven.’
You need to measure and track your food on my plan, but it’s not a diet!
21 Day Fix.
Don’t be fooled – any program that has you measuring, tracking, weighing, budgeting calories…is a diet. And listen – if you want a diet, fine (of course, I don’t recommend diets at all). But my issue lies in the misleading way these programs are sold.
Try my metabolic reset!
Your metabolism isn’t an IPhone that can be reset to factory settings.
Nothing in your body works like that. So, if someone is promising to reset your metabolism, or your hormones, be very suspicious. The word ‘reset’ is a huge red flag.
If you eat fruit, you should eat only green apples, berries, and lemons.
I want to give everyone who says this a big F-U.
Fruit has sugar, but it has fibre and antioxidants, and it also tastes delicious. Remember enjoying food? Yes, you should still be doing that. And no, please don’t eat lemons on their own. Ouch, your tooth enamel!
The difference in sugar between red and green apples, berries and other fruits, is negligible in the big picture, which is your overall health – both physical AND emotional.
I have never seen a legitimate nutrition expert who knows what they’re talking about, recommend green apples over red ones. Stay away from a person who does.
You need a heavy metal detox. Try my heavy metal detox smoothie!
Unless you’ve been exposed to heavy metals for a protracted period of time, you do not need a heavy metal detox. This is the stuff of charlatans.
Also: if you had heavy metal poisoning, you’d need a hospital, not a smoothie.