5 Red Flags For Navigating Nutritional Nonsense

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If you scrolled through your social media right now, how many conflicting health and nutrition based claims would you see? How many celebrities would you see holding products in front of the camera, offering you a discount code. How many sponsored posts for different fitness and nutrition plans would come up in your stories?

I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of watching overwhelmed and unsuspecting people fall prey to false advertising and inaccurate claims related to health and nutrition.

It’s a fucking jungle out there. We are in Jumunji territory now friends, and it’s hard to tell who you can trust when everyone is whispering different answers in your ear. So instead of letting you just roll the dice and hope for the best, I’m here to help you navigate this bitch with a list of red flags to look out for when encountering wild nutritional claims.

Red flag#1: The person making the claim has no qualifications, or hasn’t cited any research

Known offenders:

Social media influencers, your friends and family

It’s 2019 and suddenly everyone’s an online fitness and/or nutrition coach. That’s not to say that there aren’t genuinely qualified and experienced coaches trying to further their reach online, but to find them you’ll have to sift through hundreds of regular joe’s who joined a gym, cleaned up their diet and decided that these simple actions qualified them to give health advice to hundreds of unsuspecting people.

Be wary of anyone who uses the line “studies have shown”. Many will claim that studies support their arguments but don’t actually cite a source or current published research.

Beyond social media experts, our friends and family are usually the first ones we turn to for advice, but keep in mind that they are not experts either, and any advice they give you is either going to be anecdotal (i.e. worked for them, or a friend of theirs, or a friend of a friend of theirs) or it’s going to be secondhand, possibly from one of the “experts” mentioned above.

Red flag#2: Anything that requires severe restriction, demonises certain food groups or emphatically focuses on singular products

Known offenders:

the cabbage diet, juice cleanses, meal replacement shakes,  clean eating

Shut the front door, clean eating is bad?! When you’re talking about labelling foods as acceptable and unacceptable within a diet, yes, it is. There are certainly foods you should eat MORE of, and foods you should eat LESS of, but all foods fit within a healthy balanced diet.

Of course, if you are genuinely intolerant of a particular food (e.g. gluten or dairy), it’s probably a good idea to avoids those food groups. But if you do not have an underlying medical issue, there is no reason you shouldn’t be eating a full variety of foods.

Red flag#3: Anything with a short term focus

Known offenders:

6 week challenges, detoxes & cleanses, skinny teas, & anything promising an appealing amount of weight loss within a short amount of time

Firstly, your body has its own system in place to remove toxins, which is bloody effective, otherwise how could we have made it through the last two hundred thousand years?

Secondly, these short term fixes will only get you short term results. You’ll most likely spend a miserable six weeks getting very intimate with the toilet bowls in your life as your body “purges toxins”, and gain back the few kg’s of weight that you’ve lost, only this time you’ll have less muscle and more fat mass. Perhaps they should add that to the testimonials…

Red flag#4: Diets with a one size fits all approach

Known offenders:

Keto diet, veganism (on a health basis not on an ethical basis), intermittent fasting, and any programs that come with a generic meal plan

Your age, gender, lifestyle, energy requirements, food tolerances, and your hormone profile are UNIQUE. So for anyone to tell you that your needs are exactly the same as anyone else’s, is quite frankly, fucking stupid.

Some people will have great success on the keto diet, some people will have better energy with a higher carbohydrate intake. Some people will feel great with intermittent fasting, others will spend those 4 hours hangry AF and end up emotionally eating their way through an entire pizza.  

As long as your energy requirements are being balanced, you do you boo. Find the strategy that fits within your lifestyle, that you’re able to stick to long term.

Red flag#5: Misleading marketing and buzz words

Known offenders:

Basically everyone

Everyone uses marketing to sell products, that’s a given. What is NOT a given, is when that marketing is being used to mislead you.

Look out for photoshopped images, before and after pictures where the photos have been angled differently, misleading statements such as claims that products will cure or treat illness and disease, and use of buzz words.

Just because something is labelled as organic, raw or gluten free and comes in green or brown packaging, does not automatically mean that it is healthy.

Final takeaway

Marketers spend a lot of time and money playing on your emotions, trying to seduce you into buying products and services that you don’t need. It’s not your fault, but it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence and research before buying into any health or nutrition advice. Find experts that you trust and get their opinion first and if all else fails, follow your gut instinct. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get trapped in the jungle!

Jade X


Melanie Corlett