With countless sensationalized articles and self-proclaimed experts, it can be hard sorting fact from fiction in the nutrition world. Don’t fret—you can count on these 14 media-savvy registered dietitians to break down nutrition myths and give you realistic, attainable advice. From so-called perfect diets to calorie restriction, these RDs are here to set the record straight on eating right.
Ellie Krieger: On Healthy Meals
Ellie Krieger is no stranger to the nutrition spotlight, with an impressive resume that includes hosting her own cooking show and authoring several books. She’s carved a niche in the culinary nutrition arena; one that’s well known among the public as well as colleagues.
“I like to say that the goal of my work is to help people hit the ‘sweet-spot’ where delicious and healthy meet. All too often people feel they have to choose between taste and nutrition, but there is a big beautiful intersection in the Venn diagram of those two circles,” Krieger tells Verywell. “My goal as a culinary dietitian is to give people everyday do-able, creative ways—with great recipes and inspiring ideas—to live in that ‘sweet spot.’
When it comes to those recipes, Krieger emphasizes that there’s no one quintessential healthy meal.
“One of the biggest myths I am passionate about dispelling is the notion that there is one ideal way of eating—a magical macro ratio or eating pattern that is the way to go. It’s a myth that is propagated by marketers, since selling books and other products often relies on the notion that their way is the one best way,” she says.
“The truth is there are a multitude of healthy eating patterns possible, so you can tailor yours to suit your personal preferences and circumstances. That kind of adaptability is probably what has allowed humans to thrive in various conditions around the world over the course of history.”
Krieger’s take home message? Stop worrying about an all-or-nothing approach to healthy eating, and get your creativity going in the kitchen.
Nicole Osinga: On Being Too Busy to Eat Right
Survey people about why they’re not eating healthier meals and two themes frequently become apparent: time and cost. Toronto-based dietitian Nicole Osinga is on a mission to improve nutrition with a strategy that addresses both of these factors: meal planning.
“The number one nutrition myth that I’m passionate about dispelling is that you’re too busy for healthy eating. I work with a number of busy professionals and I focus a lot of my teachings on meal planning and meal prepping. Healthy eating can be the convenient choice,” she tells Verywell.
Not only is this a professional recommendation, but a personal habit as well. On her website, she describes her routine: “Every single weekend I take the time to plan my meals in advance, grocery shop and cook….I used to think this took up too much time and energy, but it really doesn’t. It is now a habit. This is making my environment work for me.”
You can easily make this approach work for you too. Sit down on the weekend and make a list of dinner options for each night that week. Prepare a grocery list based on those options, and do your shopping off that list. No more mental anxiety of “what’s for dinner tonight”—and you know everything you need is stocked in your kitchen.
Marisa Moore: On Progress Vs. Perfection
Have you ever found yourself falling into a perfectionist mentality when it comes to healthy eating? You worry that those few bites of that ice cream sundae ruined your day. Or you might tell yourself that you’ll “start on Monday,” as if on Monday, everything will magically fall into place.
Atlanta-based Registered Dietitian Marisa Moore wants you to know that progress is more important than perfection—and that she’s been in your shoes.
“My experiences living in the food-focused South give me a unique perspective that I think many women can relate to. Though I’ve always been active, healthy eating and knowing what’s best for my body has not always been my reality,” says Moore. “I grew up eating fast food breakfast biscuits and big bowls of sugary cereals. I know what it’s like to have weight changes and to struggle with creating new healthy habits. I actually get it.”
It’s these experiences that shape how she works with clients today. “I’m grateful that I get to combine my personal experience with my background as a practitioner and culinary dietitian to provide practical and science-backed solutions to address the key issues women face every day. I want to help women achieve lifelong health and wellness without all the rules, restrictions, and judgment.”
We can all embrace the concluding motto that Moore told Verywell: “I haven’t always been a healthy eater, and each day is a new opportunity for me to explore new ways to make healthy living easier.”
Nazima Qureshi: On Favorite Foods
Starting a healthy eating plan can sometimes feel restricting and overwhelming. Will you have to give up your favorite treats? Will your plate be filled with grilled chicken and steamed broccoli each night?
Nazima Qureshi, a Canadian RD, and Muslimah nutrition expert want you to know that a healthy eating plan should include your favorite foods and flavors.
“One myth that I want to dispel is that you have to give up foods you love in order to be healthy. A lot of people come to me worried that they will have to give up their ethnic flavors or favorite treats,” Qureshi tells Verywell. “I am passionate about celebrating ethnic diversity, especially when it comes to food. A lot of the recipes I share are a fusion of flavors from my South Asian background as well as a Canadian influence.”
Through her work with Muslim women, she provides specific, individualized guidance that helps women embrace this philosophy. “I never ask anyone to give up foods and instead focus on what we can add to improve health.”
Elizabeth Shaw: On Fertility Nutrition
Many women who struggle with infertility receive little to no nutrition advice. Elizabeth Shaw, a registered dietitian based in San Diego, California, has become one of the primary voices advocating for more comprehensive nutrition outreach in this field.
Not only does Shaw consider this a professional passion project, but she can also empathize with those struggling with infertility—having dealt with it herself for five years before joyously conceiving and delivering her first baby in 2018.
“Often times there is little to no emphasis drawn to nutrition when someone enters a fertility clinic. And, unfortunately, more often than not, practitioners tend to steer their focus towards weight, especially for those who—according to the archaic BMI standards—are considered overweight or obese.
“My goal as not only an RDN, but someone who’s walked in their shoes, is to shift the focus from weight to nutrition, highlighting the evidence-based science that proves there is certainly more to a lifestyle conducive to fertility than just weight.”
Shaw is devoted to working with both individual clients as well as educating other healthcare professionals on the role of nutrition in the realm of fertility. “Since the reproductive specialist is often the first person the individual interacts with, I’ve been on a mission to help educate healthcare professionals about this important role nutrition plays in preconception care and intend to one day expand this program nationwide.”
Melissa Rifkin: On the “Perfect Diet”
Keto, paleo, the military diet…it seems that everyday, there’s a new diet trend emerging. Your Aunt Susie on Facebook tells you she’s had success with Whole30, while your massage therapist tells you that the carnivore diet is the diet to try.
What’s actually the best choice?
Melissa Rifkin, a New York City-based RD, wants you to know that none of these may actually be the “perfect” option for you.
“I often hear clients/patients desperately seeking that one diet that will completely revamp their weight, improve their health, and help them reach their ultimate nutrition goals. Yes, there are plenty of diets out there that have worked for a number of people, but nutrition is not one size fits all, something I learned as I became more confident in my skin as a dietitian of 13 years,” says Rifkin.
“There is not one particular diet, supplement, or style of exercise that will make everyone’s dreams come true.”
If you’re going to choose a diet, what’s the right approach then? Rifkin firmly believes it’s one that compliments your lifestyle, is relative to your goals, considers your preferences, and is one that you can sustain long term.
“Creating a nutrition plan that meets one’s specific nutritional needs, exercising discipline in choosing the foods that will help one reach/maintain their goals, and staying consistent with this plan, along with exercise, are the foundational concepts that help people reach their health and weight goals. This may not be as polarizing as the newest fad diet, but when executed well, it is an equation that works.”
Natalie Rizzo: On Hydration
In New York City’s sports nutrition scene, Natalie Rizzo helps athletes navigate the complicated landscape of “food as fuel.” As a runner herself, Rizzo understands the many issues that fitness enthusiasts deal with on a regular basis—from hydration to recovery and everything in between.
One myth she’s passionate about dispelling? Drinking eight glasses of water a day.
“As an RD who works with athletes, I hear so much confusion over hydration. Dispelling crazy nutrition myths about hydration is definitely something I’m passionate about,” says Rizzo. She even jokes that she should call herself a “hydration” rather than a nutritionist.
“It’s a common misconception that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day. Because everyone varies in their age, size, gender, activity level, and health status, there isn’t one fluid recommendation to suit everyone’s needs,” she tells Verywell.
“Instead, the best way to know if you’re properly hydrated is to check your urine output and color. If there is a sizable amount and it’s pale yellow in color, you are properly hydrated. If you only put out a small amount of dark-colored urine (like apple cider vinegar), you are dehydrated. Continue to drink enough until you consistently get to that pale yellow color, and that’s the right amount of fluid for you.”
Time to grab that water bottle and drink up!
David Wiss: On Nutrition & Addiction
While many dietitians work within a niche, David Wiss specializes in an area that’s quite unique—addiction recovery. His LA-based company, Nutrition in Recovery, is dedicated to fostering both physical and nutritional wellness as part of the addiction recovery process.
Wiss acknowledges the many parallels between addiction recovery and nutritional wellness.
“Addiction recovery requires acknowledging the chronic nature of the illness and the need for long-term maintenance. Once upon people thought a 30-day rehab would fix them. Now we know that isn’t so,” Wiss tells Verywell. “Similarly, changing eating behaviors takes a lot of work. People think they need just need a meal plan, but we also know that isn’t so.”
“When I get people to reframe their efforts to improve their relationship to food as similar to any other recovery journey, people often realize how much effort and maintenance is involved.”
In working with clients on these behavior changes, he’s found common myths in the nutrition field that he’s passionate about dispelling. For example—many clients have a misconception that fruit is unhealthy for them.
“What I have found is that people who believe fruit should be avoided tend to lose control when they eat refined sugars and are more likely to engage in binge-like eating patterns. When I get people to learn to satisfy their sweet tooth with fruit like dates, figs, frozen grapes, etc. they tend to improve their ability to regulate intake of sweets. Fruits are the original source of sweetness and should seldom be avoided.”
Mary Ellen Phipps: On Family Nutrition
As both an RD and a mom of two, Mary Ellen Phipps knows a thing or two about family nutrition. She’s passionate about helping families develop positive relationships with food and create happy memories in the kitchen.
“We have a generation of women, many of whom are now moms, that was raised in the prime of diet culture and are now experiencing the ramifications of it as adults,” says Phipps. “As a mom of girls, I know for a fact I never want my girls to feel shame or guilt around food. I think as family nutrition RDNs we’re in a unique space to not only help educate parents on how to have a balanced (and healthy) approach to food, but also teach them how to teach their kids the same things.”
That often starts with letting go of diet culture and focusing instead on health. “I think we’re finally starting to turn the corner on diet culture and really are impacting people with his idea that health really does look different on each and every one of us.”
Phipps sums up a three-prong approach to family nutrition nicely in one of her blog posts:
- Don’t let food stress you out
- Indulge a little, but be responsible about it, and no bribes
- It’s ok to celebrate with food
Kara Lydon: On Calories
Calories in equal calories out—correct? If you burn 3500 calories, you should lose a pound—right?
Kara Lydon, a Boston-based dietitian and yoga instructor, might surprise you with her answers.
“The number one nutrition myth I’m passionate about dispelling is that weight is all about calories in versus calories out. Our weight is not determined by an equation, because we as humans are not robots computing mathematical equations at the end of each day,” says Lydon.
“Our weight is complex and determined by a myriad of factors including genetics, stress, sleep, and so on, not just what we are taking in versus putting out.”
Lydon believes that traditional diets, which generally put you at an energy deficit, aren’t ideal. “Being in a calorie deficit is putting yourself at an energy deficit and can cause your body to go into starvation mode, leading to lowered metabolism, higher food preoccupation, increased cravings, binges, and weight cycling.”
These beliefs are growing among a group of dietitians that practice under the tenants of intuitive eating. In this non-diet methodology, the focus is on health, tuning into body signals, and healing your relationship with food.
“I help people move away from rigid rules and black-and-white thinking around nutrition to taking a more gentle, flexible, and compassionate approach,” Lydon tells Verywell. “My focus is on what people can add to their diets, not take away. I also take a weight-neutral approach to my practice, which means we focus on behaviors like eating a variety of foods, moving their body in a way that feels good to them, and self-care, rather than the number on the scale.”
Rachael Hartley: On Diets for Health Conditions
If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires a change in eating habits, you’re probably familiar with some of the emotions that come with that diagnosis. Perhaps a bit of overwhelm, resistance to change, stress, or anxiety—and these are all completely normal to experience.
Rachael Hartley, a non-diet dietitian with a private practice in Columbia, South Carolina, likes to help people address these changes at the big picture level.
“Dealing with a medical condition with dietary restrictions is stressful. It’s important to put those dietary restrictions in context—for most chronic medical conditions, nutrition is part of care, but not all of it.”
“For example, working with a client with heart disease, certainly eating more fiber, choosing healthier fats, and increasing intake of antioxidant-rich foods is important, but so is getting adequate sleep, moving your body in a way you enjoy, strengthening social connections, and stress management.”
It’s important to think of all of these in a holistic, full-body approach. “If following a rigid diet is stressing you out, it’s not actually healthy for you!” says Hartley. In those cases, she helps clients make the best choices that feel right to them—not necessarily a strict black and white diet prescription.
Kaleigh McMordie: On Nutrition vs. Wellness
When it comes to a food philosophy, Kaleigh McMordie sums hers up in just a few words: “Eat what makes you feel good.” Another practitioner in the intuitive eating methodology, this Texas-based RD wants you to focus on total wellness—not just nutrition.
“Nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. As a non-diet RD, I like to promote total wellness as opposed to just physical health. Health is about so much more than just nutrients in and out,” says McMordie.
“I’m a huge advocate for mental health, so I’m definitely more concerned about the mental effect of what you’re eating than how it will affect your weight. If a diet is causing you anxiety and fear or interfering with how you want to be living your life, it’s not the right diet for you.”
McMordie also notes the freedom that releasing yourself from diet obsession brings: “When you can learn to take care of your body, but not obsess over it and every bite of food you put into your mouth, you open up so many opportunities to pursue your passions and nurture relationships.”
What does total wellness look like as far as her own diet? “Sure, there are a lot of salads and bowls of oatmeal on my Instagram feed (because I truly enjoy those foods!), but there are also cookies made with butter and cocktails and other foods that some people find surprising. But for me, it’s important to show that it’s all about balance, and eating dessert every night is not a bad thing!”
Rick Hall: On Hype
In an era of goop and juice cleanses, it can be difficult not getting swept up in the latest hype. But Rick Hall, a dietitian, and researcher based in Arizona, wants you to ignore all of that.
“I learned many years ago not to get caught up in hype. Often, people I know get advice from well-meaning friends and family members to start a diet based on results from testimonials, guru books, and partial information. It is hard to keep a level-head and not get excited to do the latest thing that everyone else is hyping up,” says Hall.
“I’ve seen many diets cycle back every five to 10 years; so I’ve learned not only to keep calm about it—but to wait it out. Because most diets fail; and then the hype disappears.”
The key to good nutrition? Focus on health, not hype.
“At the end of the day, the best strategies—based on science—focus on energy balance. Start with daily, rigorous, physical activity; then add copious amounts of vegetables and fruits daily. Eat other whole foods in moderation. These are strategies that add to the quality of life and could also add lifespan years,” Hall tells Verywell. “If done right, physical activity and healthy eating should be fun – and much less stressful than dieting.”
Rebecca Scritchfield: On Weight
In a weight-focused culture that frequently assigns self-worth to a number on a scale, Rebecca Scritchfield challenges the status quo. She shook up the nutrition world with her book, Body Kindness: Transform your health from the inside out and never say diet again, which tosses out the antiquated notion that weight is the sole indicator of health.
“I want to use my platform to reframe health away from weight-centric views to well-being enhancement, and the most important shift that needs to take place is to stop making judgments about one’s health or habits based on their weight,” Scritchfield tells Verywell.
Body shaming and health shaming are all too prominent these days according to Scritchfield. “We now live in a culture of healthism, whereby those who aren’t fitting criteria of good health status are blamed and shamed, viewed as ‘lesser than’ people who have good health. This is especially difficult for higher weight people who face harmful judgments based solely on their weight, regardless of their actual health status.”
These judgments don’t only happen at the community level—but at the professional level as well. “Weight stigma is pervasive in the medical community, with research indicating that many physicians view their patients as lazy and incompetent.”
Unfortunately, this leads to poor health outcomes in and of itself. “Experienced stigma is associated with negative health consequences from depression to eating disorders, body image disturbances, and even healthcare avoidance.”
So where does nutrition fit into all this, if not to address weight? Scritchfield elaborates: “Nutrition fits into this when it’s not about weight loss—biologically, some people will always be higher weight and no amount of change to nutrition patterns will change their weight. I want people to ask ‘what’s wrong with that?”