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Old 11-22-2008, 11:43 AM   #1
Greg Battaglia
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Default How do you deal with such stupidity??

Ok, so this year was my first semester as a Dietetics major in college. So far, I've realized that dietitians generally know absolutely nothing about healthy eating. Zilch. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Yesterday in my nutrition class we were having a class discussion on the health benefits of whole grains (big surprise, right?) and the professor said the following (try not to laugh or cry too hard):

"The reason we recommend that people get half of their grains in whole form is because refined grains and white bread are actually more healthy than whole grains in some situations. Since refined flour is enriched with folic acid it's an excellent choice for pregnant women, since the whole varieties are lower in folic acid" She then went on to say "Whole grains are great because they are the richest food source of dietary fiber in our diets. They contain phytic acid, which prevents the body from digesting certain minerals in the grains, but this effect is minimal since we know that whole grains are the healthiest foods."

I was literally dumbfounded when she made this statement. I honestly felt sick because of her blatant stupidity. The sad thing is that the other students thought that this was great stuff. One girl was like "Wow, I didn't know white bread was that healthy". I've questioned this particular professor and other professors numerous times on their ridiculous claims and every time they give me the "I'm the professional, so I'm always right" mentality.

They are completely closed minded and any time I present them with the scientific research that clearly proves their claims wrong they say "That's interesting, but we need more studies on that". When I show them more studies they say, "Well, I think if that were a significant issue the ADA would have adjusted the recommendations by now".

One time the teacher actually said that low carbohydrate diets CAUSE insulin resistance. I immediately asked her in front of the class to provide even one scientific study that supported that claim. She had none, she said it was just "common knowledge". I then went on to explain that the vast majority of research shows quite the opposite and I would be willing to present an analysis and interpretation of those studies to the class. Of course she then changed the subject and said "It seems you've found what works for you, but for most people the food pyramid is the healthiest option."

I really don't know how to handle this idiotic behavior, what can I do here? These people are either 1) incredibly stupid 2) brain washed, or 3) being paid by someone to lie (which I doubt is the case).

I feel like I'm wasting time and money of this education (if that's what you'd even call it). It's very frustrating.
There are dreams we’re taught are normal, whether it’s money or success or any of those things, but we shouldn’t believe in those things if they are not important to us. There is an ocean between our real lives and what is expected of us.” -Tim Lambesis
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:07 PM   #2
Gittit Shwartz
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It is frustrating... Even though I went into college knowing nutrition will be a big part of what I do for a living in the future, I did not even consider majoring in nutrition. When the time comes I'll just get the minimum certification necessary to get insurance for my practice.

It's also disturbing because it makes you wonder what other "common knowledge" you've never questioned is based on absolute puff.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:12 PM   #3
Daniel Labuz
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I was actually thinking about getting a degree in nutritional science, but at this point I realize I don't belong in class at this particular time. I'm sure if I had to put up with stuff like that all day from my professor's I'd end up going insane, it's quite disturbing this hasn't got to the professionals yet. Although there are limited studies and it's still quite new as far as science goes.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:58 PM   #4
Mandy LaGreca
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I dropped out of nutrition too for the same reasons....but did consider a degree from Clayton College of natural health in the future. Or perhaps I will get a certification sometime as well.

You have the remember, the doctors, nurses, dentists, dieticians all practice based on their learnings, which are all controlled by a group with certain beliefs. (ADA...American Dietetic Association), and Im sure the drug companies have some big role in there too.

I got in an argument with my doctor one time about the overusage of antibiotics and what they do long term to your immune system, and he just didnt understand. This is why I see a holistic doctor for most ailments....

As for white grains, I do have to say, when I was pregnant, I couldnt stomach any whole grains or veggies or meat, so Paleo eating would have been out the window for me or I would have been vomiting all day. I lived on refined white starches, and supplemented with vitamins. However, it makes me wonder, maybe pregnant women really didnt eat as much as we think they should....maybe the nausea was a natural way of avoiding food to avoid potentially harmful bacteria. I think the body is an amazing machine and it would have figured out how to give all the nutrients to the fetus somehow, if I didnt have access to all that junk.
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:05 PM   #5
Mike ODonnell
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Just focus on helping/changing one person at a time....only way to fight the larger insanity out there....I don't have too many friends who are dieticians...as they never like what I have to say.....oh well, got enough friends...now time to expose the rest....

If you want a degree...you probably have to play the game.....but then the question becomes, do you need the degree to make a real difference?
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:11 PM   #6
Arien Malec
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Originally Posted by Greg Battaglia View Post
I really don't know how to handle this idiotic behavior, what can I do here? These people are either 1) incredibly stupid 2) brain washed, or 3) being paid by someone to lie (which I doubt is the case).
Accept that, for better or worse, they are doing what they know to the best of their ability. What you are telling them is that down is up and up is down -- their job is to tell you that up is up and down is down. You aren't going to change what they teach -- only when the ADA, USDA, AHA, etc. etc. change their guidelines will what they teach change.

Sit through the courses, absorb what's useful, demonstrate that you know the material being taught, even if you disagree. While you are at it, research and present interesting studies and stimulate critical thought without getting angry, frustrated, upset, or generally looking like a crank pseudo-scientist, which is what they are going to think you are. Bias the studies you present to mainstream scientists and journals. In this context, NEJM and the Cochrane collaborative are your friends, Loren Cordain and Westin A Price aren't.

When you are a licensed dietitian, having walked through the wilderness, shake your head, hang out your diploma and help people.
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Old 11-22-2008, 04:36 PM   #7
Greg Battaglia
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Good points.

Basically, it's not that I think I can change the whole system or that I'm even going to try, it just blows my mind when you show an individual plenty of scientific evidence to disprove their claims or to prove yours and they don't even consider it. Even a little "That's interesting, we should look more into that..." would make me happy at this point. But instead it's just the same old "That's wrong because the food pyramid says so!". I mean, it's quite simple. If I show you numerous studies that find that low-carbohydrate diets are superior for weight loss and improvement in cardiovascular risk profiles then you would logically agree that low-carbohydrate diets are potentially effective strategies for weight loss and CVD prevention and treatment. Instead they say the exact opposite, even after reviewing the evidence! It's completely unscientific and just plain idiotic.

I never approach the arguments in an arrogant or aggressive manner. I always stay calm and present my arguments in a calm and open-minded way. I simply offer my stance and stay open to constructive criticism. it doesn't work, they still write me off as a the quack of the group. I guess when you believe something for so long it's incredibly hard to accept that you were completely wrong the whole time.
There are dreams we’re taught are normal, whether it’s money or success or any of those things, but we shouldn’t believe in those things if they are not important to us. There is an ocean between our real lives and what is expected of us.” -Tim Lambesis
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:50 PM   #8
Steven Low
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Yep, that sucks.

Good luck. I don't suppose you'd consider switching to something like exercise physiology?
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:53 PM   #9
Kevin Perry
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Lots of this going around. I have to deal with nutrition next semester. Everyone else here has said good advice to just bite your lip and ignore em.
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Old 11-23-2008, 08:59 AM   #10
Chris Salvato
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I find the best way to approach these kinds of people is to be prepared, and be subservient.

If you come off too strong, they will give you that "I am better than you" mentality.

For example:

Teacher: "Whole grains are very important to the diet?"

You: "Really? Why do you say that?"

Teacher: <<bullshit claims>>

You: "I just find that odd since I have read over a dozen studies citing that insulin resistance is caused by high GI foods consumed in massive quantities like grains. In fact, aren't you a bit compelled by all the studies at Experimental Biology (EB) 2008 that promote lower carb diet habits for insulin resistance? The results of the studies at this years conference had some stark difference from your claims today, which is why I ask."

I find this works best because no one, especially an authority figure, likes to be proved wrong. Also, it makes u seem less boneheaded. Additionally, you may become a "beacon of truth" for other students who see you do your homework on your own about this stuff.

Speak intelligently.
Know your shit.
Be Polite.

I find this link to provide a lot of insight since most of the stuff I do (IF, Paleo, GOMAD) is not "normal" and these techniques help me deal with people and their questions:


Win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.
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