What’s Wrong in Saying ‘Trust a Dietitian’?

Lucy Aphramor
9 min readJan 5, 2021
White box with influencer crossed out, then registered dietitian centred in capitals, and nutritionist crossed out below.

The chairperson of a dietetic association said my blog post condemning weight conversion, aka dieting, was bringing the profession into disrepute and told me to remove it. Or else.

Lots of dietitians, me included, believe that it is the silence, not the speaking up, that brings the profession into disrepute. And more to the point, we put safety, integrity, and liberation before PR.

However, the legacy of poor leadership will be with us for a long while yet. This means we need to train ourselves to notice and reject the ways we have been groomed to support the status quo.

Take the message in the image for instance — people without a dietetic degree cannot be reliable sources of nutrition information. So they should butt out of food conversations and leave commentary to the experts. That’s us. Registered Dietitians. RDs.

Here we are, it says, at the top of the nutrition know-how tree, untouchable with our bona fida credentials. Our allegiance to evidence-based practice apparently clinches the claim.

There’s a few tweaked versions that do the rounds. And now I’ve commented, do you see the arrogance?

Yes, the fact that people qualified only by popularity, not relevant learning, are saying downright dangerous things about eating is a problem that needs addressing.

But creating a homogenous group made of all ‘non-RDs’ and then dismissing everyone in it isn’t a useful response. It’s just lazy scapegoating.

It’s also disrespectful, and doesn’t serve social justice. For sure, wielding establishment expertise like this is part of a broader culture of harm. That doesn’t make us less culpable, it makes us complicit.

The fact that we some of our leaders quash critique and permit harm is an embarrassment and an indictment. It impedes change but it needn’t stop it. Transformation means we need to understand the problem and adopt new, liberatory values. Unpicking the ‘we’re superior’ message is a useful entry point. Here goes.

So yes, we learn things and we work hard to qualify, this much is true. But it doesn’t grant us a group-exclusive capacity for helping people make sense of eating. Creating RDs as unique uses a tactic twinned with…

Lucy Aphramor

Lucy Aphramor is a radical dietitian and performance poet. They are Associate Professor of Gender, Power, and The Right to Food at CAWR, Coventry University UK.