21 Nutritionists Confess Their Pet Peeves
By Christie Griffin
From gluten mania to sketchy health foods, a bunch of nutritionists reveal what really bugs them.
Look, no one's perfect. I never have just a little square of chocolate and my "one" glass of wine per day is a very generous pour. But as a relatively healthy eater, there are some things that make my skin crawl—like those viral videos on Facebook of "cooking" and "baking" concoctions that are incredibly gross to me. Replace the oil and eggs with a can of soda when making boxed cake mix? What, was it not chemical-y enough yet?
Now imagine what it must be like for a nutritionist—someone who really (really) does know better, has degrees on their walls backing up their expertise, and has dedicated their professional lives to the field of healthy eating. What gets their knickers in a twist? Which phrases are like nails on a chalkboard? We reached out to a couple dozen pros to find out what their pet peeves are—because whatever irks them is obviously going to be something you should think twice about when it comes to your own habits and grocery shopping decisions. Find out the biggest pet peeves of professional nutritionists—and then don't miss the 25 Weight Loss Mantras Nutritionists Swear By!
"My #1 all time pet peeve is when companies market their product as healthy, simply because they have added protein to it. This is seen quite a bit in the nutrition supplement world. Manufacturers will create a seemingly-healthy and delicious nutrition bar or product, load it with nuts, protein, chocolate chips or other tasty ingredients, coat it in chocolate, then market it as a health food. While there are some products on the market worth including in your meal plan, many of them are simply glorified candy bars that confuse consumers who are trying to make healthy choices." — Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN and CEO/Nutrition Consultant at Nutrition CheckUp
Related: Don't miss our popular report on The Best and Worst Protein Powders!
"My diet starts tomorrow."
"It makes me cringe when someone says, 'My diet starts tomorrow!' I really wish people would realize that when they start another diet, there will be another excuse around the corner to go off the diet. The diet mentality needs to end. Instead, people should start focusing on their behaviors and changing habits for the long term." — Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, and author of The Small Change Diet
Multi-Grain and Wheat Bread
"One of my pet peeves is when people think multi-grain and wheat bread are automatically healthy choices. Look for 100% wheat or 100% whole grain on the label—because unless 100% is noted, it's likely just white bread with a tiny grain of something added or with caramel color added to make the bread look darker. Even better, check that ingredient list. Is it short and full of things you recognize as real food? If not, put it back on the shelf." — Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, dietitian and blogger at fANNEtasticfood.com
Frosting Out of the Can
"It makes me cringe when I hear that someone (or a parent feeding their kid) will eat frosting out of the can. Like, they'll just scoop it out with a finger—or worse, with a cookie. Frosting has got to be one of the worst things you can eat. Why eat it outside of your birthday? Or even then?" — Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN
"Detox annoys the heck out of me. The body does an amazing job all on its own and does not need silly supplement detox programs to cleanse it. It's absurd; there aren't caked-on toxins hanging around your colon needing to be removed. Want to 'detox?' Purge your diet of manufactured food-like substances and eat fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein!" — Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Don't Miss Our upcoming book Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting, the Doctor-Recommended Plan for Baby and You!
Smoothie Bowls on Instagram
"My pet peeve involves smoothie bowls on Instagram! Smoothie bowls can be a really nutrient-dense meal idea but they can also be calorie bombs, especially if you follow the lead of the many Instagram photos that saturate my feed. The desire to create a beautiful bowl has trumped the desire to portray proper portions. A smoothie alone can get caloric—and when you top that off with what looks like at least an extra 1/4 cup of nuts and seeds, plus another serving fruit, well, those bowls become crazy caloric. While I am not a calorie counter, this has always irked me. Instead, I recommend that my clients use Instagram as inspiration, but that they don't take every photo so literally." — Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, Chef
"Seinfeld really nailed it when they had an episode how everyone was gaining weight from eating frozen yogurt. My clients treat this as a low calories dessert or even a 'freebie,' but it isn't! When you go into a place like 16 Handles and then you load it up with toppings such as brownie bites or cookie dough, you are still giving your body a heavy dose of sugar! My recommendation? What you really want is ice cream and you know it. Go and get a kiddie size or a small size and walk away. You'll be eating fewer calories than you would if you got a large frozen yogurt!" — Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN founder of Real Nutrition NYC
"Sofa snacking is a big pet peeve of mine. Out of habit, many people automatically grab a big snack and eat while they watch TV. You can't possibly enjoy the taste of the food and the show at the same time. Eat at a table first." — Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN Host of Body Kindness podcast
Taking Health Advice from Celebs
"Just because someone is slim doesn't mean they're qualified to give out nutrition advice people! Kristin Cavallari's recipe for goat's milk baby formula?! I cringe at the thought of an uninformed mother feeding her infant something that is unsafe because the lady that was on Laguna Beach did it. If you're looking for a natural option to feed your infant, you can't get any more natural than breastmilk!" — Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT
Shaking on the Salt
"Someone once gave me salt shakers for each person at the dinner table as I was setting the places. I was floored how each person poured on the salt—before even tasting the food. I was also surprised how many salt shakers she had stored in her kitchen cabinet!" — Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day
Avoiding Egg Yolks
"I cringe when I hear the advice to avoid egg yolks. What? Why? No way! Throwing away perfectly good food—especially nutrient-rich egg yolks—is a waste of money, and it doesn't make sense. Egg yolks are packed with great nutrition—they're a lot more nutritious than the whites—and they contain essential fatty acids, vitamin A, and choline, which is good for brain health. So don't dump 'em down the drain, eat 'em in good health instead!" — Liz Weiss, MS, RD, Blogger of Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen, co-host of Cooking with the Moms podcast
All or Nothing Mentality
"My pet peeve is 'all or none' thinking when it comes to eating. While some foods are better than others when it comes to their nutritional value, all foods can fit into an otherwise healthful and balanced diet. If people would stop judging food and nutrients (eg. bread is bad, sugar is toxic) and instead fill up on mostly nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, dairy foods, and whole grains, less nutritious fare can fit into your diet in smaller amounts without derailing it." — Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, author of Younger Next Week
"Paleo desserts touted as healthier than other desserts is our pet peeve. We keep seeing recipes for 'Paleo Snickers,' 'Paleo Twix,' 'Paleo caramel fudge brownies.' You name it—it's been Paleo-d. While we don't take issue with Paleo, putting the Paleo halo onto these desserts makes people feel like they're somehow lighter but many of these servings range from 500 to 700 calories. We're not calorie counters, but it would be tough for someone trying to lose weight to nosh a 700 calorie dessert every night and reach their weight goals. If you love Paleo treats, be very mindful of portion sizes. And if you don't love Paleo treats, dessert is a dish best served without guilt." — Stephanie Clarke MS, RD & Willow Jarosh MS, RD co-founders C&J Nutrition
"One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say, 'Gluten is the devil.' Unless you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, there is no reason to cut out gluten. Too many people go 'gluten-free' because they heard you can lose weight. Gluten-free products contain added fat and calories, and I've seen some people gain weight by switching to gluten-free products." — Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, Co-Author of Should I Scoop out My Bagel
Believing the Excuses
"The phrase 'Everything in moderation' is probably my #1 pet peeve. While it sounds lovely, there are things we shouldn't eat even moderately. We always say: 'That will leave you feeling moderately well, so no thanks." —Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Thin.
"Skipping protein at breakfast and then wondering why you're hungry is a pet peeve of mine. Granola bars, a couple pieces of fruit, or plain toast don't get you very far in terms of satiety. Add nuts and seeds, eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or even leftover beans to breakfast for a protein punch to keep hunger at bay." — Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD., Owner, Marisa Moore Nutrition
"It drives me crazy to hear someone say, 'I can't have that' or 'I'm on a diet' when simply choosing whether or not to eat a food that they love, like pizza. If you can't eat pizza because you're 'dieting,' how are you going to eat pizza when you reach your goal and can 'quit' dieting? The whole on or off, all or none mindset sets you up for failure! Frankly, it's self-torture. Filling up on five slices of pizza tastes good, but then switching to eating no pizza is pure deprivation. And deprivation equals stress, which can stimulate the release of cortisol, a hormone that actually makes you gain weight. Chill out and have one slice of pizza with a salad!" — Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN
Thinking You Can Cut Out an Entire Food Group
"A nutritional pet peeve is when someone brags about not eating something, without realizing that they are still eating it and that completely eliminating it isn't healthy for them anyway. For example, in the 'fat phobic' era of the 1990s, people would say they don't have any fat in their diet, which I knew was not only impossible but it would not be healthy for them. We need essential fatty acids in our diet for a variety of reasons, including vitamin absorption, hair and skin health, and to help ward off chronic diseases like heart disease." — Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight
"A pet peeve of mine is people who push food on you to make themselves feel better about not eating well themselves. I'm sure many people have experienced this at family gatherings or with social drinking. But I'll cut my grandmother some slack—after all, she's 101!" — Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN
Before and After Pictures
"I get disheartened when I see articles highlighting a person's weight loss success through pictures and pounds. I support and admire anyone who's successfully lost weight and kept it off through healthful means. But I also think it's important to focus on how a person's life, feelings, or health improved through lifestyles changes, rather than focusing solely on a person's appearance or the number on the scale." — Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RDN, CSSD
"I find it really frustrating when—despite often knowing better—our society continues to fall into the trap of fad diets to achieve weight loss and better health. It often feels like there's a new diet book every day. Yet, we move from one fad to the next, looking for that quick weight loss 'fix.' I spend most of my time re-educating clients about their approach to lasting weight loss. Practicing balanced nutrition simply takes too long, according to many of them. They want something fast—but sadly, what they get along with rapid weight loss is even more rapid regain later. That cycle of restriction and regain is a pet peeve of mine! I wish more people really understood that step-by-step lifestyle changes make all the difference in the long run!" —Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN
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