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Nutrition on Twitter: The Starter Pack

Twitter Scrabble

For all the nutrition enthusiasts out there is a Twitter account going to benefit you?

Managing multiple social media accounts can be tricky and sometimes time-consuming, so is it worth setting up another platform?

In my opinion, the answer is yes.

Without question, Twitter has to be one of the best resources for staying in the loop on trending nutrition and science topics. It is also a great tool for nutrition professionals to network and support each other.

While I have been wanting to encourage my peers to get on Twitter for a while now, I recognise that starting out it can be difficult. The initial task of finding people tweeting about topics and issues you are interested in can take some time.

So to make this process easier here is your fairly-comprehensive guide to #NutritionOnTwitter.

Why Twitter?

A different voice

Twitter is distinct from many other social media platforms due to the increased peer to peer interaction.

Many nutrition accounts have a different kind of presence on Twitter.

Facebook and Instagram are often used to interact with the general population.

Twitter, on the other hand, sees more discussion among peers, making it a valuable way to interact with other nutrition professionals and share, discuss and sometimes argue (nicely), about nutrition issues and trending topics.

280 characters

By far my favourite thing about Twitter is the word restriction.

When it comes to commenting on social media, people can often get ah… a little carried away perhaps? The word restriction on Twitter means people need to get their point across concisely, minus the over-sharing – which is right up my ally. No need to tell me your neighbours’ ex-wife’s cousin’s life story thanks. Sometimes a good life story is warranted, just not all the time, please!

Stay up to date on the latest nutrition topics

Twitter is more reactionary than other social media platforms.

There’s no need to think out a long post, it is quick and concise. The result is speedy delivery of treading topics and new studies. For example, when new studies come out, you will often see people sharing their thoughts on Twitter long before you see any posts on Facebook.

If your business model or work involves keeping up with the latest nutrition news, in this regard twitter is invaluable.

Educate

As with any social media platform, Twitter is a great way for us, as nutrition professionals, to get our message out there and counter all the dodgy health and nutrition advice.

I reached out to the good people of Twitter for some extra input. Dr Emma Becket, a molecular nutritionist and keen science communicator has shared some of her thoughts on why she also believes Twitter is an awesome platform for nutrition professionals.

‘I think it is important for nutrition professionals to be active on social media because the charlatans selling fad diets are! There are so many charismatic and good-looking people selling misinformation.

If nutrition professionals don’t get in there and fill the space then we leave it for the snake-oil salespeople and others (who may be well-intentioned, but misinformed) to have all the exposure.

Social media is a great way to reach “everyday people” – not just to give information on nutrition, but to find out what people are thinking – what are their motivations when seeking nutritional information, what are the common sources of confusion and misinformation, why are we all falling for the fads?’

Getting Started

A few pointers for successful Twitter usage, solely based on my obvious expertise in the area, I do have a whopping 504 followers.

The great thing about Twitter is you can really narrow down the accounts you follow to a specific niche if you wish.

Personally, I use Twitter only for nutrition and science. I do this so unlike Facebook, where I am easily distracted by articles discussing impertinent topics such as germ acquisition from hovering versus sitting on public toilet seats… I know when I check Twitter at least 90% of my feed is going to be nutrition-based.

Of course, you will never truly be free from sources of procrastination on social media. Regardless of the niche, you choose to follow it is highly likely you will at some point, find yourself in an internet black hole of an anti-vax debate or similar.

Decide what kind of account you want to be

Your Twitter account can reflect your brand or business

It can be a personal account

Or it can be a combination of both

When it comes to your own tweeting it’s good to include a little personality.

I especially love Dr Beckett’s approach to this, she says ‘I like combining my real life with my work – I feel this helps people to understand science as a process and scientists as people and breaks down those “experts in ivory tower” kind of barriers. People relate to me because I’m not your stereotype of nutrition professional. I’m chubby, I’ve struggled with my weight and diet. I’ve been 58kg-138kg! I thought people would reject “advice” from a curvy nerdy girl, but it turns out people relate to me because I am flawed!’

Follow people from a wide range of fields and locations

One of the perks of social media is being able to interact with people from across the globe.

This means you are able to see if the same topics and trends are conversational in other parts of the world, or if nutrition issues in your country are relevant in other countries.

Diversify your twitter feed.

Find a few accounts that you know will likely share a different perspective on nutrition to you.

Ok please don’t follow Goop or David Avocado Wolf, not straight-up quackery, just branch out a little.

Why?

It’s easy to surround yourself with a social media ‘echo chamber’ this is how many fad diets and questionable science movements – side cough ‘flat earthers’ – end up really convincing themselves these things are true.

For us as nutrition professionals this can mean, as Dr Beckett puts it ‘preaching to the converted’ in essence if you only surround yourself with people who share the same views as you, this negates your ability to reach those who may really benefit from your advice.

It’s also good to be challenged on occasion.

You might start to question certain ideologies and decide that the evidence doesn’t actually support a preconceived view. It’s important to constantly flex our critical thinking skills.

You may also end up enhancing your understanding of a topic when you have to explain your reasoning. One of the best ways to really cement your understanding on a topic is by explaining it someone else. This is even more true when you have to explain it in a way everyone can understand.

Probably the most important outcome is your ability to increase health and science literacy in the public.

You can educate someone else on a topic who may have misunderstood or not fully grasped the concept. Who knows you might even change some minds in the process. Not just the person you are conversing with but also those reading the comments. After all, as nutrition professionals, this is ultimately our goal.

Top Tips

Be nice, don’t be a twat and don’t be THAT guy at the party.

Emma’s much more eloquent explanation.

‘Be inclusive and non-judgemental. People may be misinformed, but you need to share the information you have without being condescending, or you will put people offside very quickly. For academics, I’d say if you don’t want your Dean/Vice-Chancellor to read it, don’t tweet it. For everyone else, I’d say imagine your mum is following you!

My other advice is don’t just self-promote – people see through that and will get bored of it! Lift up others, start real conversations and just ignore the trolls. Social media is also great for professional networking, I have met many of my mentors through twitter, and I also consider myself a mentor to a few people I have met through social media.’

Accounts to Follow

Alright, let’s get to it.

Whether you are a nutrition professional or if you are simply a nutrition enthusiast these are some top picks for solid nutrition, health and science accounts to follow.

I’ve tried to include accounts who are actively involved when it comes to discussions and interacting with others. In my opinion, Twitter is all about who’s got good chat.

There are heaps of great nutrition pros out there with fabulous Facebook and Instagram accounts, many you probably already follow. If they also have Twitter accounts, they will be easy to find. This list, however, will hopefully provide a slightly more unique selection of nutrition pros who you may not be following elsewhere, there will, of course, be some of the usual suspects.

Team Aussie

@synapse101: Dr Emma Becket. One of my favourites! Fangirl moment here, so much sciencey goodness and nutrition chat, her combination of science and nutrition knowledge and achievements equals my life goals.

@CroweTim: Tim Crowe, ‘Nutrition researcher, educator and medical writer’ for the Aussies Tim is a bit of a nutrition legend and one I was lucky enough to have as a lecturer while studying my Master’s.

@HealthDisrupter: Chantelle Vella, kind of like that kid at school who literally knows everyone, always sharing great stuff and getting involved in discussions. You will definitely find a plethora of nutrition accounts to follow through Chantelle.

@WeDietitians: Melanie Voevodin, currently finishing her Phd exploring “what is the role for dietitians in this shifting socio-political landscape” She has extensive experience and knowledge in the area of nutrition and health economics. I respect her willingness to engage in conversation and reply to comments on Twitter.

@ProfCCollins: Professor Clare Collins
@NicoleMSenior : Nicole Senior APD
@rosestant70 : Rosemary Stanton
@SallyMDietitian: Sally Marachini APD
@DietvsDisease: Joe Leech MS RD
@lanahirth: Lana Hirth
@melissa__eaton: Melissa Eaton

Team UK

@MatthewJDalby: Matthew Dalby PhD, I’m sure old mate @MatthewJDalby has no idea who I am, but he is one of my favourite nutrition pros to follow. I find his British humour rather entertaining and he shares some quirky and interesting nutrition tidbits.

@DieteticSpeak: Maeve Hanan, ‘Registered Dietitian, Blogger, Foodie, Skeptic’ lots of great nutrition articles from Maeve and she is the queen of infographics, you definitely need to head over to her blog and check them out.

@rooted_project: The Rooted Project is a team of two dietitians Rosie Saunt @rosie_saunt and Helen West @HelenlouWest, in their words they ‘decided to set out to give the public what they deserve: simple, easy to understand nutrition information. Rooted in science. Based on facts, not fads.’

@laurathomasphd: Laura Thomas PhD, ‘AfN Registered Nutritionist. BBC1 Mind Over Marathon Nutritionist #mindovermarathon Evidence-Based non-diet approach.’

@fightthefads: Another team effort Fight The Fads is a trio of dietitians.

@One_Angry_Chef: The no longer anonymous Anthony Warner is The Angry Chef, taking down food and nutrition myths ‘Angry about lies, pretensions and stupidity in the world of food.’ Rumour has it he’s not actually all that angry.

@SamueleMarcora : Prof in Exercise Physiology investigating the mind/brain in endurance performance, fatigue & physical activity.

@PriyaTew:  ‘Award-winning Dietitian and Media Spokesperson, Pre/postnatal Pilates expert, eating disorder specialist. Sleep-deprived mum of 3 who loves flapjacks.’

@DrDuaneRD: Duane Mellor, ‘Nutrition Academic and Dietitian, likes discussing evidence. Self-proclaimed dogged, hypercritical pedantic cynic.’

@nicsnutrition: Nichola Ludlam-Raine
@TheFoodCoachRD: Sasha Watkins
@louisedietitian: Louise Robertson
@ProfWhelan: Kevin Whelan
@pixienutrition: Pixie Turner
@ClaireBaseley : Claire Baseley, RNutr
@Dr__Guess: Nicola Guess
@RD_Catherine : Catherine Collins
@DrDerbyshire : Dr Emma Derbyshire
@sellis1808: Sarah Ellis
@BrownAdey: Adrian Brown PhD RD

Team North America

@NutritionWonk: Another of my favourites, ‘MS in Nutrition Biochemistry and Epidemiology and a registered dietitian’ Katherine
is super active on Twitter and always engaging in conversation. She also produces a great weekly newsletter of all things going on in the nutrition world.

@KevinH_PhD: Kevin Hall ‘Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).’
@whsource: Stephan Guyenet, PhD ‘The neuroscience of eating behaviour and obesity. Author of The Hungry Brain.’
@DylanMacKayPhD: Dylan Mackay ‘Dad | Nutritional Biochemist | Newfoundlander | T1 Diabetic | I like jokes but take science seriously ‘
@JohnNCoupland: John Coupland, ‘Professor of Food Science at Penn State.’
@YoniFreedhoff: Yoni Freedhoff, MD ‘Obesity MD/Assistant Prof Ottawa U./Dad/Speaker/Author’
@KCKlatt: Kevin C. Klatt
@rachelepojednic: Dr Rachele Pojednic
@DrWhoReads: Lua Wilkinson
@kevinnbass: Kevin Bass, MS
@The_Nutrivore: Nick Hiebert
@ahhite: Adele Hite
@CakeNutrition: Jake Mey RD
@GardnerPhD: Christopher Gardner PhD
@IKnowNutrition: Michael Hull MSc
@lchfRD: Joy Kiddie MSc, RD
@donlayman: Don Layman

Global Health and International Nutrition

@SandroDemaio: Dr Sandro Demaio, a bit of a superstar in the global health arena definitely my top pick for this section. ‘Medical doctor w @WHO talking food, NCDs & global health.’
@NutritionIntl: ‘a global organization that delivers proven nutrition interventions to vulnerable people.’ @JoelCSpicer is the President and CEO.
@SightandLife: ‘Humanitarian nutrition think tank championing the global fight against malnutrition by advancing research, sharing best practices & mobilizing support’
@FoodNutSecurity: Denise van Wissen ‘Nutritionist in Nicaragua, tackling malnutrition in all its forms.’
@SUN_Movement: ‘Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is a country-led movement advancing health and development through improved nutrition.’
@1000Days: ‘Helping break the cycle of hunger & poverty by championing better nutrition for women & children.’
@GNReport: Global Nutrition Report
@CorinnaHawkes: Dedicated to finding food policy solutions for better eating & public health, everywhere.
@Jo_Lofty: Jo Lofthouse
@Examinecom: Examine.com

Maternal and Childhood Nutrition

@SR_Nutrition: Charlotte Stirling-Reed ‘Specialist in maternal & child nutrition’ lots of great tweets from Charlotte focusing on childhood nutrition issues.
@EarlyStartRNutr: ‘Registered Nutritionists, offering Early Years staff Certified Training/Health Awards. Consultancy services for Wellbeing, Nutrition needs’
@LippeNutrition: ‘Registered Nutritionist (RNutr) specialising in paediatric and maternal nutrition.’
@Sara_Patience: Sara Patience ‘Health Writer & Author of *Easy Weaning*’
@AP_Nutrition: Anna Potter, RNutr. ‘Registered Nutritionist and single mum to nutty tot.’
@DietitianHannah: Hannah Brown ‘PhD Candidate @Uni_Newcastle and Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Research focuses on nutrition in pregnancy’
@The_Dietologist: Dietitian specialising in fertility and pregnancy.
@MelanieMcGrice: A leading Australian dietitian specialising in nutrition for fertility, pregnancy & women’s health.

Sports Nutrition

@TheAlanAragon: Alan Aragon ‘The Ron Burgundy of Nutrition’
@JoeJohnMatthews: Joe Matthews, ‘PhD student (Physiology) at NTU, Lecturer in Sports Therapy at UCB. Exercise and nutrition scientist with below average athletic ability.’
@BodyForWife: James Fell
@BioLayne: Layne Norton PhD
@Jeukendrup: Asker Jeukendrup
@Gemma_DWB: Gemma Sampson RD, APD
@LiamOliverNutri: Liam Oliver MSc, SENr
@close_nutrition: Prof Graeme L. Close
@Gonzalez_JT: Javier Gonzalez
@JamesyMorton: James Morton
Sale_ExNut: Craig Sale
ElliottSale: Kirsty Sale
@DrBSteamjets: James Betts
@ProfNeilWalsh: Neil Walsh
@LouiseMBurke: Louise Burke
@JohnAHawley: John Hawley
@Jozo_Grgic: Jozo Grgic
@cashford_: Charles Ashford
@Wendi_Irlbeck: Wendi Irlbeck
@HughesDC_Muscle: Dave Hughes
@YLMSportScience: Yann Le Meur
@sweatscience: Alex Hutchinson
@Compeat_Nutr: Alicia Edge
@juliannejtaylor: Julianne Taylor
@NutritionDanny: Danny Lennon
@JoseAntonioPhD: Jose Antonio PhD
@EricTrexler: Eric Trexler PhD
@NanciGuestRDPhD: Nancie Guest RD PhD
@mackinprof: Stuart Phillips PhD

Gut Health

@Leicnut: Nutrition Doc, Clinical Lead of the Leicester Intestinal Failure Team. The Nutrition Doc, obviously passionate about his job, tells me “It’s incredibly complex difficult medicine where the worst pathology crosses with the most difficult nutrient/electrolyte issues. It rocks.”
@MicrobiomDigest: Elisabeth Bik ‘Scientist, Microbiology, PhD, Science Editor’
@MonashFODMAP: Monash FODMAP
@TheGutHealthDoc: Dr Megan Rossi ‘Feeding you the latest news on Gut Health.’
@GutFoundation: ‘Founded by Professor Terry Bolin, The Gut Foundation is a not for profit organisation specialising in research and education on all aspects of digestive health.’
@AndreaHardyRD: Andrea Hardy RD

Health at Every Size (HAES)

@FionaWiller: ‘Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, uni lecturer, presenter, author, academic and mum. Mid PhD in Health at Every Size’
@FionaBodyPosAus: Fiona Sutherland APD ‘The Mindful Dietitian Co-Director of Body Positive Australia Yoga Teacher, Mindful eating & Body Image HAES & NonDiet advocate’
@HAEScoach: Kerry ‘HAES, non-diet approach, body image, public health, food politics, blue zones & cat lover’
@feelgoodeats: Nina Mills

Not Nutrition, but fun Sciencey Stuff

@iamscicomm: This awesome account has scientists from all areas of science take over moderate the account and talk sci comm on a rotating basis.
@MJA_Editor: Editor-in-Chief for Australian Medical Journal of Australia
@_captainscience: The anonymous Captain Science ‘Fighting against pseudoscientific nonsense one tweet at a time.’ I’m sure there’s someone out there who knows the Captains secret identity, but for now, this is a Twitter mystery.
@michellegwriter: Michelle Guillemard, some great articles, advice and courses for health writers and science communication.
@Botanygeek: James Wong as the name suggests is a botany geek, sharing interesting plant and food facts also busting a few myths in the process.

Doctors Calling Out Pseudoscience

@AlastairMcA30: Alastair McAlpine, a Paediatrician calling out pseudoscience in some usually rather entertaining Tweets.
@AllergyKidsDoc: Dr. Dave Stukus is specifically busting myths about allergies and asthma.
@DoctorChristian: Dr Christian Jessen
@DoctorKarl: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, another Aussie science legend, who doesn’t love Dr Karl?
@gorskon: David Gorski ‘Surgeon, scientist, sceptic promoting science and exposing quackery, and editor of Science-Based Medicine.’
@AviBittMD: Avi Bitt MD

You should, of course, add @aidan_dietitian (who runs this blog) to your list of Twitter must follows, and you can find me tweeting @eleiseb

Once you start following people, Twitter will give you suggestions for similar accounts. You will also find other accounts through your feed because you will see what and who people are liking, retweeting and commenting on.

Hopefully, this will inspire some of you to get tweeting.

When It comes to social media we can never have too many nutrition professionals in the kitchen.

This list really only scratches the surface. We would love to hear your thoughts on your favourite accounts to follow, or if you think there is an important subsection left out. Please comment and let us know!

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