Spending a lot of time in the world of nutrition, it's easy to get caught up in a bit of a bubble.

It happens to us all, of course (not helped by social media, which is a whole other story). For me it can sometimes seem as if every second person is following a special diet, avoiding dairy, cutting carbs or going gluten-free.

The whole world, it can appear, is embracing the latest food trend.

It's refreshing to know that outside the bubble, that's not necessarily the case.


Recent research commissioned by Fonterra into Kiwis' attitudes towards food trends has found most of us are not excluding foods or following particular diets.

The research surveyed 1055 New Zealanders and uncovered insights on where we get our nutritional information from, who we trust, and how much we understand.

Although more people say they're limiting carbs than say they avoid meat (8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively), this is outweighed by the 67 per cent who say they do not avoid any foods or exclude any food groups.

Only 10 per cent of people say they love food trends and eating plans, with the remaining 90 per cent saying no to dietary trends of any kind. However, 50 per cent of people still say they are confused by food trends.

This tallies with my experience of talking to Kiwis all over the country. We are surrounded by information on food and health, but it hasn't made us any healthier. That's because much of that information is unreliable, inaccurate or simply confusing.

It's no wonder 31 per cent of people in this survey say the food trends and diets are "just fads" and they don't give them any attention.

Who we trust for nutrition advice is interesting. Inside my bubble I'd have been inclined to cynically say celebrities, bloggers, YouTube stars and Facebook "wellness" pages.

But this may not be so. In the Fonterra survey, the "most trusted" people from whom to get diet and nutrition information were nutritionists, doctors and dietitians, with social media at just 9 per cent and celebrities ranking a lowly 2 per cent.

However friends, family and colleagues were at 29 per cent and gyms and personal trainers 17 per cent. Neither of these is necessarily a reliable source of credible information. But this highlights our human tendency to trust personal recommendations when it comes to health.

It's worth noting that although the term "nutritionist" sounds highly expert, anyone can, in fact, call themselves this.

You could do an online course, a weekend seminar or indeed no training at all and describe yourself thus. A registered nutritionist, however, has a degree in Human Nutrition and is registered with the Nutrition Society of NZ, where they're subject to ongoing continuing competency requirements.

It's always worth checking on registration. Dietitians are governed by different, stricter rules, and must have a dietetics qualification.

I find it quite refreshing that Kiwis are not, in general, swayed by food fads. But unsurprising to see that confusion is still widespread.

We still have a long way to go before we're naturally and confidently eating well.

•Niki Bezzant is editor-at-large of Healthy Food Guide.