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Answer: First, check out the author's credentials. "A registered dietitian has the widest background in nutritional counseling," says Milton Stokes, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. If the author isn't an RD, look for an MPH (master of public health), a PhD in nutrition or a related field, or an MD. Next, read the introduction. "If it promises that you will 'effortlessly' lose more than two pounds a week, it's a definite red flag," says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2006). Another bad sign: when an author states that all the diet advice you've gotten before is untrue. "If it goes against everything you know to be fact, don't believe it," says Somer.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, February 2006.