A registered dietitian reveals the cold hard facts about food and weight loss on TikTok, urging people never to cut food groups, eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, or fear sugar.
Leah Forristall, 26, from Massachusetts, has more than 73,000 followers on her @the.hiking.dietitian account, where she dispels common myths and misconceptions about healthy eating in her playful series “Hard Truths from a Dietitian.”
“There are many misconceptions about nutrition. Food is personal, everyone needs to eat,” she told Bored Panda, explaining that maintaining a good diet is not black and white or one size fits all.
Keep it real: Registered dietitian Leah Forristall, 26, of Massachusetts, has more than 73,000 followers on TikTok, where she dispels common nutritional myths and misconceptions
Facts: In her popular videos, she dances around to music as her ‘hard truths’ about food and dieting appear on screen
Don’t: Forristall is staunchly against fad diets, and she insists people should eat more than 1,200 calories a day
“There’s actually a big gray area, which is expected because everyone has their own unique, individualized needs,” she said. “People tend to focus on the extremes instead of finding a healthy balance.”
Forristall, a former dancer and hiker, doesn’t believe in unsustainable diets and exercise plans, nor does nutrition need to be overly complicated.
In her popular videos, she dances around to music as her “hard truths” appear on screen, many of which are pushed back by viewers.
She recently caused a stir when she pointed out that sugar is not an “addictive substance” as everyone thinks.
“In some cases, sugar changes the neurochemistry of the brain,” one person commented, but Forristall believes in evidence-based nutrition and is always ready to back up her claims.
Expert: Forristall, a former dancer and walker, pointed out that 1200 calories a day is not enough unless you are “something five feet tall”
FYI, the dietitian has pointed out that people shouldn’t drastically cut calories just because weight loss apps tell them to too
‘That happens with several things, including food in general (sugar or other food). It’s part of what tells our bodies we need food to live!’ she replied.
The dietitian has no problem debunking common nutritional myths, including the long-held belief that sweet potatoes are superior to white potatoes.
“A white potato has slightly more protein than a sweet potato and more potassium, while the sweet potato has a little more fiber than the white potato, but a lot more vitamin A,” she explains.
“It’s best to eat them both. Both are nutritious. You don’t have to cut out the white.’
Forristall also rubbed viewers the wrong way when she noted that the “nutritional difference between white and brown rice is small,” meaning swapping one for the other won’t cause a significant change in diet.
She filmed a follow-up video emphasizing that “science isn’t opinion” after one person commented that it’s “funny that every dietitian has their own beliefs.”
Don’t be afraid of fruit: Forristall has no problem dispelling common misconceptions about sugar and its effect on the body
Don’t be afraid of food: Forristall has pointed out that the ‘nutritional difference between white and brown rice is small’ and ‘added sugar isn’t necessarily bad’
The more you know: In a video, she explained that sweet potatoes are no better than white potatoes, saying that both are nutritious and should be eaten
“If you were to ask those dietitians that you say have a different opinion than I do, why they say what they say, I guarantee that their reasoning actually agrees with mine. It’s just said in a different way,” she insisted, giving the example of white versus brown rice.
“There will definitely be dietitians who will say that brown rice is better than white rice and the reasoning will be that the brown rice has more nutrients. And I never said it wasn’t. I said the difference was small,” she said.
‘Choosing white rice over brown rice has no significant impact on your health. If you go for nutrients, any dietitian will tell you that there are 1000 other whole grains that you would rather choose than rice, white or brown.’
Forristall has also turned to pink Himalayan salt and coconut sugar — both of which have become trendy swaps in recent years — saying they’re no healthier than their mainstream counterparts.
At the end of the day, if you eat a cookie made with coconut sugar, you’re still eating a cookie with sugar.
In a video, she claimed Justin’s peanut butter cups are just a “branding gimmick,” saying, “These are basically no different from Reese’s peanut butter cups. It’s candy.’
No problem: According to Forristall, there are no health benefits to adding coconut oil to coffee
Advice: The TikToker explained in another video that the saturated fat in coconut oil raises cholesterol. She said people can still cook with it, but they should use it sparingly
This one hurts: In a video, she claimed Justin’s peanut butter cups are just a “branding gimmick,” saying, “These are really no different than Reese’s peanut butter cups”
It should come as no surprise that people weren’t happy to learn that Justin’s version of the candy isn’t inherently better just because it’s organic, but she emphasized in the comments that “added sugar is added sugar.”
“People in this app are very quick to the comments and ready to start a fight without really listening to what is being said and asking questions if clarification is needed,” she noted in another video.
Forristall promotes eating plans and lifestyle choices that people can see themselves sticking to a decade later, meaning she doesn’t advise people to drastically cut carbs or give up gluten and dairy if their bodies tolerate it.
Do you want to know the secret to losing weight? It’s not the glamorous answer you’re looking for… The secret is consistency,” she shared in one clip.
She is also adamant about eating 1,200 calories a day to lose weight, which can slow metabolism over time.
‘The amount of calories you need is individual,” she responds to a follower. “Unless you’re something six feet tall, we can guess 1,200” [calories per day] is too little.’