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  1. #1
    Registered User SuperiorBro's Avatar
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    Question Writing diets for people for money... legal?

    Hi there guys. The past few years i've written my friends diets for free.
    I've now just recently started a facebook page, where i write people diets, post up my meals along with complete nutritional content and other stuff. Being this time of year, i've been making quite a bit of money off of it, thing is i have no qualifications in terms of nutrition. Only my own success is what's bringing in the clients.

    First of all, im wondering if this is legal?

    Secondly, if anybody had any tips as to how to increase my credibility, i would be much obliged.
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  2. #2
    pirate ninja kitteh rockangel's Avatar
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    Would depend upon the laws in scotland. In america, it depends upon the laws of the state. So you need to research the laws of your land.
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  3. #3
    Registered User LivingStrongE's Avatar
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    I have no idea in Scotland. I personally wouldn't do it. If you aren't certified then stay away from it. Something happens to them because of your advice then the fingers will be pointed towards you. But like I said idk how Scotland run in these type of issues but over here I'm in the process of getting PT certified. If a client asks me about what they should eat or take I will just tell them "See a nutritionist or dietitian".
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  4. #4
    Registered User PeteratCastle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    Hi there guys. The past few years i've written my friends diets for free.
    I've now just recently started a facebook page, where i write people diets, post up my meals along with complete nutritional content and other stuff. Being this time of year, i've been making quite a bit of money off of it, thing is i have no qualifications in terms of nutrition. Only my own success is what's bringing in the clients.

    First of all, im wondering if this is legal?

    Secondly, if anybody had any tips as to how to increase my credibility, i would be much obliged.
    No it is not, unless you have the proper certification/diplomas. You are leaving yourself open to a world of hurt. What if any of the people you have been writing for has anything happen to them because you didn't take an allergy into account? Peanut allergies are brutal, if you give them a recipe that contains even a trace of nuts you could kill them and you would you're legally responsible. you would probably find yourself doing time and will definitely be getting sued in massive way by family etc. even if they only have to take a few days off work they could sue you and you would lose more than you can afford.

    I am one of the few PTs in Edinburgh that offers personalised nutritional advice and I have to jump through hoops to do it (including working with registered dieticians).

    What you could do to take the liability away is put a disclaimer in your work. That disclaimer will have to say that you don't have a qualification though so it would hurt your credibility. You also have to stop giving personalised advice, you could go down the route of just giving general advice (like loads of diet books do). Even diet books come with a disclaimer though.

    The way to increase your credibility is to go to uni for 3+ years as that's the only thing that will allow you to give out personalised diets.

    Cliffs; own Facebook page with disclaimer is OK
    Personalised diet advice you have to stop with immediately.
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  5. #5
    Essay Brah MyAvatar's Avatar
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    Wow i am ignorant

    I automatically assumed itd be legal
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  6. #6
    Registered User PeteratCastle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MyAvatar View Post
    Wow i am ignorant

    I automatically assumed itd be legal
    Nah, wish it was mate...would make my life a hell of a lot easier if it was. Now I have to pay a RD to go over my diets.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    Nah, wish it was mate...would make my life a hell of a lot easier if it was. Now I have to pay a RD to go over my diets.
    Fuuu no fair
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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    Hi there guys. The past few years i've written my friends diets for free.
    I've now just recently started a facebook page, where i write people diets, post up my meals along with complete nutritional content and other stuff. Being this time of year, i've been making quite a bit of money off of it, thing is i have no qualifications in terms of nutrition. Only my own success is what's bringing in the clients.

    First of all, im wondering if this is legal?

    Secondly, if anybody had any tips as to how to increase my credibility, i would be much obliged.
    If people are stupid enough to pay a 19 year old bodybuilder with no credentials to program a full diet for them then they are probably not going to sue you. Is that you're doing illegal? I don't know about laws there.
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  9. #9
    Registered User transformerchad's Avatar
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    i honestly thought it would be legal , its the persons choice to follow the diet or not lol
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  10. #10
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    Originally Posted by transformerchad View Post
    i honestly thought it would be legal , its the persons choice to follow the diet or not lol
    But you are representing yourself as the man in the know and that's why you have to have a disclaimer.
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  11. #11
    Registered User PeteratCastle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WoofieNugget View Post
    If people are stupid enough to pay a 19 year old bodybuilder with no credentials to program a full diet for them then they are probably not going to sue you. Is that you're doing illegal? I don't know about laws there.
    True about the first part, I sure as hell wouldn't pay a 19 YO to write out a diet for me but he needs to let people know that he only has his own experience to go by. (even Mike Dolce had to do that when he wrote the Dolce Diet, and he has a fair bit more knowledge than OP)
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  12. #12
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    It is legal
    It is not legal to claim you are certified
    If someone falls ill on your meal plan there is no saving you. you will be sued and ruined for life.
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  13. #13
    Registered User SuperiorBro's Avatar
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    I'm in the process of writing a disclaimer. Basically stating that i have nothing in the way of actual qualifications, and all that i apply is through my own experience.

    Also when i do my consolations with people i find out if they are on any medication / have any allergies. So there's no chance of being sued through that... i think im in the clear once i get the disclaimer out the way. They know i have no qualifications, they willingly pay me (not that much il add) and the diets are usually pretty balanced straightforward diets that are suited to their individual goals.

    Thanks for all of your advices.
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  14. #14
    Registered User SuperiorBro's Avatar
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    Also i am planning on getting a qualification when i can afford it... currently its totally not feasible.

    What are the worth while ones to look out for? I've been told there are good ones that actually show credibility , and then you just get ones that are a waste of time?

    I just want to write diets for a living. It brings me pleasure helping people with their diets.
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  15. #15
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    My question is why? I'm not willing to expose myself to that risk because I don't see the benefit. I'd focus on exposing them to widely published (perhaps national?) standards. I've said this time and time again: diet is very simple, but nobody adheres to it. Giving your client a piece of paper and saying "Eat this" is not going to work for the majority of your clients.

    I use their current diet as a starting point. I will usually pick one meal and try to improve their meal choices one meal at a time. If I can get them to eat a nutritious breakfast that includes real food and maybe some fruit, that is a win in my book. Once they have mastered a month of that change, then we can move on.
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  16. #16
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    Hate to break it to you and don't want to sound like a d but you're doing a serious disservice providing basically regurgitated information into a diet plan for people that are naive enough to buy from you.

    It doesn't come down to just "hitting your macros" in cases like this.

    There is a reason hospitals(and in relevant terms elite facilities otherwise) hire registered dieticians(RD) in place of hiring non-certified(or hell even certified) "personal trainers" to create nutrition programs...
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  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    I'm in the process of writing a disclaimer. Basically stating that i have nothing in the way of actual qualifications, and all that i apply is through my own experience.

    Also when i do my consolations with people i find out if they are on any medication / have any allergies. So there's no chance of being sued through that... i think im in the clear once i get the disclaimer out the way. They know i have no qualifications, they willingly pay me (not that much il add) and the diets are usually pretty balanced straightforward diets that are suited to their individual goals.

    Thanks for all of your advices.
    I hope you are getting a lawyer to write one for you. Or at least getting the advise of one after you have written it. I see lawyers shred business agreements written by people with out legal advise.
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    Originally Posted by MrCompulsiveX View Post
    Hate to break it to you and don't want to sound like a d but you're doing a serious disservice providing basically regurgitated information into a diet plan for people that are naive enough to buy from you.

    It doesn't come down to just "hitting your macros" in cases like this.

    There is a reason hospitals(and in relevant terms elite facilities otherwise) hire registered dieticians(RD) in place of hiring non-certified(or hell even certified) "personal trainers" to create nutrition programs...
    This
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  19. #19
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    I'm in the process of writing a disclaimer. Basically stating that i have nothing in the way of actual qualifications, and all that i apply is through my own experience.

    Also when i do my consolations with people i find out if they are on any medication / have any allergies. So there's no chance of being sued through that... i think im in the clear once i get the disclaimer out the way. They know i have no qualifications, they willingly pay me (not that much il add) and the diets are usually pretty balanced straightforward diets that are suited to their individual goals.

    Thanks for all of your advices.
    I think it is a very common misconception that a disclaimer is a "get out of jail free" sort of deal - a disclaimer does not prevent lawsuits and it does not protect you from doing things that may end up being stupid. You may know not to put nuts on a meal plan for a person with a nut allergy, but do you know how to recognize the signs of undiagnosed PCOS in a woman (which many overweight women suffer from) and how to adjust her macronutrient intake accordingly? And do you know the consequences of an improper diet for a woman with such a condition? Probably not.

    If you want to write meal plans for a living, get the credentials. If you can't afford qualifications, then don't practice it. Find another job in the meantime.
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    I think its ok to make basic nutritional recommendations to clients but a specific diet plan is a different story.
    When i was competing years ago people would want know what type of diet i was doing.
    I would let them know but with the stipulation this was designed specifically for me.
    Its kind of like giving advice for an injury,this is what worked for me but i am not a doctor and i would ask your own doc before trying.
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    My question is why? I'm not willing to expose myself to that risk because I don't see the benefit. I'd focus on exposing them to widely published (perhaps national?) standards. I've said this time and time again: diet is very simple, but nobody adheres to it. Giving your client a piece of paper and saying "Eat this" is not going to work for the majority of your clients.

    I use their current diet as a starting point. I will usually pick one meal and try to improve their meal choices one meal at a time. If I can get them to eat a nutritious breakfast that includes real food and maybe some fruit, that is a win in my book. Once they have mastered a month of that change, then we can move on.

    You've got me all wrong, thats not what i do. I educate on the laws of calories in vs calories out, macro nutrients, micro nutrients, calculating maintenances, deficit's and surplus's. THEN i write the diet and show them how to do it.
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    Originally Posted by sonti View Post
    I think it is a very common misconception that a disclaimer is a "get out of jail free" sort of deal - a disclaimer does not prevent lawsuits and it does not protect you from doing things that may end up being stupid. You may know not to put nuts on a meal plan for a person with a nut allergy, but do you know how to recognize the signs of undiagnosed PCOS in a woman (which many overweight women suffer from) and how to adjust her macronutrient intake accordingly? And do you know the consequences of an improper diet for a woman with such a condition? Probably not.

    If you want to write meal plans for a living, get the credentials. If you can't afford qualifications, then don't practice it. Find another job in the meantime.
    Is it not up to them to declare such things before i go ahead writing ? I state in the disclaimer that they HAVE to declare all conditions and medications to me.
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    Is it not up to them to declare such things before i go ahead writing ? I state in the disclaimer that they HAVE to declare all conditions and medications to me.
    That won't protect you in court, especially if you start practicing in the scope that registered dieticians do. It really depends on how you do things - I could give you medical advice and say "but I'm not a doctor", but if I'm charging clients on the side and giving medical advice, you bet your butt I could be breaking the law. You may be crossing the boundaries of a licensed profession! *May, might, could... maybe not. It really depends on how you do things and the details/laws of where you live.
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    Is it not up to them to declare such things before i go ahead writing ? I state in the disclaimer that they HAVE to declare all conditions and medications to me.
    I believe that statement says it all. If I saw a disclaimer like that, I would think you would have the necessary qualifications, licenses, insurance, etc to be able to write a diet for people with medical conditions. I doubt a 19-year old would.

    Believe me, if someone has a complication when they are on your diet they will look to sue. Whether it is your fault or not doesn't matter. Defense attorneys get paid by the hour. If you can't afford to get certified, you can't afford an attorney. Without an attorney, it would be hard to win any case brought against you even if you are 100% right.

    Then it would be hard to ever get licensed after that. Nobody would hire a dietitian who has been sued for his diet plans. I'm not even sure you could get licensed/certified/whatever after that. Getting professional liability insurance would be difficult if not impossible. The damage to your credit would be rough as well.

    Not trying to squash your dreams. I'm just trying to help you realize what could happen so you aren't forced to give up your dream 6 months down the road after it has become a nightmare.
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    Originally Posted by PerFit View Post
    It is legal
    It is not legal to claim you are certified
    If someone falls ill on your meal plan there is no saving you. you will be sued and ruined for life.
    I don't believe this is black and white. Although it is parroted on this forum, it is not inherently illegal to give diet plans to your clients. Here are the main considerations:

    1) State law. You should research, or better yet, hire a lawyer to research your state's laws regarding this matter. Each state will have a unique perspective for the legality of personal trainers offering nutritional advice.

    2) Scope of practice. Your scope of practice as determined by your education, certification, or licensure. Often it is appropriate for personal trainers to give nutritional recommendations for fitness goals. It is NEVER appropriate to give nutritional advice to treat pathology or to individuals with medically controlled diseases (unless you are licensed to do so).

    3) Informed consent (and waiver). Your client must be able to give informed consent. Do not make claims that are untrue. Be completely forthcoming in your education, your program, and always require doctor's approval. And remember, you are ALWAYS responsible for negligence, even with a waiver.

    With that said, unless you have sufficient training in nutrition, why try to be something you're not?

    As trainers, we need to be better educators of the value of exercise as an end, and not a means.
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    Originally Posted by ericmackcarter View Post
    I don't believe this is black and white. Although it is parroted on this forum, it is not inherently illegal to give diet plans to your clients. Here are the main considerations:

    1) State law. You should research, or better yet, hire a lawyer to research your state's laws regarding this matter. Each state will have a unique perspective for the legality of personal trainers offering nutritional advice.

    2) Scope of practice. Your scope of practice as determined by your education, certification, or licensure. Often it is appropriate for personal trainers to give nutritional recommendations for fitness goals. It is NEVER appropriate to give nutritional advice to treat pathology or to individuals with medically controlled diseases (unless you are licensed to do so).

    3) Informed consent (and waiver). Your client must be able to give informed consent. Do not make claims that are untrue. Be completely forthcoming in your education, your program, and always require doctor's approval. And remember, you are ALWAYS responsible for negligence, even with a waiver.

    With that said, unless you have sufficient training in nutrition, why try to be something you're not?

    As trainers, we need to be better educators of the value of exercise as an end, and not a means.
    I don't think anyone could have put it better!
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    Originally Posted by ericmackcarter View Post
    I don't believe this is black and white. Although it is parroted on this forum, it is not inherently illegal to give diet plans to your clients. Here are the main considerations:

    1) State law. You should research, or better yet, hire a lawyer to research your state's laws regarding this matter. Each state will have a unique perspective for the legality of personal trainers offering nutritional advice.

    2) Scope of practice. Your scope of practice as determined by your education, certification, or licensure. Often it is appropriate for personal trainers to give nutritional recommendations for fitness goals. It is NEVER appropriate to give nutritional advice to treat pathology or to individuals with medically controlled diseases (unless you are licensed to do so).

    3) Informed consent (and waiver). Your client must be able to give informed consent. Do not make claims that are untrue. Be completely forthcoming in your education, your program, and always require doctor's approval. And remember, you are ALWAYS responsible for negligence, even with a waiver.

    With that said, unless you have sufficient training in nutrition, why try to be something you're not?

    As trainers, we need to be better educators of the value of exercise as an end, and not a means.

    Thanks for the advice. I think im going to look into what i need to do to get onto the road of doing this as a living then. Thanks everyone for taking the time to advise me.
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    No it is not, unless you have the proper certification/diplomas. You are leaving yourself open to a world of hurt. What if any of the people you have been writing for has anything happen to them because you didn't take an allergy into account? Peanut allergies are brutal, if you give them a recipe that contains even a trace of nuts you could kill them and you would you're legally responsible. you would probably find yourself doing time and will definitely be getting sued in massive way by family etc. even if they only have to take a few days off work they could sue you and you would lose more than you can afford.

    I am one of the few PTs in Edinburgh that offers personalised nutritional advice and I have to jump through hoops to do it (including working with registered dieticians).

    What you could do to take the liability away is put a disclaimer in your work. That disclaimer will have to say that you don't have a qualification though so it would hurt your credibility. You also have to stop giving personalised advice, you could go down the route of just giving general advice (like loads of diet books do). Even diet books come with a disclaimer though.

    The way to increase your credibility is to go to uni for 3+ years as that's the only thing that will allow you to give out personalised diets.

    Cliffs; own Facebook page with disclaimer is OK
    Personalised diet advice you have to stop with immediately.

    Just looked up this kind of thing in the UK...

    ''There are different types of nutrition professionals; let's look at the definitions:

    Nutritionist
    This is an unprotected term. Anyone can read a few books or sit on a few short courses and then go and sell their service as a 'nutritionist' with no formal qualifications or registration. ''




    Dietitian (also Dietician*)
    To call yourself a dietitian you have to be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC – www.hpc-uk.org ) and you will be a State Registered Dieitian (SRD) or simply Registered Dietitian (RD). All of these terms are protected and it is unlawful to sell your services with these terms unless you are registered with the HPC



    Registered Nutritionist
    Registered Nutritionists are full members of The Nutrition Society (see www.nutritionsociety.org). In order to be a member of The Nutrition Society you need a few years post graduation experience working in the nutrition field and references to prove this.



    From what im reading, im doing what the first of the three are, and nothing indicates what im doing is as bad as you make it seem?

    Not in any way arguing with you, i respect your advice, im just curious as im reading things that kind of contradict what your saying
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    There are statutory regulations in 44(?) states now. Most of them are
    Licensure requiring a license for any type of meal plan whatsoever. I did quite a bit of research on this because I found out not too long ago.
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    Originally Posted by SuperiorBro View Post
    Just looked up this kind of thing in the UK...

    ''There are different types of nutrition professionals; let's look at the definitions:

    Nutritionist
    This is an unprotected term. Anyone can read a few books or sit on a few short courses and then go and sell their service as a 'nutritionist' with no formal qualifications or registration. ''




    Dietitian (also Dietician*)
    To call yourself a dietitian you have to be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC – www.hpc-uk.org ) and you will be a State Registered Dieitian (SRD) or simply Registered Dietitian (RD). All of these terms are protected and it is unlawful to sell your services with these terms unless you are registered with the HPC



    Registered Nutritionist
    Registered Nutritionists are full members of The Nutrition Society (see www.nutritionsociety.org). In order to be a member of The Nutrition Society you need a few years post graduation experience working in the nutrition field and references to prove this.



    From what im reading, im doing what the first of the three are, and nothing indicates what im doing is as bad as you make it seem?

    Not in any way arguing with you, i respect your advice, im just curious as im reading things that kind of contradict what your saying
    The laws are different in the US for nutritionists I believe. Regardless, why play with something beyond most of our comprehensions. Stick to very basic advice pointing your clients in the right direction until you get an RD
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