Monica-ReinagelNutrition Diva” Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, takes a commonsense approach to nutrition, which she shares with her followers through her podcasts, blog, and books.

“I’d rather crusade for common sense and reason than satisfy the media’s insatiable need for content,” says the Baltimore-based board-certified nutritionist and professionally trained chef (as well as professional opera singer). Meaning that in the big picture, so much of the nutrition news that makes headlines today just isn’t that big a deal, according to Reinagel. “Something can be true without being particularly important,” she says, explaining that she sees her role as helping to sort out which “headline of the hour” is meaningful and by so doing “talk people down from their fears.”

Reinagel has developed a reputation as a mythbuster and takes that responsibility seriously. “I check facts, and I find out whether there is any scientific basis for nutrition claims being made,” she says. “We’re living in an age of anxiety … there’s always something new to worry about.”

Among the myths she dispels:
  • Gluten-free foods are healthier. “For those who are gluten intolerant, a gluten-free diet is essential,” Reinagel says. For everyone else, it’s not necessary. And remember, she emphasizes, a gluten-free doughnut is still a doughnut.
  • Microwaving has a toxic effect on food. Not so. True, you don’t want to microwave in plastic containers, but apart from that, microwaving is just another way of heating food. And for many foods, such as veggies, microwaving is a healthier method because you don’t have to cook them so long that you lose nutritional value.
  • Eating more frequently speeds your metabolism. “This simply is not true,” Reinagel says. Eating small meals more frequently may keep you from getting hungry so you won’t splurge later in the day, but it does nothing for your metabolism.
  • Certain foods burn fats. There is some truth in this, according to Reinagel. Foods such as green tea and chili peppers, for example, can have a tiny effect on fat, but it’s so minimal as to be “kind of silly,” she says.
Through her weekly Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts (which have been downloaded more than 10 million times), Nutrition Over Easy blog, and digital/audio books, Nutrition Zombies: Top 10 Myths That Refuse to Die (and How to Keep Them From Sabotaging Your Diet), Nutrition Diva’s 5 Secrets for Aging Well, and How to Win at Losing: 10 Diet Myths That Keep You from Succeeding, Reinagel has embraced new media as a way to reach more people and be in constant contact with her audience.

Before going digital, Reinagel worked as a freelance health and nutrition writer for print publications. She was interested in podcasting and serendipitously came across the Quick and Dirty Tips website, which happened to be looking for a nutritionist with a scientific bent (“Just my orientation!” Reinagel notes).

“It was a case of lucky timing,” Reinagel says. Hooking up with the folks at Quick and Dirty Tips spared her the learning curve of how to actually do a podcast; all she does is provide the content and they take care of the technical aspect. From the podcasts have come the blog and the books.

“I had written three books in the ‘old media world,’ which takes a long time,” Reinagel says. “But now, I get hundreds of e-mails each week from people who follow me not only through the podcasts and blog but on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Taking my work online has turned being a health writer into something more gratifying and fulfilling. Instead of a one-way form of communication, I now have conversations with my readers and listeners. I just love it.”

You can find Reinagel online at www.nutrition or http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirty