Dalina Soto, MA, RD, LDN
The expert: You've probably come across Dalina Soto's IG account when looking for Latinx health experts to follow. The Dominicana is well known for taking an anti-diet stance, and she specifically helps Latinas end chronic dieting, eliminate food guilt, and embrace their culture. Soto's path to becoming a registered dietitian started when she was in college. "I took a nutrition class during my undergrad and fell in love with the preventative care side of things," she tells POPSUGAR Latina. "Little did she know it would lead to the huge following she has now on her Instagram page where she strives to educate her followers on the importance of being their healthiest selves without the food restrictions.
Her anti-diet philosophy: Soto says her approach to educating her clients comes from a science-based perspective using data from nutritional sciences. "I work from a weight-neutral perspective, which means I work on finding health outside of a number on a scale and holistically," she explains. In addition to this strategy, she also works on their physical and mental health, aiming to eliminate the fear of food, inspiring them to cook more, eat more veggies, and work out to feel good, energized, and strong. "I want them to walk away with all my knowledge so that they never fear food again and can use the tools I teach them through all life cycles." Soto dispels one of the worst dieting myths she's heard over and over again by clients. " The worst dieting myth is that sugar in all forms is bad, which leads to people avoiding fruit, which is so nutritious over the fear of sugar," she says, adding, "Yes, there are many types of sugar, no they aren't bad. But we need to learn how they work in the body and the differences without fearing them."
Fighting food shaming: Soto does her best to explain to clients that there is no such thing as good or bad foods—this includes popular traditional Latinx foods. "When you compare side by side, you see our dishes provide us with proper nutrition and often more, " she says. She uses rice and beans and tacos as an example because they contain lean protein along with carbs and other nutrients, which make them a complete meal. "I literally show them [clients] the facts, break down food individually and talk about nutrition by using techniques I use to teach children," Soto explains. She further elaborates and says, "I use fun tips and analogies that help translate science into easy ways to understand because people just want to understand how food works in the body, and that alone can make a huge difference."
As for mainstream nutrition appropriating Latinx traditional foods, she says it's part of their tactic to make a profit. "The wellness world picks and chooses what they want to promote as exotic or a superfood, like chia and quinoa, and clings to them to sell them more expensive and as a cure for all or magic answer to health," she explains, concluding that it's simply another form of gentrification.
Where to follow her: @your.latina.nutritionist