Politics & Policy

Florida Threatens to Throw Woman in the Slammer for Giving Unlicensed Diet Tips

Heather Kokesch (Photo: Institute for Justice)
Government doesn’t get much more intrusive than this.

A woman in Florida is being threatened with jail time for allowing people to pay her to give them nutritional advice — and that’s very, very dumb.

To clarify, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo is actually not tying people up in her basement and forcing them to listen to her diet tips at gunpoint in exchange for cash. No, these people want her tips, and they choose to pay her for them. It’s a completely voluntary, mutually agreed-upon arrangement, and yet Florida still somehow feels the need to intervene: The state has fined her more than $750 for being an “unlicensed dietician” and has warned her that she will face fines of $1,000 per incident and possibly a year in jail if she continues.

According to a piece in Reason, Del Castillo got busted because a licensed dietician looking to take down competition tattled on her, prompting a Florida Department of Health investigator to go undercover as someone who wanted Del Castillo’s fitness advice.

After finding herself in this ridiculous predicament, Del Castillo went to the lawyers at the Institute for Justice for help. According to her lawsuit, Del Castillo did not ever even claim to be a licensed dietician — all she did was respond to an undercover dieter with information about health-coaching services, and that was apparently enough to get her in this kind of trouble.

This is absurd for so many reasons. On the most basic level: If people want to pay other people for something that isn’t going to hurt anyone else, then they should be allowed to do so. Second of all, there are plenty of licensed dieticians out there who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. How do I know this? Well, because many of them say different — often, even opposite — things, and they can’t all be telling the truth. Think about it: A huge group of them will tell you to choose whole-wheat options, and another huge group of them will tell you that gluten is the devil. Many of them recommend a diet high in lean-meat protein; many others say that meats of all kinds are bad for you. Some are right and some are wrong, meaning that there are some people whom Florida is allowing to give other people wrong nutritional advice without penalty, just because they are technically “licensed” to do so.

By the way, I have absolutely no idea what the “right” nutritional answers are. Personally, I go with something called the Happiness Diet; I eat what makes me happy, and that can mean different things at different times. This morning, I wasn’t feeling like caring about my body very much, so I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. I liked it; it was delicious, and the fact that it was delicious made me happy. Other mornings, I’ll look at too many #FitFam Instagram accounts, and then I’ll go with fresh fruit because the shame of a bagel after seeing all of those acai bowls and abs would just be too much for me to deal with. I’ll feel healthy, and that makes me happy. It just depends on how I feel and what I want, and I’d recommend this lifestyle to anyone who’s listening.

But maybe I shouldn’t have said that. After all, I’m writing this article for my job, meaning that I am technically being paid for what I just said, so I might have to go to jail for saying it. Or, or, the government could just chill out about this kind of stuff and focus on more important things.


How the Feds Could Reform Crazy State Licensing Laws

Occupational Licensing Reform Will Improve Upward Mobility

The Health-Care Villains Nobody Wants to Talk About

Most Popular


White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The White Ghetto

Editor's Note: In celebration of Kevin D. Williamson’s newest book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, National Review is republishing some of our favorites of his from the past ten years. This article originally appeared in the December 16, 2013, issue of National ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More