Why use a Dietitian for Nutrition Counseling

Are you wondering why you should use a Dietitian for Nutrition Counseling? With ever changing and often contradictory nutrition information, it can be really difficult to figure out what advice is true and furthermore, what program is right for YOU. Fortunately, meeting with a Registered Dietitian (RD) can help you cut through the clutter. An RD can work with you to create an evidence-based, individualized plan to help you meet your personal health goals.

What is a dietitian?

According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, dietitians – also known as Registered Dietitians – are the recognized experts within the field. They must meet the education and training requirements set by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). This includes a minimum bachelor’s degree in a relevant course of study, as well as completing more than 1,000 practice hours. These criteria must be met prior to taking the license exam.

Once licensed, dietitians can work in a wide variety of settings. For example, a dietitian can work in a clinical setting, public health, sports nutrition, food-related businesses, scientific research, and nutrition counseling within a private practice.

Dietitians are reevaluated every five years. During that time, they must complete a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education. This ensures they stay up to date on the latest research and practice methods.

You may have heard the term “dietitian” and “nutritionist” used interchangeably; however, these terms are not the same. For example, a “nutritionist” can be anybody who provides dietary advice. In fact, they do not need to meet any specific education, training or licensing criteria. For more information on the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist, check out this article.

What is nutrition counseling?

Nutrition counseling involves working with a Registered Dietitian (RD), usually on a 1:1 basis. The goal is to develop an individualized plan. This plan is based on medical history, any current health conditions, dietary needs, and overall lifestyle. Together, the RD and the client set goals that will meet the client’s needs and improve their overall health.

At Anderson’s Nutrition, we understand that every person has a different life and a different body. For this reason we do not take a “one size fits all” approach with our clients. Each session is tailored to meet the physical and emotional needs of the individual. We also factor in strengths and challenges, willingness to change, and overall goals.

During a nutrition counseling session, our dietitians take the time to review medical history, symptoms, current medications, and typical eating patterns. We also explore other lifestyle factors, specifically using the four pillars of wellness.

The Four Pillars of Wellness

What is a typical day of eating for you? Which foods do you like or dislike? Do you have allergies or intolerances? How has your relationship with food evolved over the years?

Do you have a favorite form of movement? Does movement intimidate you? If so, how can we make it less scary? How about your relationship with exercise? Do you move as a way to care for your body or solely to change your body?

How many hours are you sleeping a night? Do you feel you are getting good quality sleep? What factors impact your sleep patterns? What steps can we take to make it better?

How would you rate your stress level? What factors bring added stress to your life? What forms of self care do you carry out to relieve your stress? How does stress impact your health and quality of life?

Nutrition Education vs. Nutrition Counseling

What is nutrition education?

Nutrition education refers to general nutrition information delivered to an individual or group. It can be used to teach general health-related topics, or topics that pertain to a specific health concern or condition. An RD shares information based on their education and expertise, using evidence-based nutrition research and guidance.

Some examples include teaching a new celiac patient how to reduce the risk of gluten exposure; or teaching a newly-diagnosed diabetic how to count carbs.

Nutrition education does not take into account an individual’s lifestyle choices, preferences, or challenges. It is therefore considered more of a one-way communication tool. However, a dietitian will often use nutrition education as a tool within a nutrition counseling session.

What is nutrition counseling?

Nutrition counseling is a more interactive, two-way approach. It involves creating an plan tailored to a client’s specific needs.

Nutrition counseling from a dietitian focuses on a wide variety of areas that impact health and ability to change behaviors. Of course, a dietitian will factor in age, gender, height and weight, medical history etc. They will also consider other factors. These include one’s daily schedule and responsibilities; cultural background and traditions; socioeconomic status and food accessibility; and differing cognitive and physical abilities.

Nutrition counseling involves establishing specific goals while providing guidance and strategies to promote behavior change. Click here to learn more about goal setting.

What are the benefits of nutrition counseling?

Research has found that nutrition counseling can improve one’s physical AND emotional health. It can also enhance a person’s overall ability to navigate their health journey. Check out the list below to see the various ways that nutrition counseling could benefit you!

1. It’s All About YOU!

Nutrition counseling takes a client-centered approach. Your Registered Dietitian will create a custom plan that is based on YOUR needs, preferences, lifestyle, and goals.

2. Disease Prevention and Management

A dietitian can help identify any potential risks for the development of various conditions and diseases. These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few. An RD can suggest realistic lifestyle changes that reduce your risk.

If you have already developed a disease or condition, your RD can guide you on best practices to manage your symptoms. Dependent on the condition or disease state, you may even be able to reverse the condition through nutrition counseling.

Some of our Special Programs

Whether you are seeking to lower your cholesterol, or you have a family history of heart disease, an RD can help you reduce your risk. Learn about different nutrients and supplements, and the (realistic) lifestyle modifications best suited to your condition. Together, you and your dietitian will work on specific goals. Your RD will also closely monitor lab values. Our clients have seen significant improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure levels!

Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes? It can be hard learning to live with this condition. Your RD can walk you through dietary and lifestyle changes, so you can feel more confident managing your blood sugar. Our dietitians have helped clients reduce their A1C and blood sugar levels, and even helped clients get off diabetes medications!

Tired of dieting and not seeing results? Your RD will review previous weight loss strategies, to learn what has and has not worked for you. Your RD will then create a plan that meets your specific needs. We utilize a non-diet approach to create long-term results. We also offer a meal planning service that can be tailored to certain health conditions, allergies, or food preferences.

3. Feel Better Overall

While nutrition counseling can help prevent and treat illness, it can also improve various factors that impact daily life. These include better energy levels, concentration, mood, self esteem, and sleep quality, and reduced aches and pains.

4. Get Your Own Personal Cheerleader!

It is our job to support you! We know that your relationship with food, your body and your health is a personal one, and we do not take that lightly. Our goal is to not only guide you, but also to encourage and motivate you through this exciting (and at times difficult) journey!

Our clients tell us that the support factor has a major impact, and helps create behavior changes in a way that feels powerful and up lifting. One of our clients stated “I always feel so empowered and validated after talking with my dietitian. It’s starting to give me hope that after 40 years of being overweight, I can lose weight in a happy, joyful, healthy way.

Who should have nutrition counseling?

Nutrition counseling can benefit nearly everyone! In fact, it is helpful for anyone who wants to improve their quality of life by learning healthy new habits. RDs can especially help people at risk for dealing with certain conditions, or anyone who feels confused on how to nourish their body to achieve optimal health. Anderson’s Nutrition treats anyone, from infants to elderly individuals, who could benefit from a custom plan that yields maximum health.

To learn more about the services provided by Anderson’s Nutrition, click here.