When to meet with a Dietitian
So you've been thinking about your weight. Perhaps your clothes are fitting tighter. Maybe you recently saw yourself in a picture and noticed that you have put on weight, or maybe you went to the doctor and were told that losing a few pounds would improve your blood pressure, your diabetes, your cholesterol, or even your chances of getting pregnant.
Sure you can Google "how to [lower my blood pressure, lose weight, etc.]" or pick up the latest health & wellness magazine or even follow someone on social media who appears to be healthy in hopes of attaining similar results for yourself--but you could also reach out to a food and nutrition expert--a registered dietitian. But when should you really do so and what can you expect from your visit with a dietitian?
What is an Registered Dietitian?
First- let's clarify the difference between a Registered Dietitian and any other title. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 70,000 dietitians in the country. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, school systems, dialysis units, doctor's offices, colleges, with sports teams, and in private practice just to name a few (on a side note, Katherine Tom MS, RDN, LD, CDE has experience in all of these areas). They have 4 year degrees and have completed a supervised internship before sitting for an examination. Next, they stay current through obtaining continuing education in the years after they pass and earn the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential to maintain it.
What does any other title claiming to be a food expert mean? The answer to that question is that it runs the gamut, but arguably, it is unmatched by the rigor of the background of an RDN.
When should you consider meeting with an RDN?
1. If your doctor has told you that you have a medical condition directly or indirectly influenced by what you eat (ex: blood pressure, cholesterol, reflux, stomach ulcers, chronic constipation, diabetes, weight gain/loss, the list goes on...) then you should ask him/her for a referral for medical nutrition therapy to see a Registered Dietitian. Think of it as an evidenced-based prescription to putting a customized plan together for you.
2. If you're super confused by what you've seen on the television, heard from your friends or family about food, have no experience in selecting foods that are healthy for you, or don't really know what "healthy" means as it relates to your individual body--then you should consider meeting with a dietitian.
3. If you're gaining or losing weight and you're post-menopausal, pre-menopausal, adolescent, busy and "on the go", "otherwise healthy", a weekend workout warrior or an avid athlete, an RDN is poised to help translate what research results "work" into real life habits, foods and techniques that you can start doing today in order to help you. He/she will use evidenced based and systematic approaches with food that relate to your life stage and your lifestyle to meet your health goals.
4. If you have no experience cooking, don't want to cook, can't cook, don't grocery shop, are on a budget or eat out in restaurants every day, then an RDN can partner with you to expand your culinary skill set (if you so desire) or partner with you to come up with a plan that will work for your unique situation.
5. If you've tried to meet your health goals on your own and are stuck--if you're not getting the results that you're seeking and you just need help, then yes, reaching out to a qualified RDN for help may be a good idea.
What can you expect from a visit with a dietitian?
If you're meeting with a North Texas Nutrition Associates dietitian, you're going to be treated with respect, empathy and be in the driver seat of your own care. You're going to partner with an expert to come up with a plan that works for you. You're going to talk a lot about food during your meeting--what you like, when you like to eat it, who you like to eat with--so the way to enter that conversation is with an open mind--rest assured that no judgement is being made! All of the details that you provide about your habits add to the richness of the action plan that together, you will be making during the visit.
To inquire about setting up a virtual appointment with a dietitian at North Texas Nutrition Associates, email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to tell if nutrition advice is bogus?
This is a popular question! If you read, hear or see advice like what we're listing below, stop! It might be untrue and you need to pause and take your time figuring out if it is "for real":
-Promises of fast, quick and overnight fixes (some companies and products prey on vulnerable populations, like folks who have tried extremely hard to lose weight and are stuck, folks who are sleep deprived and chronically tired and just want more energy as well as young adults seeking to be faster, stronger and leaner)
-Products or people who ask you to buy only their own products in order to achieve your desired health results (think supplements, meal replacements, bars or shakes) There are a multitude of ways to "skin a cat", so to speak, so ask your doctor or trusted health professional about any particular product or person you are thinking about using to meet your goals. Chances are, if its a legit solution, it comes in generic forms and you may be able to achieve the same result with more cost effective alternative.
-"Cures" through food or supplements. Healthcare is evolving. Research is constantly being challenged by new ideas. Research results typically "suggest" the impact of manipulating any particular part of a person's diet may achieve a desired health outcome. Just be cautious when you read the word, "cure".
- Advice that worked for one person translated as a generalized recommendation--for example, a statement such as "I lost 55lbs. eating only grapefruit and drinking celery juice for 2 months and you should too" is an example of how one person found success and translated that action as a generalized recommendation to the public. Good research is repeatable and when its repeatable, its published in highly regarded medical journals (what your NTNA dietitian is reading). Keep that in mind. One person's success, especially with food is not an apples to apples comparison with their neighbor. Every body is different and therefore, every person's nutrition plan should be individualized.
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