For many years now, I have been coaching and counseling individuals on health and nutrition. Whether it's medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for diabetes, cardiac, cancer or metabolic disease, to help your family plan and eat healthier, or you would like to develop better habits for longevity over time, I began to realize that many people have preconceived ideas about what one on one counseling will be like.
It’s easy to understand the trepidation some have about visiting a dietitian. They may have heard that they recommend everyone become vegan or have had a bad experience in a health care setting. Because there’s only about 1 Registered Dietitian for every 5000 people in the United States, not many people have had the opportunity to learn what a dietitian does. Yes, they may have only seen an RD in a hospital setting and have never seen an RD in private practice or one on one.
Now that I am beginning to do more individual and group instruction, there are a few things I would like people to know before we get started. Hopefully, this will help to understand a bit more about what a dietitian does and doesn't do while trying to help each person, couple, or family. Additionally, I like to always keep a sense of humor with my clients. We’re all trying our best so why not have a little fun and relax.
1) As a dietitian, I am not the food police, and I'm not going to shame or embarrass you for your food or meal choices. After all, I am a mother of five with two grandchildren and a husband. I know what it’s like to be busy and not have a meal planned. I get it. You’re trying your best to eat healthfully but not always sure how to put together a tasty meal daily. Don’t worry, there are thousands of people just like you and my job is to help, not condemn.
2) I’m going to do more listening than talking. I want to understand your needs fully. Food is a very personal thing for people and so is health and especially weight concerns. I’m sensitive to these feelings and how it affects the relationships around you. The objective is to have goals and a plan to get you there. Longevity is key. We want to make small changes that are sustainable for long term health. Dietitians create individual plans based on your lifestyle, work schedule, exercise regimen and meal times as well as sleep-wake cycles. Many factors are considered when we discuss the best plan of action for your healthy lifestyle.
3) I understand you’re on a budget. However, I want my clients to understand that eating healthfully doesn’t have to be expensive. I will work with you and teach you how to get the most from your food dollars.
4) Our goal won’t be a number on a scale. Sure, if weight loss is something you would like to see, I’m going to try to help you do that but that won’t be our primary focus. If that were the case, I could send you on your way with the latest fad diet or ridiculous detox regimen. The goal is better health, better sleep, stress reduction, more energy and helping to fight disease through a healthy diet. If weight loss is the result, then great! If you develop a healthy habit and you stick with it, that’s even better.
5) I will most likely tell you what to add to your diet instead of telling you what to take away unless you have a health condition that prohibits certain foods. Other than allergies or specified health conditions, there is no good reason to avoid whole foods or food groups. That type of thing will eventually backfire, trust me, I’ve seen it. I won’t endorse any detox or elimination diet. I have seen the harm that this can do, such as hair loss, weight loss, and malnutrition.
6) I’m going to encourage you to try new foods, especially plant foods. Variety is part of a highly nutritious diet. Many people have never been exposed to certain foods, especially vegetables, beans, and seeds, and they need a little inspiration with a delicious and simple recipe.