If you’ve never consulted a registered dietitian or nutritionist, anytime is a good time. They can help people at every stage of life: women who are trying to become pregnant or are new nursing mothers. They can assist children with allergies and teens with eating disorders. They can provide guidance for adults who are pre-Diabetic, have high blood pressure or have had gastric bypass surgery. They can even help geriatric patients. Even if you consider yourself healthy and young, a nutritionist could help you sort through confusing health information and create nutritious meal plans for your family. Here are few other reasons to book an appointment and advice on how to do it.
Check qualifications: While professionals use the terms Registered Dietitian (RD) and the newer term Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) interchangeably, it’s important you hire someone with certification. RD or RDN means a person has completed education and training established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. They have passed a four-year degree specializing in nutrition, and a rigorous registration exam. They also maintain continuing education in their fields. More than half of them hold graduate degrees with specialty certifications in areas such as sports, pediatric, renal, oncology or gerontological nutrition. The RDN distinction evolved because all registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. In some states you can use the nutritionist title without training, but it’s illegal to call yourself a dietitian without form training and certifications.
Finding a Dietitian: Your primary care doctor can refer a dietitian to work with you. If your health insurance pays for a meeting, try to find one in your network. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org) is another good source to find one near you. If you’re not able to leave home, inquire about virtual consultations when you find one that meets your needs.
Services a nutritionist might provide: With all the free dietary information and healthy recipes available online, one might ask why would I need to consult with a nutritionist? Nutritionist study and understand how food interacts with our body processes. They stay up to date on the latest research and are the best suited person to give you advice tailed specifically for your issues. If you’re a professional athlete and want to improve your overall fitness, a good dietitian might help you design a menu that will help you during your training and recovery. If you were just diagnosed with high cholesterol and don’t want to take drugs to lower it, an RDN could potentially help you do entirely by changing your diet and exercise routine. They can also flag serious conditions (loss of appetite could be the sign of a serious thyroid problem) and refer you to a doctor. Even if you’re a busy mom looking for a kid-friendly diet, a nutritionist can help you with that, too.
Telenutrition & Apps: There are also many online Telenutrition options available. For instance, OnPoint Nutrition is one such service that offers entirely online and personalized nutrition and weight loss coaching through a team of certified nutritionists and registered dietitians. It uses a health app to provide its patients with real-time tracking to help them monitor things such as meal and snack choices, food group servings, fluid intake, sleep habits, activity level, indulgences, weekly and monthly goals and weight and body fat percentage. There also are numerous free and low-cost apps that will work with your iPhone and Apple Watch to help you monitor what you eat, when you eat, portion sizes and exercise. For instance, the free app Fooducate allows you scan bar codes on foods so you can pull up nutritional information instantly and make sense of it. Lifesum is another app that allows you to pick an exercise plan and then record exercise, and fluid and food intake via bar codes. The app then gives you feedback as to how you can stay on track to achieve your goals.
What will be required of you before your first meeting?
Most dietitians will ask people to a document their health history, specifically a recent food diary, along with a series of questions designed to help them diagnose your issues. They’ll want to know if you’re suffering from any symptoms, your family history, lifestyle, level of exercise and general state of health.
So, whatever your reason to embark on a healthier lifestyle, there’s no time like the present to start. Schedule an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist to help you chart your course.