I think there is a lot of confusion on what a dietitian/nutritionist can do. You might think all we do is give out meal plans and tell you to stop eating certain foods and therefore make your life miserable.
We have a bad reputation of being strict and boring professionals. And with all the information we can find online about food and health, it is sometimes difficult to encourage you to meet with a dietitian. But nutrition is so much more telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat! We teach you how to enjoy foods without feeling guilty, to eat enough without being too full, to find out which foods make you feel good and how to be mindful in day-to-day activities.
So, because of all the confusion on what we actually do, I made a list of 4 major things to expect when you meet with a nutritionist.
1. We do not have a miracle weight loss cure.
We won’t tell you to go on a cleanse, detox, or on a new fad diet; they simply don’t work. There is not one food that will make you lose 10 pounds in a month. We will tell you to eat real food in real quantities. We may even tell you to eat some junk food and continue to enjoy your glass of wine food once in a while 🙂 Whether trying to lose or gain weight or include beneficial foods in your diet, change is gradual and will take time; it can take several weeks, months, or even years. Be patient, as we are creating new habits that you will keep for the rest of your life. We are here to teach and give you the tools to live a healthier lifestyle, not to force you to do something to get crazy results in 1 month.
2. Nutrition to us is a lot more than a number on the scale.
Yes, we want you to be at a healthy weight, but adopting a healthy lifestyle without the immediate effects on the scale are just as important to us. Someone may not be at their ideal weight, but their healthy eating habits alone (especially if the diet is high in fruits and vegetables, includes healthy fats and limits processed foods) can decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions. So don’t get mad at us if we don’t put that much emphasis on the numbers, we want you to be healthy, not skinny!
3. We may not even talk about nutrition.
We know there is a lot more to weight issues than the food itself. This is why we often ask and discuss (with your permission) things like stress, work, family life and relationships. All of these things are related to weight. Weight gain is often a symptom of something else that is not balanced in your life. Although we are well aware that we are not psychology professionals, sometimes just talking about it to us out loud can help. So don’t feel weird because we didn’t mention anything about food during our session, sometimes our problems have nothing to do with that.
4. You will have homework to do.
We know changing eating habits is tough, that’s why we are here to help. When we meet, we will give you specific and realistic goals to attain; you may have to keep a food journal, fill out a checklist, challenge your negative thoughts or try a new food item, but you will have something to do. If the homework isn’t done or the results didn’t go as planned, do not see this as a failure. Things happen and sometimes get in the way, that’s life, but not a reason to quit. We won’t judge, just like we don’t judge your eating habits. We won’t be disappointed either, but you do have to be accountable for your actions. Our goal is to see you reach your goal, so if we are not getting where we want we will readjust and try again.
I hope you realize that we are not scary, boring or mean professionals. We’re here to help and guide you through your journey, whatever that may be.
Happy Nutrition Month!