March is National Nutrition Month! With a different theme every year, us dietitians take this opportunity to educate you and give you resources on that topic (check it out here).
Now, not everyone sees the use in working with a dietitian (which is fine), but unfortunately those who could benefit from one are lured towards more appealing programs, online “health coaches”, naturopaths, or weight loss supplements. I mean, what sounds better and easier: “stop eating this food and lose 10 lbs in a month” or “sorry, there’s no weight loss secret. You can eat things you love, but in moderation, and lose 10 lbs in 3 months”. Dietitians may not seem as exciting (and that’s our fault). Some would even say dietitians aren’t sexy (read the rebuttal here).
Still, I think it’s important to look at the difference between using the internet (or health coach or other non-RD program) and a dietitian:
We know what we’re talking about
Well, this one is self-explanatory. Dietitians all have a university degree and have completed internships. We are part of a professional order and have to keep our knowledge up to date with continuing education. Would you go see a dentist that got their degree from a 20-hour weekend certification program or one that did their 5 year university program complete with internships? So why would you do the same when it comes to what goes in to your body every single day, the food you need to live, the cause and cure to many diseases?
Most diets out there focus on what to eat, not how to eat
Most of the diets you’ll find in the internet or offered by non-RD programs focus on the foods themselves. For many people, the issue isn’t the foods they’re eating, but their relationship with food and/or their body. So instead of changing your food, look at why you are eating right now – is it stress, boredom, sadness, etc. It often goes beyond food.
As dietitians, we want to find what works best for you. Not everyone will get the same meal plan or advice as everyone’s needs and lifestyle are different. Even if 2 people need a 1500 calorie diet, they will still be different to suit their preferences. We know there is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition, so we offer you lots of choices!
You can definitely argue that your health coach makes you accountable for your actions, but will online information do that?
We’re covered by many private insurance companies
Health should be an investment and our eating habits are a big part of our overall health. Avoid having to use costly medications or procedures and prevent these conditions with food! So go over your private insurance coverage and see if dietitian is on the list!
Not all dietitians are the same, and neither are clients.Some want a structured plan, some want tips & tricks, and others just need simple goals to work on. Be clear about what you are looking for and what normally works best for you.
Work with a dietitian you like.
Where to find a dietitian:
Ordre professionel des diététistes du Québec
Great article highlighting the difference that RD’s can make and the higher level of training plus all the continuing education we have to get. You are right, most of the time it’s not necessarily what people eat but why they eat!
I’m glad you agree Sylvia!