Food food food. Everyone is always talking about food…what to eat, what to never eat. Our relationships with food can be quite complex. And the relationship between how healthy we feel and the food we are eating (or not eating) can be equally as complex.
If you are feeling like food or your health is a yucky and loaded topic then working with a nutritionist could be just the thing to help lighten the load and make food a great part of life again.
Our in-house expert, Licensed Nutritionist, Susie, tells all:
#1 What does a nutritionist do?
The role of the nutritionist is to educate and assess. I spend a lot of time educating clients during appointments. Whether it be how much water to drink, or what trans fats are and why they should be avoided, education is one of the most important things a nutritionist does. Another thing that we do is to assess your nutrient status and nutritional needs. We take into account your health history and medical diagnoses from a doctor, and we also want to know about your physical activity levels, lifestyle, and stress. Based on all of this information, a nutritionist will then provide individualized diet and lifestyle recommendations to address nutritional needs as well as address any existing lifestyle habits/practices that are not serving you or are hindering progress to feeling your best.
#2 What’s the difference between a dietician & nutritionist?
That’s a tough question and it’s really hard to answer because it is very subjective. In general, the major differences are the credentialing boards, rules for practice (which vary from state to state), and sometimes education level and post education experience. When deciding whether to work with a nutritionist or dietician it’s important to look for a practitioner that will not just look at your diet and calories but someone who will look at you as an individual person with individual experiences in order to assist you with your nutrition goals.
#3 Why does what I eat matter?
Food is energy and food is fuel. The body is made of cells that require nutrients to function optimally. Also, there are many different pathways running in our body at all times; these pathways create energy, filter toxins, and determine what needs to be absorbed in the body and what needs to be excreted, and the list goes on. We require nutrients in order for these pathways to run. We must eat a nutrient dense diet in order to get all the materials we need to help our cells function and our pathways run. We need protein, carbohydrates (from whole grains and vegetables), healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. When we eat these foods and add varied colors of fruits and vegetables we will also get necessary antioxidants and plant nutrients that protect the body from illnesses and promote health.
#4 Is seeing a nutritionist safe?
Yes seeing a nutritionist is very safe. However, it is important that you disclose all health and medical information to your nutritionist, including medications and medication changes, supplements, medical diagnoses from your doctor, and all symptoms.
#5 Do you believe in diets: like gluten-free? Paleo? Mediterranean? Atkins? And stuff like that?
I always have a really hard time answering this question and it’s a very personal question. When I ask about your diet I’m concerned with what you eat and what you do not eat. I’m then concerned with why. For example- if you say I don’t eat eggs I want to know why. Are you allergic? Are you vegan? Understanding what you eat, what you do not eat, and why you eat what you eat provides me with a wealth of knowledge about you. Then, I need to know is that diet working for you? Is it helping you achieve your goals? For example, person A may be thriving as a vegan and person B may not be thriving. There is no one “diet” for everyone. But everyone can benefit from the wise words of Michael Pollen, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” In summary, then the universal rule would be eat real food (whole foods), don’t over eat, and eat a lot of vegetables. Now, to get back to your question, there are many diets, so many it can be overwhelming. Some diets are sound and nutritious and some diets are fad diets and lacking nutrients. So, do I believe in these diets? Some of them and some of the time. At the end of the day it’s about finding the right diet for you.
#6 What will my appointments be like? How often will I work with you and how quickly will I notice a difference?
The first appointment will last for 90 minutes. During this time we’ll discuss your concerns and goals, go through your completed intake form, discuss your diet, and I’ll perform a brief physical assessment. I will assess your nutrient status and symptoms and you will leave the appointment with recommendations that we will collaborate on together, based on my assessment and your goals/concerns. The recommendations may include, but are not limited to, any of the following: diet modification, lifestyle modification, supplementation through whole foods or whole foods based supplements, mindful eating, and/or referrals for other complimentary therapies. Follow-up appointments are 60 minutes. At the follow-ups we will review the previous recommendations and determine what is working and what is not working, and we’ll review your symptoms and see if there are any changes, and discuss any new concerns/goals. At the end of each follow-up you will receive recommendations. We’ll determine together how often you should come in based on your goals and your financial availability. How quickly you notice a difference will be based on putting the recommendations into place.
#7 Why should I work with a nutritionist? What can you help me with that I may not realize?
Working with a nutritionist can be beneficial if you experience any of the following:
- Lack of energy/low energy
- Burping, belching, bloating, gas
- Heart burn
- Doctor’s diagnosis of: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, allergies, eczema, anxiety
- Problems sleeping
#8 What can I expect to change from working with you?
The relationship between a nutritionist and a client is very collaborative. The changes that are experienced are going to vary from person to person and will depend on how you put the recommendations into practice and modify your daily habits. Some changes you may experience may include: better sleep, improved energy levels, less inflammation, less digestive symptoms (burping, bloating, and gas), and weight loss.
#9 Dieting is hard for me, how will this be different than what I do on my own?
When I hear the word “dieting” I always think “restriction” and it has a negative connotation to me. I like to focus less on the idea of “dieting” and more on the idea of building healthy habits. Every situation is going to be different and I like to start by adding more in at first (like more vegetables or water) and then potentially removing those foods or food items from the diet that are not serving you, and these items will vary from person to person. Although this may still seem restrictive, this will contribute to feeling better and building healthier habits.
#10 I hate taking pills and stuff- I don’t want to be on a million vitamins, can you still help me?
Yes! Not all nutritionists recommend supplements. Through our appointment I’ll assess whether there are any nutrient deficiencies in the diet. I personally like to start by recommending supplementation through the diet, meaning eating foods that are high in the nutrients you may be deficient in. If you dislike or are unable to eat the foods that contain the nutrients you need I may recommend a supplement at that time. Also, depending on what you are experiencing there are some supplements that may be beneficial in the short term to assist with digestive issues. However, my goal is to only recommend supplementation with pills for short terms use, if any at all, and there may be circumstances where long term supplementation is advisable. However, if there is one supplement I tend to recommend to everyone it is a probiotic because it is good for our digestion, our immune system, and many individuals are not consuming fermented food on a regular basis.