Should You See a Dietitian?

We know what foods we like and dislike; what’s good and bad for us. We understand basic nutrition, like salads are healthy and pizza is unhealthy; our bad habits we’re not planning on giving up and the healthful habits that make us happy.

And with the start of the New Year comes a healthy dose of reflection, usually accompanied by a weight loss goal or at least some type of health-related resolution. All too often, resolutions err on the extreme side of the spectrum. We aim to hit the gym every day, lose that extra 15 pounds, or stop eating sugar. But have you ever considered visiting to your local dietitian’s office?

Personally, I’ve always felt that I don’t need help-I can feed myself without someone else’s help or opinion, thankyouverymuch. But with wellness trending, it’s almost puzzling that bragging about checking in with our dietitian isn’t more commonplace.

The truth is, seeing a dietitian is something we should all be doing. To find out why, I visited Adiana Castro, R.D.N., owner of New York-based Compass Nutrition. It was eye-opening-and a visit could be just the right experience to kick off your new year.

First, there’s no shame in visiting a dietitian. Asking for advice from someone trained in the science of how food affects our brains and bodies should be required-no matter your eating habits. I went in for a general wellness appointment and couldn’t wait to get my ever-growing list of questions answered, but you can make an apppointment for a variety of reasons. Most offices can help test and counsel you through a suspected food allergy, metabolism testing, and weight loss plans too. (Here’s what to know before you go.)

As expected, Castro asked general questions about my eating habits-what I struggle with, what I usually eat in a day or week. Most of us are aware enough of what we’re doing wrong that identifying the issues we need to fix is easy. For example, I know I don’t consume enough protein and have higher than normal cholesterol levels, so that was a large focus of our meeting. Before my visit, I would proudly state I would never give up my Splenda habit. I walked out of Castro’s office sure that by the end of January, I will have completely phased the fake sugar out of my diet.

I spent a lot of my time with Castro beginning questions with “So I’ve heard…” We hear and read a lot of things from friends and trusted sources, but the issue is that none of the facts or suggestions presented to us are personalized for our bodies, lifestyle, fitness routine, or personal preferences. Going into the appointment, I was most nervous about being ostracized for the things I was doing wrong and being given instructions or suggestions that would be hard to implement into my daily life.

Boy, was I wrong.

I felt like I was in a nutrition class, and I was the only student. I got to ask all of my burning questions, and it was cool to have a professional explain why my bad habits are bad and what my actions, like going too many hours without eating (blame it on a busy schedule) and skimping on water, does to my brain, body, and energy levels. The focus was on feeling better and making tiny, very doable tweaks. It was never just, “Don’t do this, it’s bad,” but more, “If you do this instead of that your body will respond like this instead, which will be better for XYZ organ and your health in the long run.”

New goal: Make my organs very healthy and happy in 2016.

The best part? I left with a packet of Castro-approved grab-and-go bars, ideal lunches from chains located in NYC, ideal post-workout breakfasts and snacks, and more information on nutrients and appropriate portions for certain foods. It was like receiving my own little guide to eating the tastiest and healthiest food. Walking out of Castro’s office, I genuinely felt reassured, even enlightened. It’s empowering to have more tools and knowledge that can enable me to make the healthiest choices for me. There were no daunting tasks laid out before me, but instead small tweaks that can with some mindfulness, easily be achieved. (Try these 12 Tiny Expert-Backed Changes for Your Diet.) And not even for weight loss-but for more energy, strength, and overall wellbeing and health.

Castro’s patients visit on average three times over the course of a few months for a general wellness consultation. More intense weight-loss programs require more visits, which are being covered by insurance at an increasing rate. If you start looking for a dieitian to visit, make sure to look for the R.D.N. ( a registered dietitian nutritionist) in their title. Nutritionists are not regulated, and while they still have valuable advice to offer, the two titles are not interchangeable.

Multiple times through my session, Castro reminded me that we should all be “working with our body, not against it.” Which further proves that booking an initial appointment is one of the most positive moves you can make this year. It’s not about seeking perfection, but getting personalized advice from a trained professional and providing yourself with the tools to live your healthiest life.

Think about it this way: An appointment is only an hour. If you’re investing an hour at the gym a few times a week or watching an hour of TV every night, you can definitely make time for a visit to the dietitian. (P.S. Have you tried a food journal yet? Here’s how to start-and stick with it!)

  • By Alyssa Clough

Even as a registered dietitian, it’s quite the challenge to keep up with healthy eating trends and newest diets on the block. There’s always a new one right around the corner that promises to solve all of our problems. Most of these diets focus on restricting certain foods (or entire food groups) as a way to lose weight, improve your health, and make you “feel your best.” Sound familiar? These diet-related claims are literally everywhere. Cut this food out, eat at these specific times, take these supplements, and you’ll be on your way to eternity. Sounds pretty promising, right?

Except that it isn’t. Restrictive diets for weight loss tend to not work—many, if not most, people who lose the weight, gain it back. Then they try dieting again. Yo-yo dieting leads to weight cycling, which may contribute to chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. In other words, dieting probably isn’t great for your health, physical or mental.

In my experience working with clients, restrictive dieting also leads to stress, increased risk for disordered eating, and feelings of poor willpower when the dieting goals are not met. This makes sense: When my clients deprive themselves of foods they really want to eat, they end up craving those foods even more. As a result, they tend to “cheat” and overeat those “off-limit” foods. Ultimately, these feelings of poor willpower and failure may make it even harder to develop a healthy and happy relationship to food. There’s even been research supporting the idea that people feel better and are actually healthier when they shift their focus to body acceptance versus weight loss.

Now, it’s important to note that there is a difference between restrictive dieting and medically indicated diets. If someone has celiac disease, then I would definitely recommend the elimination of gluten. The same goes for allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances to certain foods. For otherwise healthy people, I see restriction as unnecessary. It takes away from the joy of eating, and the truth of the matter is that all of these “off-limit” foods could very well be incorporated in a balanced way.

This leads me to my next point. For me, living my best life means living and eating without restriction and dieting, while making sure I feel good physically and emotionally. But this kind of attitude towards food and eating doesn’t just come to you once you become an R.D. I had to put a lot of effort into this balanced relationship I have with food and eating. It took work. Now that I’m here, there are three simple principles I keep in mind at all times to help me do just that.

And make no mistake…this is not an easy and straightforward process. It has taken me years to learn about what works best for my body. I remember cutting out cheese from my diet, in the name of “good health,” knowing very well that I absolutely love cheese. I would tell myself “no cheese,” and then find myself sneaking into the fridge at night eating blocks of cheese (no lie). Through lots of experimentation, I have learned that restriction has always yielded disastrous results for me. In trying to control my food choices, I ultimately end up feeling more out of control. Cheese and other pleasurable foods now have a delicious and balanced place on my plate, sans the guilt and stress.

1. I don’t consider any food off-limits.

I don’t like to label any food off-limits. Instead, I allow room for foods that bring me satisfaction and pleasure. This can take the form of a kale salad, just like it can take the form of a cupcake. Am I going to have cupcakes every day for breakfast? Probably not. And that’s because if I were to have cupcakes for breakfast every day, I would probably get an energy crash a few hours later. However, if I have a more balanced and satiating breakfast (my go-to is a vegetable-and-egg scramble with avocado toast), and enjoyed the cupcake in between meals, my energy would likely be more stable and I would appreciate that cupcake so much more. Does this mean you should have cupcakes everyday? It depends. There isn’t a one-size fits all answer, and it’s important to assess how you feel. I have found that when clients stop focusing on restricting “bad” foods, and instead incorporate them in a balanced way, they don’t even want those foods as much. The allure tends to die down, and it’s seen as just another food on your list of options. It’s all about striking a balance between nutrition and pleasure. I have found that paying attention to how I feel when eating, really helps to inform my eating choices.

Here’s a good first step to take:

Identify one food you absolutely love, but have written off as bad or unhealthy. Think about three ways you could incorporate that food in a more balanced, guilt-free way. Would you enjoy that chocolate more, if it were made with high-quality ingredients? Would you get more satisfaction from that apple pie if you enjoyed it just until you felt satisfied, and then maybe saved the rest for later? I’ll use myself as an example. I love Southern-style mac and cheese. Not the one with the butternut squash or cauliflower. The one with lots of cheese, butter, eggs, and fat. When I do have mac and cheese, I’ll enjoy it with some greens and fish, so the meal is more balanced and complete. This way, I also don’t feel the need to eat larger portions of the mac, because I get satisfaction from the other foods, too. Since I give myself permission to eat mac and cheese whenever I want, I really don’t find myself wanting it all the time.

2. I prioritize healthy eating most of the time.

When it comes to nutrition and health, I like to think of what I’m doing most of time. Am I eating nutritious, balanced meals most of the time? Am I getting some type of movement in most of time? That’s the goal. If I have fries or decide to watch Netflix instead of going for a run, it’s all good—I’m not doing that most of the time.

You don’t just want the numbers on the scale to go down – you want to lose body fat too. With so many mixed messages about what to eat and what not to eat to lose weight, we asked registered dietitian Samantha Bartholomew of Fresh Communications to tell us which diet is the best for losing fat.

© POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio A dietitian answers the big weight-loss question.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one diet to follow, since everyone is different, but if you’re looking for the secret to successful dieting in order to lose fat, follow these five tips.

Most Importantly, Don’t Diet!

Samantha says, “Most dietitians agree: diets don’t work.” Popular diets today are all about encouraging people to give up entire food groups, and while that can work to create a caloric deficit that leads to weight loss, it’s not sustainable.

Related: This Photo Shows Why Eating “Healthy” All Day Long Isn’t Helping You Lose Weight

“If we told you not to think of a giraffe, what’s the first think you think of? A giraffe, obviously. The same principal applies to dieting. When you give up a food group, like grains for example, eventually the grain cravings will kick in.” Instead of swearing off foods, especially ones like whole grains that offer nutritional benefits, focus on lifestyle changes that you can maintain, like adding an extra serving of vegetables to your dinner each night. Small changes are reasonable and lead to big results over time.

Make Healthy Swaps

Find healthier, lower-calorie ways to enjoy your favorite foods. Have a hankering for chocolate? Make these no-bake brownies. Craving cookies? Bake up a batch of these that are date-sweetened. Swap spaghetti squash or carrot ribbons for pasta, cauliflower for rice, or lentils for ground beef. You’ll cut down on calories while also satisfying your cravings. These swaps will help keep you in a healthy calorie deficit, which is essential for losing body fat.

Find a Balance

What foods typically take up most of your plate? If you’re not following the “MyPlate” rules, you could be missing out on a very simple weight-loss trick. Samantha says, “Try to balance your plate by making half of it fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains and the final quarter lean protein. If you can follow this model for meals, they will be nutrient-dense and very satisfying!”

Related: If You Can’t Lose Weight, These Photos Will Make You Say, “Oh, That’s Why!”

Pay Attention to Portions

Have you ever noticed that your grandmother’s coffee cup is about one-quarter the size of your morning mug? Serving sizes have gotten bigger and bigger, and research shows that the size of your plate determines how much you eat. Choose smaller plates to reduce portions and therefore calories. The good news is that if you are truly still hungry, you can always go back for more!

Stop With the “Good” and “Bad”

Samantha encourages you to “stop shame-labeling food! All food can be enjoyed in moderation, and calling a food inherently ‘bad’ or ‘good’ gives food power over the decisions we make.” It’s time to switch up the dialogue, so instead of calling a food “bad,” think of it as a special treat. And rather than “giving a food a ‘health halo,’ simply be thankful for the nutrition it provides.” By doing so, you are recognizing that some foods will give you more of what you need while also understanding there is room in a healthy diet for a treat occasionally!

© POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio A Dietitian Sheds Light on the Best Diet For Losing Body Fat

7 Ways Dietitians Help Their Clients Lose Weight & Keep It Off

If you’re looking to lose weight, you may have tried a cleanse or “detox” in hopes of a quick fix or a means of kickstarting a happier, healthier you. Perhaps you counted points, calories, grams of fat or carbs you consume, or cut out an entire food group.
Now answer this: Was it successful for longer than three months?
The dieting industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry for a reason: It doesn’t work. How many years on the first of January have you resolved to lose weight once and for all, only to find that by Valentine’s Day, your motivation and willpower are nowhere to be found? No matter what day of the year you declare as your start date for weight loss, if you’re employing methods of deprivation, restriction, strict counting or excessive exercise, you’re dieting.
Many want to overhaul their lifestyle and eating habits for a different kind of health journey, which is why some turn to a registered dietitian for professional help. By working with a registered dietitian, you can form sustainable healthy habits, shed those pesky pounds and form a healthier relationship with food.
To become a registered dietitian, you must meet several extensive academic and professional requirements, including a national examination from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Most registered dietitians also receive their master’s degree in dietetics. Finding someone with so many years of training and hard work who can guide you in your journey to health is attractive to many who struggle with weight loss.
For those just getting started or anyone who feels working with an R.D. one-on-one is not an option, though, these seven tips registered dietitians from around the country regularly share with their clients should help. One might be the key to finding the happy relationship with food that your life needs.

The Best Advice Registered Dietitians Offer Their Clients

1. Reconnect with Your Hunger and Fullness Cues
Instead of focusing on weight loss, Gisela Bouvier, R.D.N., L.D.N., helps her clients reconnect with their hunger and fullness cues. “When we learn to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full, we let our bodies determine how much fuel it needs,” she explains
She continues, “Being able to distinguish when our body is asking us for food, versus eating due to boredom or stress versus not eating at all is the first step. A major tool in this step is teaching clients the hunger scale, one being the hungriest and 10 being the fullest.”
Hunger is a physiological sensation, controlled by the hypothalamus in your brain. Everyone reacts differently to hunger and feels hunger in a unique way. Instead of being influenced by when society deems it appropriate to eat—such as at designated meal times—you can begin to honor your hunger and eat when most appropriate for you.
Furthermore, preliminary, exploratory studies show that hunger training could be an effective weight management tool. By checking in with the hunger scale at the beginning and end of your meal, you will learn how to become in tune with your body, recognize physiological hunger and avoid both overeating and undereating.
2. Give Your Kitchen A (Healthy) Makeover
Research repeatedly proves that your kitchen’s blueprint may be the secret to your weight-loss success. By reorganizing your kitchen at the beginning of the year, your chances to effortlessly lose weight dramatically rise.
To start, clear your kitchen counter of all tempting foods, especially cereal and soft drinks. Notable researcher and author of “Slim by Design,” Brian Wansink, Ph.D., led a 2015 study in which more than 200 kitchens were photographed in Syracuse, New York. “The Syracuse Study” became dubbed the “20-pound cereal box” study based on the fact that women who had breakfast cereal on their kitchen counters weighed 20 pounds more on average than those who didn’t. Those with soft drinks left out? They weighed a shocking 24 to 26 pounds more!
Next, replace any cereal, candy, soft drinks or even dried fruit on your kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruit. Individuals with bare kitchen counters, less a bowl of fresh fruit, had significantly lower BMIs (body mass index) than their cluttered countertop counterparts.
Finally, keep healthy foods, like pre-cut vegetables and fruit, at eye level in your refrigerator and pantry. You’re more likely to grab pre-sliced pepper strips as a snack than if you had to first wash and cut a pepper every time you go looking for something to munch on.
3. Become a Writer
New York City-based dietitian Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., has her clients journal—and not just what they eat. She asks that her clients record how they feel mentally and emotionally throughout the day.
Cording says, “This helps pick up on patterns related to stress and emotions, and whether certain people or situations trigger them to choose foods or engage in behaviors that don’t support their goals.”

Various studies support food journaling as a beneficial self-monitoring tool for weight management. Cording states that her clients who spend time journaling about their feelings feel calmer and more clear-headed, benefits which “also support making conscious choices about their food and exercise.”
4. Don’t Rely on Willpower
You want what you can’t have, which is why eliminating entire food groups often does not lead to sustainable weight loss. If you’re ready to kick dieting to the curb once and for all and reclaim your health this year, don’t rely solely on willpower.
Psychologists often compare willpower to a muscle. You can only do so many squats before your quads are on fire and you cannot manage to do one more. Similarly, willpower can become fatigued from exhaustive use.
Trendy or fad diets only work for so long because eventually, you will reintroduce the eliminated foods. When that happens, your weight will creep back up.
And if you’re thinking that no, you’ll never reintroduce the foods that are off-limits, science says that’sunlikely. Eventually, your willpower will weaken, and these “forbidden foods” will likely sneak their way back into your diet.
To have your cake and lose weight too, work to find your food freedom. Adopting an “all foods fit” mentality instantaneously lifts the veil of restriction and reliance upon willpower for weight loss, making it more likely you’ll stick to your guns long-term, even if you give into temptation here or there. Give yourself some grace and acknowledge that if you allow yourself to eat previously restricted foods, you’ll still be more likely to sustain healthy habits over a longer period of time if you continue to follow hunger and fullness clues most of the time.
5. Tidy Up and Get NEAT
Nutrition consultant and author of “Fertility Foods” Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., works with her clients to increase their Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, behaviors. According to Shaw, NEAT behaviors are small servings of activity that are not formal exercise. Some of her favorites include routinely parking at the furthest spot from the entrance at work, when running errands or at your kid’s sports game, or always taking the stairs instead of the elevator. These NEAT behaviors can add up to make a huge impact on your energy level.
Researchers agree. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic and creator of the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” has been working to develop ways for office workers to move more throughout the day, noting that people can burn an extra 100 to 150 calories an hour by upping their NEAT activities.
While working in some physical activity throughout the day has many health benefits, incorporating NEAT activity into your schedule is a great way to work toward your weight-loss goals no matter where you may be. As Shaw goes on to say, “The more you can add to your lifestyle, not take away, the more sustainable it becomes.”
6. Kick Perfection to the Curb
Perfection is overrated and may be standing between you and your desired weight loss. You’ve been there: You’re trying to stick to your diet when you’re out for dinner one night, but there’s nothing on the menu that seems to fit within the guidelines you’re following. You stress out about straying from your diet, end up overeating and then stress out even more the next morning, perhaps working extra hard in the gym to “make up” for the night before.
Perfection is frequently associated with stress, which can wreak havoc on your body. In fact, researchers found that individuals with higher levels of stress hormone cortisol had significantly larger waistlines.
Instead of aiming for perfection this year, try making smaller healthy changes over time to reach and maintain your weight-loss goals. Adopting a flexible mindset will also help you overcome obstacles life throws in your way and improvise instead of abandoning your plans. When I work one-on-one with clients, acknowledging that things will not go perfectly from day one is very important. Life can easily get in the way of forming new habits, but going with the flow makes success easier to come by.
7. Quit Your Cardio Addiction
People are often surprised when I tell them to stop working out so hard. Aerobic exercise is great for your heart, but not as necessary as once believed to achieve your goals. New York-based dietitian Amanda Foti, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N. agrees: “Clients often come to me frustrated that they’re not losing weight when they juggle multiple spin classes, long runs and dance cardio classes each week, but this high-intensity activity may put your body—and hunger—on overdrive!”
People regularly give themselves permission to over-indulge after a particularly sweat-inducing workout, because they’ve “earned it.” Even more, intense cardio workouts can spike inflammation and negatively affect your immune system, further thwarting your weight loss efforts.
So, what should you do instead? Include more strength-training workouts to build lean muscle. Foti says, “Building lean muscle will boost your metabolism, even at rest, helping you benefit from your workout long after you left the gym!”
If you’re ready to feel your best, reclaim your health and form some healthier eating habits, consider incorporating these tried and tested rules registered dietitians call upon for their own clients. When you adopt a healthier lifestyle, not just a diet, you’re able to sustain healthful changes for years to come.

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietitian?

Also, many doctors, including medical doctors, osteopaths, physician assistants, chiropractors and naturopathic doctors, practice clinical nutrition after completing extra work in the study of food and nutrition science.

One of the major differences is that a dietitian can help to diagnose eating disorders or help plan meals for the managing of symptoms of health problems. While nutritionists can certainly offer support in these areas, most of their work deals with food behavior. They teach clients about the general nutrition and health properties in food and offer nutrition supervision.

It’s important to note that only nutritionists that become registered with Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) may legally declare themselves as registered dietitians. The nutritionist profession is much less protected under the law.

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Which Career Is Right For Me?

The answer to this question comes down to training and education. If you want to work as a registered dietitian, you’ll want to earn a degree in dietetics. Some schools offer nutrition science programs with the option to take additional courses to become a registered dietitian (RD). If you choose to pursue a degree in nutrition science without becoming a dietitian, you can always go back and earn the credential.

Keep in mind, there are A LOT of nutrition enthusiasts out there who claim to be health experts. If you really want to work in this field and be successful and profitable at it, you’ll need the right credentials. If you want to open your own practice, work at a doctor’s office, or at a hospital, there’s a good chance you’ll need to be an RD to do so. If you become an RD, you’ll be able to legally help people in your state.

Dietitians and nutritionists typically need a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, or a related area to qualify for employment. Dietitians also may study food service management or food science.

Keep in mind that many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed. It’s not uncommon for dietitians and nutritionists to have advanced degrees. Some employers may require a master’s degree or relevant work experience. Those who have earned advanced degrees or certification in a specialty area may enjoy better job prospects and higher earnings.

What Is Food Science?

Some nutritionists are also called food scientists. Typically, food scientists work for food manufacturers, retailed businesses, or public health promotion. Some nutritionists work as dietitian assistants or food journalists.

Food science is a similar field that offers unique career opportunities. Food scientists study are professionals who focus on researching issues related to food production. Some schools offer food science as an area of specialization.

Food science considers the chemical, biological, and physical properties of food in relation to processing, and storage of food products. If you’re interested in the science behind our health and how food quality is managed, you might want to find a program that offers a food science concentration.

The accredited degree programs below will help you find the right one that meets both your profession and educational goals.

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Benedictine University

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What Is The Career Outlook For Dietitians And Nutritionists?

Depending on where dietitians and nutritionists decide to work – either for an organization, contractually, or independently – in 2015 they made an average of $57,910 a year, based on statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, the nutrition and diet related job field is growing faster than average – at a rate of 16 percent from 2014 to 2024. According to the BLS, the “interest in the role of food and nutrition in promoting health and wellness has increased, particularly as a part of preventative healthcare in medical settings.”

Both dietitians and nutritionists have a responsibility to the health, welfare, and safety of their clients and patients. Many people consider obesity to be epidemic in developed nations and this condition can lead to a multitude of different medical issues. These include cardiovascular and GI issues as well as mental health issues relating to eating disorders and self confidence. These professionals are partners in health and important to the communities they work and serve in.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Dietitians and nutritionists are needed to provide care for people with diabetes, heart disease,and other conditions associated with obesity.

Dietitians and nutritionists are needed just about everywhere, but if you’re interested in learning more about specific areas in the US with the highest employment level in this occupation, see the map below (source: BLS.gov: Occupational Employment And Wages: Dietitians and Nutritionists, data for May 2017).

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What Other Careers In The Field Of Nutrition And Dietetics Exist?

Nutrition is a diverse, dynamic and growing area of study. As such, your career options expand beyond the traditional role of dietician or nutritionist. The field will continue to grow as consumers continue to explore new ways to better their health.

If you’re not sure if working as a dietician is right for you, there are alternatives. Below are a few other career options that you may wish to consider:

  • Health Educators: Community Health Workers: Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities.
  • Community Health Workers: Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.
  • Registered Nurses: Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Some RNs specialize in health and wellness in order to provide dietary and lifestyle advice to their patients.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living.

As you can see, the study of nutrition is varied field. You’ll discover new and interesting areas of study while earning your degree. If you choose to advance your education and pursue a master’s degree in nutrition or a related field, your options for management roles increases.

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7 Reasons You Should Visit a Dietitian

You’ve heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’, but do you believe it? After all, you can’t see or feel the grease from your French fries clogging up your arteries. But if you have poor dietary habits, they probably are wreaking havoc on your body, in more ways than you know. An appointment with a registered dietitian nutritionist can put you on the right path to better health.

“There are many ways diet affects your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being,” says Haley Fritz, the lead Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Shore Medical Center’s new Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program, offered in partnership with Unidine Corporation, which manages Shore’s dietary services. “Your diet can impact whether or not you’ll develop cancer or heart disease, or have a stroke. It can make you fatigued or forgetful, or give you energy and sharpen your mind. Your diet can improve your athletic performance, or hinder your progress. An appointment with an RDN can help identify your problem areas and make significant, lifelong dietary changes.”

Here are seven reasons you should consider scheduling an appointment with a dietitian:

  1. You want to lose weight: Being overweight can put you at risk for acquiring a number of chronic illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes. An RDN can help you develop a meal plan so you can be successful in your weight loss journey, while getting all of your essential nutrients, and ultimately prevent or reverse chronic disease.
    “Changing habits is hard!” Fritz says. “Don’t be ashamed if you’ve tried time after time to lose weight and failed. Just a little bit of help from an RDN can help you be successful. Before you spend money on a fad diet, consider instead meeting with a dietitian. Most insurance plans will cover a number of visits with an RDN, and you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off.”
  2. You are pregnant or want to become pregnant: A healthy pregnancy is about much more than just taking prenatal vitamins. An RDN can work with you to develop a meal plan that ensures you’re getting all the right nutrients and prevent conditions that can harm your baby, like gestational diabetes.
    “It’s important to consume the right nutrients and at the right times in your pregnancy. For example, folate is important in those first three months of pregnancy for proper neural tube development. I can help you make sure you’re getting the full spectrum of nutrients so you and your baby can be as healthy as possible,” Fritz says. “And if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s especially important to maintain proper nutrition after pregnancy.”
  3. You have a digestive disorder or food sensitivity: Diagnoses like irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease or diverticulitis mean you need to make some serious changes to your diet to avoid discomfort and stay healthy. You might also have determined you’re sensitive to certain ingredients like gluten or dairy. An RDN can help you make the change less daunting.
  4. You want to reduce your risk of developing cancer: Whether you’ve had cancer in the past or you simply want to lower your risk of getting it in the future, eating the right foods, and not eating the wrong ones, can make a big difference. If you’re used to eating processed foods, for example, it can be hard to break the habit, but it’s important. An RDN can work with you to identify the healthiest foods for cancer prevention, and how to prepare them on a tight financial budget or time schedule.
  5. You want to be a better athlete: Have you hit a plateau with your exercise program? Are you interested how food can impact your fitness performance goals? An RDN understands the complexities of nutrition and its impact on your athletic performance.
  6. You want to go vegan: If you’ve always wanted to eliminate animal products from your diet but weren’t sure how, a visit with an RDN can put you on the right path. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough plant proteins, and an RDN can help you with that.
  7. You are Suddenly Depressed or Forgetful: What we eat not only affects our body, but our mind as well. If you haven’t been yourself lately and you and your doctor thing your diet might have something to do with it, schedule an appointment with an RDN.

RDNs like Fritz are highly trained professionals who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, or a related field. They’ve also completed an accredited supervised practice program, passed a national exam, and must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their credentials. It’s important to know that all RD/RDNs are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

For information on Shore’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program or for tips and recipes from our team, visit www.shoremedicalcenter.org/nutritional-wellness.

Pictured above: Haley Fritz, RDN, is the lead dietitian for Shore’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling program. To schedule an appointment, call 609-653-4600, option 5.

In a world where every second person is doing paleo, cutting out gluten or generally avoiding entire food groups, it seems the right diet advice can be hard to find.

But when you need an expert opinion, another question pops up – should I see a dietitian or a nutritionist?

The answer is murkier than you think, says Aloysa Hourigan, senior nutritionist at Nutrition Australia, Queensland and Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Neither title is protected by law, leaving the consumer to make a decision based off personal assessment of accreditations and qualifications.

“By current law, anyone can call themselves a dietitian or a nutritionist – there is no protection of the term,” says Hourigan.

“There is no national registration for nutritionists or dietitians like there is for doctors.”

What makes things confusing is that all dietitians can call themselves nutritionists, while not all nutritionists are necessarily dietitians. The key is to finding out what experience and tertiary study the practitioner has undertaken.

According to the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), a dietitian is: “someone who has undertaken a course of study that included substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management”.

The DAA notes there is no industry specific authority that assesses the qualifications of nutritionists who are not dietitians – meaning that anyone can give themselves the title, from the local gym buff to the TV infomercial salesman.

Kellie Bilinski, spokesperson for the DAA and an accredited practising dietitian, says that it’s important to look out for the APD credential that guarantees the practitioner has undergone years of study.

“Accredited Practising Dietitians or APDs are university-qualified professionals that undertake ongoing training and education programs to ensure they are your most up-to-date and credible source of nutrition information.”

It’s this training, says Belinski, which makes dietitians qualified to treat people who are undergoing serious medial diseases.

“For example, for those who are undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy an APD can help to manage their symptoms, which vary depending on the person, and ensure they get enough nutrients to maintain a healthy weight.”

Four tips for finding the right advice

1. Look for the APD credential

Aloysa Hourigan says that it’s hard to go wrong with an APD certified practitioner. “Clinical Nutritionists may come from an alternative health background and the training may vary in its rigour, whereas accredited practising dietitians and community and public health nutritionists gain their qualifications and expertise from tertiary education institutions and the professional training has a strong evidence base.”

2. Check the practitioner’s qualifications

Kellie Bilinski recommends that anyone seeking diet or nutrition advice be fully aware of the expert’s qualifications that they’re seeing.

“Remember APDs are bound by a professional code, which means they are held to high standards when giving dietary advice.”

3. Do your sums

Bilinski recommends seeing your local APD certified dietitian before buying that online weight loss plan.

“The cost of your 10 week online weight loss plan might be the same as 10 weeks’ worth of visits to an APD, and they are providing advice that not only is tailored to your needs and medical history but can be changed or adapted in follow-up sessions if it is not working for you.”

4. Don’t listen to extreme advice

Aloysa Hourigan says that practitioners advocating diets that cut out major food groups, like carbs or fat, are not necessarily based in evidence.

“If you are seeking advice from a nutritionist who is recommending practices like cutting out whole food groups or extreme diets, remember these may not be evidence based practices.”

Should you see a dietitian?

How do you know whether you should see a dietitian and what to expect from a consultation? Dietitian Lisa Yates reveals what to look for and what to expect.

Healthy Food Guide is packed with information from dietitians to help you get healthy and stay that way. Our stories are designed to give you quick, simple facts that you can put into practice. But have you ever wanted to know more about what we’ve talked about? Or wished we could spend more time on your specific issues? Seeing your own accredited practising dietitian (APD) can help fill in the gaps and provide you with ongoing individual care and eating plans.

What exactly is a dietitian?

Dietitians are trained in food and nutrition. They translate scientific nutrition information into practical advice, to help you make the right decision about what to eat. Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is the national credential recognised by the Dietitians Association of Australia. You should check that your dietitian has this credential before making an appointment.

Who sees a dietitian?

Many people think dietitians only help those wanting to lose weight. But, while they do deal with weight loss, dietitians can help people of all ages, genders, nationalities and financial circumstances. You might want more energy, to prevent or recover from illness, to ensure you have a healthy baby, to lose weight, gain weight, or cope with an allergy or intolerance, or just grow old gracefully – dietitians can help anyone.

What can they do?

Dietitians can provide you with a diet prescription. They can educate you and help you decide which foods are right for you right now and in the future. Dietitians can help you shop, give you meal ideas and recipes, and offer support and motivation when you need it. If they have further qualifications in exercise, psychology or diabetes education, they may also help you with exercise prescription, counselling and diabetes management.

What can’t they do?

Dietitians can’t make a medical diagnosis, take blood tests or prescribe drugs. However, they may make suggestions to your GP and provide advice about drug-nutrient interactions.

How much does a consultation cost?

Fees charged by private-practice dietitians vary, and can depend on where you live and how complex your nutrition needs are. For a standard initial consultation of 40–60 minutes, you can expect to pay $50 to $150. Follow-up consultations are usually shorter and cheaper. You may be able to make a claim with your health fund, Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs, depending on your circumstances. Some public hospitals offer free outpatient clinics with dietitians, but there are usually long waiting lists.

What happens when you see a dietitian?

At the first visit, expect to answer lots of questions about your lifestyle, medical history and what you eat, when, why and how much. After an assessment, the dietitian can offer you a plan to tackle your concerns. You may go away with some homework to do before your education sessions begin. Easy challenges at the end of each subsequent visit will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

How long would I need to see a dietitian for?

This depends on your condition – whether it is temporary or permanent – and what your personal circumstances are. When you explain what you need, ask the dietitian how long your individual program may take. Some dietitians offer group education sessions that cost less but mean greater contact in the long term.

Will they just tell me what I already know?

It’s possible, but what you have read or been told by well-meaning friends and family may be incorrect. Dietitians are trained to critique the latest research, combine it with what we already know and provide up-to-date advice. This is why advice will change as time goes on and we learn more about how the body works, and the role food plays in health and disease.

Want to know more?

Send your questions to [email protected]

How do I find a dietitian?

  • Visit www.daa.asn.au or www.sportsdietitians.com.au
  • Call the Dietitians Association of Australia on 1800 812 942.
  • Ask your doctor for a recommendation (but you don’t need a referral to see one).
  • Look for the APD credential or ask the dietitian what their qualifications are, where they got them and how long ago. APDs must undertake 30 hours of professional development each year and abide by a professional code of conduct.

Why should you see a Dietitian?

What is a Registered Dietitian?

First, let’s clear up some confusion about dietitians versus nutritionists. A nutritionist is anyone who is interested in nutrition. A Registered Dietitian (RD) is an expert in food and nutrition and is credentialed on a national level- credentialing is only earned after years of education and training. RDs must also complete regular continuing education requirements and training programs to maintain their license and registration.

Why Should I See a Registered Dietitian?

There are many reasons why someone may benefit from seeing an RD. For example:

  • You need to gain or lose weight. An RD can suggest additional caloric sources for healthy weight gain or a restricted-calorie eating plan, while still allowing you to eat your favorite foods.
  • You want to improve your performance in sports. Fueling your body properly is important for optimal performance. An RD can help you a diet that encourages muscle growth and recovery and help you with pre-race nutrition, nutrition during your activity, and post-race recovery nutrition.
  • You want to eat smarter. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and an RD can help you sort through it all. RDs can teach you how to read food labels, eat healthy on a budget, help you cook healthier and make recommendations on how to eat out without ruining your diet.
  • You have diabetes, cardiovascular problems, or high blood pressure. Big diet changes can be intimidating. An RD can safely change your eating plan without compromising taste or nutrition.
  • You have digestive issues. An RD will help fine-tune your diet to ensure you aren’t aggravating your condition with certain foods.
  • You are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Proper nutrition is especially important during pregnancy and an RD can help make sure you get all the important nutrients you need for you and your baby.
  • You are tired all of the time. An RD can help tweak your diet to provide you with more energy throughout the day. He or she will be able to show you how to better fuel your lifestyle so you can stay energized.
  • You have a food allergy or intolerance. Dealing with a restricted diet can be challenging. An RD can help you figure out foods that fit into your diet without having you sacrifice taste or nutrition.

What should I expect at my appointment?

Registered Dietitians take an “individualized approach” rather than launch right into facts, figures and advice. They take time to find out your medical history, health problems and concerns, what you eat, what you think are “good foods” and “bad foods,” and your nutrition and lifestyle habits. From there, they work with you to determine an individualized, specialized plan of care. You can expect a dietitian to have you keep a food log so they can determine what nutrients you are consuming on a regular basis. Based on this and other lifestyle factors, the dietitian will discuss which foods to eat less of, which foods to incorporate into your diet more often, and a calorie plan to help you achieve your health goals.

Following up is critical!

Diet changes, like any changes, are a gradual process. Patience and consistency is the key. Registered Dietitians will modify your plan or approach based on your feedback, your diet analysis results, and how you’re feeling. Diet changes can be tricky, and the dietitian is there to help you modify your diet and lifestyle with appropriate changes at every appointment so that you can meet your goals.

Why see a nutritionist?

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