04 Jan When to See a Dietitian and What to Expect
Most people come to see a dietitian because something has happened. Sometimes they’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition. Other times, they’ve seen a photo and decided now is the time to finally do something about their weight. Sometimes they are at their wits end with gut problems which are causing pain, discomfort and interfering with their social life. Whatever the reason, people usually get in touch knowing their food choices need to change somehow, but may be unsure about exactly what needs to change or the practical details of how to do it. That’s when seeing a dietitian can help.
People who will benefit the most from seeing a dietitian include:
- People who want to change their weight (lose weight or gain weight) and/or want to develop a healthy relationship with food.
- People with gut problem (eg. Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, Coeliac disease, IBS)
- People who have low energy levels.
- People with diabetes who need advice on controlling their blood sugar levels.
- People who have an allergy or sensitivity and need to avoid certain foods.
Do I need to prepare anything?
I like to have a quick chat on the phone with people before I see them. This helps to ensure I’m the best person to help them and allows me to do any preparation before the appointment. I will usually ask people to write down what they eat and drink for 3 days before the appointment. If they’ve had blood tests done recently, I will ask them to bring a copy of the results. I also get people to complete a new patient registration form which provides their name, address, birthday, GP, medications, alcohol intake, physical activity level and gets consent to weigh or measure them.
What happens during an appointment?
I will review all of the above information and then ask questions about who buys/shops/cooks their food, sleep, stress, appetite and anything else I think will help me figure out what the underlying problem is. All of this is designed to give personalised advice which will give people the results they are looking for.
Many people think that a dietitian’s role is just to tell people what they can and can’t eat. I consider myself to be more of a detective. If you are experiencing weight loss, weight gain, gut problems, low energy levels, etc, the goal of my assessment will always be to try and figure out WHY this is happening and what the underlying problem is. Correctly identifying the root cause of the problem is critical if you want to sort the issue once and for all. So if you’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to make changes to what you eat, instead of thinking that you are lazy or unmotivated…it might be more helpful to believe that you just haven’t correctly identified the underlying problem.
I love helping people lose weight because it really challenges my detective skills. There are literally thousands of different books and articles written on the topic of weight loss and people will often jump from one eating plan to the other in search of something which will actually work for them. However, I find very few people stop to think about what the underlying problem is. So instead of just blindly assuming, “it’s because I eat too much,” my question is always why. Why is someone eating more than their body needs? If they are eating because they have no other way to manage stress, then telling them to stop comfort eating or telling them to eat something different isn’t going to be particularly helpful or effective. If, on the other hand, someone is carrying extra weight because they have lost touch with knowing the difference between physical hunger and wanting to eat, then that requires a completely different approach and tactic. Solutions for people who have gained weight due to medication, thyroid problems or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), will be completely different again.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and everyone I see gets a personalised action plan (and personalised meal plan if desired).
Blog compiled by Sheri Taylor, Dietitian & Nutritionist at Halo.
Sheri Taylor offers a clinic at Halo Physio each month. If you would like to book an appointment, contact her at 07787 603863 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligation discussion of what your needs are and how she can help.
Find out more about Sheri here