What to Expect from a Nutritionist:
Wellness Professional Spotlight Part 1
By Laurie Fanelli in Healthy Feeling
Regardless of the reason for scheduling your appointment, what to expect from a nutritionist should be fairly straightforward. Most nutritionists follow similar principles and guidelines, but their methods may vary, so it is a good idea to determine what exactly you are looking for in a nutritional therapist before diving into a program.
Are you hoping to find a food drill sergeant to hammer home the importance of healthy eating, or are you more interested in a flexible guide who can construct a plan to include your favorite treats? There are also nutritionists who specialize in a variety of dietary needs, including vegan, gluten free, nut allergies, and so on.
Once you've determined your own personal goals, call around and chat with a few different dietitians to make sure that you are setting yourself up for a successful partnership. Consider asking other health and wellness professionals—doctors, trainers, masseuses—if they have any recommendations on a nutritionist who will support your lifestyle goals.
You can even start by simply asking the question, "How can a nutritionist help me?" If the answer motivates you, you can begin your journey to find the right nutrition expert for you.
Before the Appointment
Most nutritionists will ask you to provide information about your health and diet prior to your first consultation. This may include questions about your medical history, your family history, your lifestyle, and the reason why you scheduled the appointment. Some nutrition experts may ask you to keep a food journal that details everything you eat over several days. It's extremely important to be honest with yourself and your nutritionist, so you can develop an effective meal plan. If you have a habit of snacking out of boredom or reaching for ice cream after a bad day, include that in your notes.
Below are a few examples of what to expect from a nutritionist questionnaire:
- What medical conditions have you been diagnosed with?
- Do you smoke and/or drink alcohol?
- Do you want to gain or lose weight?
- What diets have you been on in the past?
- What type of food do you typically eat?
- Do you have any allergies?
- How often do you exercise?
During the Consultation
Now that you have filled out your health history and completed a food journal, your nutritionist has a blueprint to build an ideal meal plan. Meeting face to face during the consultation allows each of you to ask follow-up questions and identify the best way to meet your specific goals.
During this consultation, be sure to express exactly what you are hoping to achieve. Do you want to totally revamp your eating habits or are you more interested in a few tweaks to add more fiber or iron—e.g., eating hummus—to your diet?
The most important piece is to develop a plan that will work for you. If you want a hands-on approach where you check in with your nutritionist daily, let them know. Your nutritionist wants you to succeed in living a healthier life so speak up if an aspect of your diet plan doesn't seem feasible.
Following a Plan
Armed with your newly developed meal plan, you are now ready to pursue the next stages of your dietary goals. Not to state the obvious here, but it is important to follow the plan for it to work. If you happen to find that a certain aspect is especially difficult—for example, you discover that you do not like quinoa and it is a staple in the plan—let your nutritionist know as soon as possible, so they can make an adjustment that suits you.
In your follow-up appointments, share your successes and failures to further perfect your plan. As you begin to achieve your desired results, you can discuss further goals and the best way to maintain your new, healthier status quo.
A nutritionist can help you achieve your health and wellness goals by developing a meal plan based on your specific needs, tastes, and dietary restrictions. Along with a personal trainer and a massage therapist—more on that in future blog posts—a nutritionist will empower you to take your health into your own hands.
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This article was brought to you by Tom's of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom's of Maine.
Why It’s Good
A nutritionist can empower you to achieve your health and wellness goals with a well-rounded meal plan designed specifically for your needs. Whether you are interested in losing weight, lowering cholesterol, or increasing energy, eating the right food—and getting the right nutrients—will put you one step closer to success.