Dietitians are known for providing nutrition information, but their role is better defined as part clinician, part detective and part counselor. Seeing a dietitian provides benefits beyond nutrition education.
1. Food Experts
Dietitians are the food experts. No one knows food like they do. At minimum, dietitians must hold a degree in nutrition from an accredited university, have completed a supervised practice program, and have passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Additionally, dietitians are required to take continuing professional education in order to stay up to date on the latest nutrition evidence.
Dietitians adhere to a code of ethics provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its credentialing agency, the Commission on Dietetic Registration. According to this code, dietitians are expected to practice dietetics based on scientific principles and current information; present substantiated information and interpret controversial information without personal bias; and continually strive to increase and apply professional knowledge and skills to their practice.
When you see a dietitian, you can be confident in knowing that you are getting the most up-to-date and reliable information. While there are many research articles containing contradicting information, not all studies are conducted in a broad or unbiased manner. Dietitians know how to locate, interpret and deliver scientifically-sound research to you in an understandable way.
3. Food Facts
Major changes in how food is grown, processed, cooked, served and marketed have created mass confusion surrounding food. Further complicating the way we choose and eat food are fad diets and misinformation provided by unqualified individuals.
Dietitians are able to demystify food and eating by providing accurate information about nutrients, calories, serving sizes, food groups, labels, marketing tactics, food ingredients, allergies, interactions and more.
4. Personalized Nutrition
Because each person is a unique individual, there is not one nutrition plan that will work for everyone. Age, height, weight and gender are just a few factors that determine your nutrient needs. Other personal aspects such as physical activity, special needs, family health history and present health conditions require further specialization. Dietitians take all of these things into consideration and are able to create a personalized plan that aligns with your specific health needs and goals.
5. Problem Solving
Dietitians not only consider the physical aspects surrounding food, they also work with personal and emotional aspects. If you find that eating healthy is difficult to work into your lifestyle because of certain road blocks, a dietitian can work with you to find solutions to problems and barriers. Additionally, they can provide tips, tricks and resources that can assist any individual in reaching their full potential.
6. Motivation and Support
Besides giving nutrition information and advice, dietitians also provide motivation, support and accountability to their clients. Because eating is so personal and often requires behavior change, it's helpful to have a trusted and resourceful health professional to talk with that will help you celebrate, solve and/or adjust any of the many things that may occur during your journey to achieving your health goals.
Mandy Seay is a bilingual registered and licensed dietitian who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. After gaining 30 pounds while living abroad, Mandy worked to lose the weight and regain her health. It was here that she discovered her passion for nutrition and went on to pursue a career as a dietitian. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management and general and preventive nutrition. She recently published her first book, Your Best Health, a personalized program to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle. If you would be interested in working with Mandy one-on-one, sign-up for FitDay Dietitian.