How a Dietitian Can Help You

Before learning how a dietitian can help you, it’s important to know what exactly a dietitian is.

A dietitian is different from a nutritionist. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but dietitians must complete multiple levels of education and training established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. A registered dietitian, or R.D., is an expert in the field of food and nutrition who can help promote health and manage disease. They can work in various settings – from community organizations, schools, and hospitals to clinics and research institutions.

We sat down with Hailey Meert, Cameron’s registered dietitian nutritionist, to better understand why someone should see a dietitian and how they can help.

Who Should See a Dietitian?

Anyone can see a dietitian. Whether you want to lose weight, better manage a specific medical condition, improve your overall health or boost your athletic performance, a registered dietitian can help. Some people consult a dietitian to simply maintain their health. It’s important to include healthy habits in your daily routine to protect yourself from disease.

Dietitians are needed at all stages of life, from infants to seniors. However, before you see a registered dietitian at Cameron, you’ll need a physician’s referral.

What Will I Learn From a Dietitian?

Dietitians have many programs and resources at their disposal to help individuals better understand their body and relationship to food. Registered dietitians often work one-on-one with a patient to establish a plan that includes best practices and achievable goals. When building out a nutrition plan, dietitians consider disease states, patient goals, anthropometries, labs, personal preferences, usual eating patterns, financial constraints and more.

Probably most important, the plan will contain concrete steps to help you reach your ultimate goal. Hailey says some people worry the plan will create big changes or disruptions in their life. In those cases, she advises patients to start by making a few small changes, such as:

  1. Increase vegetable consumption throughout the week. Eat vegetables 3-4 times a week? Try to increase to eating vegetables every day.
  2. Decrease sugar-sweetened beverages. Used to drinking a daily soda? Decrease to one soda a week and explore alternative beverages such as green tea or sparkling water.

These small goals will help you stay motivated and on track in your health and wellness journey.

How Do You Measure Progress?

Measuring progress is different for everyone! While most of us use data, such as the number on the scale, to measure progress, that’s not the only way. Hailey also looks for progress in how her patients are feeling or in their overall understanding of the role of nutrition in their lives.

She strongly recommends patients commit to2-3 small changes or goals in their first session. Each session thereafter, sheasks about these goals to see if patients have achieved them. Once a goal is achieved, another small change is added.

How Can a Dietitian Help Someone Who Has Diabetes?

Hailey says dietitians can work alongside someone who has diabetes by explaining the impact of different types of food on blood sugar levels and helping them to incorporate carbohydrate guidelines into their daily routines.Dietitians can provide meal examples, teach patients how to read a food label, and showthem how to count carbohydrates. They are a great resource to help diabetic patients maintain a healthy lifestyle well into the future.

How Often Do Patients Meet With a Dietitian?

There is no one-size-fits-all for how often a patient should see a dietitian. Some people check in every 2-3 weeks, while others will touch base every few months. Frequency can also depend on insurance coverage and an individual’s personal preference. Sometimes patients will only meet with a dietitian once, but Hailey always encourages them to come back for a follow-up.

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment with Hailey, seek a referral from your primary care provider. For more information, visit Cameron’s dietetic services.


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