If you’ve ever struggled with health or weight loss goals, you’re not alone. According to this article, 95% of all dieters regain any weight they lose in 1–5 years. Working hard to reach a weight loss goal only to watch it all slowly creep back on is discouraging, to say the least. Yet the short-term nature of diets virtually guarantees failure for most people trying to lose weight.
So, how can we break the yo-yo cycle of diets and achieve real, long-term success? One popular answer is to seek the help of a trained professional like a registered dietitian.
What Does a Dietitian Do?
Registered dietitians are professionals who have completed a bachelor’s degree and clinical training from an accredited dietetics certification program. In addition, some dietitians are now choosing to add nutrition coaching training to their education, enabling them to help their clients in the areas of habit change and healthy lifestyle design.
A dietitian’s job is to provide food and nutrition information, along with support, to people looking to improve their health. This includes working with clients one-on-one and helping them manage chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
How Can a Dietitian Help You Lose Weight?
If weight loss is a goal for you, a dietitian can help you reach your goals by providing the tools and knowledge you need to find success, including:
- A tailored, long-term eating plan.
Ask most dietitians and they’ll tell you that success is all about committing to healthy lifestyle changes, as opposed to diets. Armed with nutritional knowledge, they create highly individualized eating plans that are not only successful in the short-term but sustainable long-term, so you can get healthy and keep the weight off for good.
- Support and accountability.
So, you’ve talked to your dietitian and you’ve got your plan. Now what? A big part of a dietitian’s job is to provide support and hold you accountable on your health journey. This includes getting your goals down on paper, checking in regularly to make sure you’re meeting your milestones, and perhaps most importantly, helping you get back on track after a setback.
- Practical recommendations.
A good dietitian is an incredible resource for tips and tricks that can help you stick with a healthy eating plan and reach your goals. They can offer recommendations for apps that track calories or physical activity, overhauling the foods you keep in your refrigerator and pantry, grocery lists and meal planning, and even offer tips on how to reconnect with hunger and fullness cues to avoid eating out of boredom or for emotional reasons.
What to Expect When Seeing a Dietitian
On your first visit to a dietitian, be prepared to answer a lot of questions. After all, the more your dietitian knows about you, the better they can tailor an eating plan to your unique needs, habits, and preferences.
Even before your first visit, they may ask you to keep a detailed food log that chronicles not only what you eat, but when you eat it. Other questions may relate to your overall health, medications and supplements you’re taking, your activity level, and factors that might thwart your progress (e.g. stress, time constraints, lack of motivation, etc.).
Armed with this information, they’ll be able to create an eating plan that includes both short- and long-term lifestyle modification goals.
How to Find a Dietitian
You may be wondering how you can find a dietitian near you. We recommend asking your healthcare provider for a referral. They’re most likely to know which RDs might specialize in specific conditions or have skills that pertain to your needs. If you want to research on your own, other good sources of information include your health insurance company, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, and of course the advice of trusted friends, family, and colleagues.
When researching, we also recommend looking for a dietitian with a background in nutrition and habit change coaching. These dietitians have received specific training in how to coach their clients to master healthy habits and create lasting, positive results.
The fact is, seeing a dietitian is a big first step toward improving your health. No matter who you choose, be proud of the effort you’re putting in. With the right dietitian and some perseverance, you can achieve the health results you’re looking for!
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