Dietitians: your health champions

Dietitians: your health champions

As Nutrition Month draws to a close, here’s a post about how a dietitian can help you achieve your health and nutrition goals. As a registered professional who must follow evidence-based guidelines of care, and demonstrate competence in his or her field of practice, a dietitian can be an essential part of your health care team.

  1. A dietitian can help you separate the good from the bad in nutrition information. Many people want to eat healthy, but feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of information available, much of which contradicts itself. A dietitian can interpret studies and critique media reports with a background of extensive nutritional study, helping you make the best decisions about your diet.
  2. A dietitian can help you translate nutrition into food. If you have heard that the Mediterranean diet can help prevent onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and you want to follow that way of eating, a dietitian can not only explain the details to you,  but also help you make changes in your current diet that will fit into your life. Sustainability is essential in making any lifestyle changes – extreme changes in the way you eat are unlikely to be long-lasting. A study done a few years ago found that the best diet is the one we can stay on the longest. This makes sense, as changes in health, good or bad, do not develop overnight.
  3. A dietitian is qualified to help you manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and kidney disease, by optimizing your diet for the best possible outcomes. Often people have a fear of seeing a dietitian, thinking they will hear that they can’t eat their favourite foods anymore. A good dietitian recognizes that he or she is part of your collaborative health team, and will makes suggestion based on what you are currently doing, rather than making recommendations without consideration of your own preferences and habits; what you put into your body is ultimately your choice, no one else’s. Which brings me to the last point…
  4. A dietitian can help you improve your relationship with food, while recognizing the emotional and cultural significance of food in your life. Identifying triggers to problem eating and barriers to achieving your health and nutrition goals are essential to making positive diet changes, and a dietitian is the best professional to help you do this.

If you have a food question, are trying to figure out if the latest diet is for you, or have a health condition which would improve with diet changes, make sure you connect with a dietitian, whether through your local health authority, or in private practice. If you have extended health benefits, you may have coverage for a private-practice dietitian and be able to see one without any wait. Have a great week and happy Easter!

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