When should I see a dietitian?
People can sometimes feel less than 100% sure about knowing what to expect when seeing a dietitian for the first time.
If you’re reading this, you might not be exactly sure why you should even see a dietitian yourself. There’s usually a good reason for this.
The thing is, often people are recommended or referred to see a dietitian and if you’re one of these people you may be feeling a little unsure about your appointment.
Has your doctor has recommended you see a dietitian and you are wondering what a dietitian actually does?
Has a friend seen a dietitian recently and you’ve wondered what they might be able to offer you?
It can be confusing to know what a dietitian does, especially when there are so many dietary recommendations in the media and on social media.
You’d be forgiven for wondering if dietitians do the same thing as the influencers we see on Instagram with the way information is presented these days. I can tell you that dietitians do not do the same thing as influencers on Instagram. And I’ll explain why…
A dietitian will work with you, as the client, to provide coaching and support to enable you to make healthy and nutritious food choices, and better understand your health or condition. We believe in empowering people to achieve long term health success and so don’t recommend gimmicks or fad diets. Any dietary advice a dietitian provides will be backed by hard scientific evidence. We do this because with knowledge and skills you can apply this advice in a way which meets your taste preferences, lifestyle and the way YOU like to prepare YOUR food. It works! And everyone likes things that are tailored to them – especially when it works!
Dietitians can help you reach your nutrition goals in a healthy and sustainable way for a variety of reasons:
- General healthy eating
- Nutrition for mental health
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Managing gut issues such as IBS
- Managing Coeliac Disease and IBD
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Eating for bone health
- Eating for kidney health
- Eating for liver health
- Eating for Diabetes Management
- Eating for Cardiovascular health
- Eating for weight loss
- Eating for weight loss surgery
- Eating for weight gain
- Eating well with reflux
- Eating well during pregnancy and lactation
- Infant and toddler eating
- Managing food preparation
- Managing eating disorders or distorted eating
- Learn how to read food labels when shopping and choose the best options when eating out
- Optimise sport performance
- Eating well for texture modified food and/or thickened fluid
In Australia a dietitian will attend university for a minimum of 4 years. They then are a member by the Dietitians Association of Australia as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, or APD for short. During their degree, they will complete on-site placements in community nutrition, food service, and the acute hospital setting. They learn biochemistry (the study of chemicals and elements and how they work in the cells), biology (physical anatomy and how the body systems function), nutritional physiology (the study of nutrients and how they are processed in the body), and nutritional medicine (the implications of nutrients, diets, and medications on diseases, conditions and other disorders).
They are governed by the Dietitians Association of Australia and bound by the Professional Standards, Statement of Ethical Practice and Code of Conduct. This makes sure that you as the customer receive a high quality standard of health care which is guided by clear scientific evidence.
The truth is that there are many ways for people to have a healthy diet. An APD will work with you to provide personalised dietary advice about your nutrition concern.
What’s the difference between an APD and a nutritionist?
An accredited nutritionist is a tertiary qualified professional who provides advice about nutrition, public health issues, public health policy and research. There is no industry specific authority that moderates the qualification of nutritionists.
APD’s are qualified to provide a range of evidence based nutrition services, and specialises in treating medical conditions.They have expertise in providing individual dietary counselling, medical nutrition therapy, group therapy and food service management. Dietitians are bound by the National Competency Standards for Dietitians.
When you are seeking dietary advice, make sure the person who you are gaining your advice from is an Accredited Nutritionist or APD for solid and trustworthy advice. This includes online advice on instagram or blogs.
What to expect when you see a dietitian
There are many reasons to see a dietitian.The reasons may be guided by recent health changes, your blood test results, your GP’s opinion, or taken initiative by you to better understand your health through the food and drink you consume. But what to expect when you see a dietitian? Let me tell you a little about what happens during an appointment
I’ll ask you about:
- Your health
- Any recent test results
- Your work/study/schooling/life pattern
- Your regular shopping and cooking habits
- Your day to day eating from the first thing you have in the morning to the last at night
- Your day to day drinking from the first thing you drink in the mornin to the last at night
You’ll tell me about:
The most important thing for our appointment is that you tell me about your biggest concerns with your health and your goals of where you would like to reach in your eating and nutrition. We will then set goals and work together to make desirable and achievable incremental changes to reach success. The advice I provide to you will be backed by scientific evidence, so you know what it is reliable information that you can take on board. It is important that we, together, tailor this advice to your regular food pattern so that your changes can be meaningful and sustainable.
What to think about before your first appointment:
- What is this that your GP wants you to do? Is this similar or different to your personal goals?
- What is it that you would like to work on? What does success in goal look like?
- Have a think about your regular eating pattern. For most of us, our eating fluctuates day to day so come prepared to tell me what you have on the most regular day to day basis.
Depending on your goals, we will meet for a minimum of 2-3 times. But we might end up meeting much more regularly. This makes sure that we can continue to work on your goals over time and so that I can support you through-out this journey as much as you would like. The good thing is that I can also be contacted to answer questions on email any time in between our appointments.
If you have been referred by your GP, you may be eligible for a medicare rebate. Proactive Health and Movement have a blog post about this if you would like further information.