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What treatment can I expect from my dietitian?

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics
You can expect professional, personalized and non-judgmental care from a dietitian. A dietitian has been trained to "meet clients where they are" and assist them to where they want to be. Dietitians are like co-captains of their client's ship: They help navigate and direct them to their desired destination. A dietitian will help you understand what really works as it relates to food and the body. They assist in separating fact from fiction, regardless of the nutrition topic.

The initial nutrition visit is where the dietitian gets to know you and you get to know them. An assessment of dietary and physical activity habits, medical conditions and social status is made. Visits thereafter, help monitor and assess short term nutrition goals that lead to whatever the long term nutrition goal may be. When and if obstacles or barriers are identified, the dietitian will assist the client in knocking the barrier down to get to the next level.

Strategies vary depending on the style of the dietitian and the need of the client. If the dietitian is an "out of the box" thinker like myself, you may find yourself cooking a meal instead of planning one on paper, or "role-playing" the reason diets don't work instead of talking about them. Dietitians want their clients to use food to nourish the body. Therefore, dietitians will provide the "best" nutrition care when a client comes to see them.
Cheryl Orlansky
Nutrition & Dietetics
A registered dietitian will assess and evaluate your current diet, take into consideration medical history and current lab work and make an individualized plan (based on science) for you. This plan will help you meet your goals and must be a realistic plan based on your lifestyle. 
Lynn Grieger
Nutrition & Dietetics
Your dietitian should listen carefully to your concerns, ask you questions to help clarify your situation, and then provide you with scientifically sound, research-based guidelines to help you reach your goals.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
A registered dietitian will look at your individual needs and then recommend a plan that is right for you. Your dietitian will take into account many different aspects of your life and work with you to meet your dietary needs. Dietitians are well trained in the field of food, nutrition, and health and have many ways to help clients achieve their goals.

Usually a visit with a dietitian lasts an hour. He or she will take a diet and exercise history to understand your eating habits and patterns. The dietitian will want to know your medical history and what medications you are talking to see if there are any nutrient drug interactions. This information will help the dietitian formulate a plan to help meet your needs.

Dietitians are a diverse group. In addition to office visits, some dietitians will take you to the grocery store to help you find healthy products, teach you to cook, and provide you with recipes. Again, the treatment will be individual to accommodate your needs.
During your first visit, your dietitian will assess your dietary needs, a process that generally takes an hour or more. Follow-up visits usually take 30 minutes. Follow-up visits allow for sharing further helpful information, progress checks, and adjustments to your meal plan. Even though your diabetes management may seem to be on target, don’t neglect periodic follow-up visits with your dietitian.

Dietitians can advise you on many useful strategies:
  • How to use meal planning and carbohydrate counting guides, such as those published by the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • How to count dietary carbohydrate and fat and make adjustments in your insulin dose 
  • How to read food labels 
  • How to handle eating out in restaurants 
  • How to make choices when grocery shopping 
  • How to handle holidays and other special events 
  • How to prepare and include foods that are important and meaningful for you and your family
Dietitians may also provide you with a wealth of nutritional resources, such as cookbooks and reading materials, so that you can learn how to prepare easy, nutritious, and satisfying meals for your whole family.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.