Although most people think of weight loss as a reason to see a dietitian, there are many other good reasons to see a dietitian. When I wanted to become a vegetarian as a teenager, my mom took me to see a registered dietitian to help me make sure I was getting all the right nutrients. She gave me advice and tips on what foods would be good for me to include in my diet, and she even gave me several recipes. When looking for someone for me to see, my mom was careful to take me to a registered dietitian, which is slightly different from a nutritionist. A registered dietitian is a nutrition expert who has met certain credentialing requirements, which include obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, having experiential practice, passing the national exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and maintaining continuing education. Unlike nutritionists, registered dietitians must be licensed. Unfortunately, even though there are great nutritionists, just about anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, which is one of the reasons to see a dietitian. You can be sure they have proper training.
One of the more important reasons to see a dietitian is if you have food allergies. Having allergies to foods can make it hard to eat a balanced diet, especially if you have multiple allergies. If you are allergic to dairy, a dietitian can help you find alternate food sources of calcium and make sure you are eating enough of these foods to meet your calcium needs. Also, a dietitian can teach you about foods you need to avoid if you have an allergy. People with celiac disease know they need to avoid gluten, but gluten is hidden in many sources that are not obvious. A dietitian can help you navigate hidden allergens. If you have multiple food allergies, a dietitian can assist you with developing a rotation diet so you don’t develop new allergies to the foods you can eat. Seeing a dietitian if you have allergies can make a big difference in your ability to eat healthy and recover from your allergic reactions.
2. Digestive Issues
You may not initially think of seeing a dietitian for digestive issues however, dietitians can help people ease their digestive complaints. One of the causes of digestive issues is IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. IBS affects the large intestine and can cause cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. As miserable as it can be, it is one digestive problem that can usually be solved with diet. Doctors have found that certain sugars can make IBS worse. A dietitian can help you avoid these sugars, which will help your IBS. In addition to helping people with IBS, dietitians can also help people with Crohn’s disease and simpler problems like occasional gas or constipation.
3. Medical Conditions
Aside from problems like IBS and Crohn’s disease, dietitians can help ease symptoms or even treat other medical conditions. Heart disease and diabetes are two major medical conditions that can greatly be helped by a dietician. Both of these diseases can be controlled and, in many cases, reversed through diet. People with heart disease need to follow a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, while people with diabetes need to monitor their sugar intake to avoid an insulin spike. Dietitians can set up a plan for people with medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes so they can start to control their conditions better.
4. Weight Control
Whether you want to gain or lose weight, a dietitian can help you meet your goal. They can make sure you are getting the right amount of calories so you can safely meet your desired weight. Also, seeing a dietitian when you are on a weight loss plan can ensure that you are still getting the necessary nutrients. When you cut calories to lose weight it can be very challenging to still get all the vitamins and minerals that you need for your health. Similarly, even people who are trying to gain weight may fall short in some nutrients if they are relying heavily on processed foods for calories. A dietitian will be able to provide you with a diet that will give you both the right amount of calories and the right amount of nutrients while you are working to reach your goal weight.
There are so many nutrients that unborn babies need during the gestation period, especially during key points in the pregnancy. For example, extra calcium is needed to support the growth of the baby’s bones, and omega 3 fatty acids are essential for brain development. A dietitian can help you make sure that you are getting the right amount of key nutrients for your growing baby. They can also help you learn what foods you should limit or avoid.
6. Athletic Performance
If you are trying to improve your athletic performance, seeing a dietitian in addition to your trainer can be very helpful. There are specific nutrients that are very important for athletic performance. You need adequate levels of electrolytes for hydration and proper body function. You also need calcium for bone health and muscle contraction, glucose to replenish glycogen stores in muscles, and branched chain amino acids to help muscles recover and grow. These are just a few examples of the nutrition needed for athletic performance. Seeing a dietitian and going over your goals with them will help you get a plan for how to meet your specific nutrient requirements for improved athletic performance.
7. Advice on Healthy Eating
You don’t have to have a specific goal to see a dietitian. You may just want advice on how to eat healthier. A dietitian can look over your current diet and see where you need to make changes and show you any unhealthy patterns in your eating. They can also provide you with ideas about healthy foods to include in your diet. While seeing a dietitian when you don’t have a specific goal may seem unnecessary, establishing healthy eating patterns can help you ensure long term health. It is better to see a dietitian for help with healthy eating before you develop medical conditions.
Increasingly, people are becoming aware of how food can affect health. Seeing a dietitian can help you develop a plan that is unique to your needs and make sure you are as healthy as you can be. I have seen dietitians on several occasions in my life, and have always left with useful information. Have you ever seen a dietitian?