Knowing when you should hire a dietitian is vital for reaching your goals or for overcoming the unique challenges you may be experiencing on your journey with nourishing yourself.
Whether you have a health goal, a specific medical condition or are simply embarking on a new phase in your life, a dietitian can give you the knowledge, guidance and peace of mind you need to act accordingly.
But how do you know when it’s really necessary? Here I’ll walk you through 6 situations when you should hire a dietitian.
6 Situations When You Should Hire a Dietitian
A dietitian will be able to take a look at your current lifestyle, your goals and your dietary intake to create a comprehensive plan that works for you and your needs.
If you find yourself in any of the following situations, reaching out to a dietitian would be a great next step for you!
You Have a Health Condition
A health condition could be any number of things. From an autoimmune disease like Crohn’s disease or arthritis to type II diabetes or high cholesterol, a dietitian can help you with them all.
Often times you’re simply given a few handouts constituting diet and lifestyle recommendations after receiving a diagnosis. Continued diet and lifestyle support is seldom provided. While these generalized recommendations can give you a place to start, they’ll often leave you feeling confused and frustrated regarding next steps.
An appropriate diet and lifestyle can significantly improve most health conditions. Handouts won’t be able to give you step-by-step lifestyle and diet guidelines that are specifically tailored to your needs, but a dietitian will.
You Have a Specific Weight Goal
If you have a specific weight goal that you’re striving to achieve, you should hire a dietitian.
Whether you’re looking to gain weight, maintain weight or lose weight, there is quite a bit of conflicting information out there regarding what to do and how to do it. When trying to navigate these health goals on your own, it’s easy to end up following a one-size-fits-all plan that simply isn’t right for you.
These plans and recommendations can give you false information and lead you down a road that can be very difficult to come back from. Whether it’s a restrictive fad diet, inadequate nutrient recommendations or simply false information, it’s all out there.
Work with a dietitian from the start to ensure the recommendations you’re receiving are both evidence and science-based.
You Have Disordered Eating Behaviors or an Unhealthy Relationship With Food
If you find that you have a negative relationship with food, even if you feel that it’s slight, you should hire a dietitian.
A negative relationship with food can have different layers of severity, but a few signs include experiencing guilt after eating, believing there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, labeling certain foods as “off-limits,” and being stressed about food or what to eat.
On a more severe level, a negative relationship with food can also lead to disordered eating habits.
Here are a few clues you may have disordered eating behaviors:
- Yo-yo dieting
- Anxiety associated with skipping meals or certain food items
- Constant weight fluctuations
- Rigid nutrition or fitness routines and rituals
- Extreme feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating
- Obsession with food as it relates to weight and body image that results in a negative impact on daily life
- Lack of control around good, compulsive eating habits
- The use of exercise, food restriction, purging or fasting to “make up for bad foods eaten” (2)
When left untreated, these habits can snowball and take on a larger presence in your life over time. Working with a dietitian that’s well-versed in disordered eating habits will allow you to address the issue at hand and mend your relationship with food in a healthy way.
You Have Digestion Complications
Digestion complications can be tricky. There’s almost always quite a bit involved. From underlying disease states to food sensitivities and intolerances, the gut microbiome as well as plain old food intake – they may all play a role here.
If you have perpetual digestive issues that you can’t seem to get under control, you should consider working with a dietitian. They’ll be able to take a look at the big picture and give recommendations that are suited for your individual needs.
Many of the plans and recommendations out there will only fix one piece of the puzzle that is digestion. This often leaves you feeling relief for a short period of time, but you fall back into your usual symptoms soon thereafter.
You Have Food Intolerances or Allergies
Speaking of food allergies and intolerances, hiring a dietitian can make a world of a difference here. If you find that certain foods bother you, or you’re experiencing symptoms but aren’t quite sure which food items are specifically to blame, touch base with a dietitian.
If food allergies or intolerances are present, a well-versed dietitian will be able to guide you through an organized, easy-to-follow elimination diet. You’ll finally walk away with certainty, relief and answers.
There is so much inaccurate information out there pertaining to food allergies, intolerances, and elimination diets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with clients after they’ve tried to tackle this on their own! They come to me feeling overwhelmed, stressed and discouraged.
In contrast, after working with me, they have answers and know exactly what their next steps should be.
You’re in a New Period of Life
Let’s say you’ve got the whole nutrition thing down pat. You know what to eat and how to eat to support a healthy relationship with food while also reaching or maintaining your health goals. This is awesome!
But let’s say something significant in your life shifts; you’re pregnant, or you move and no longer have access to the same resources you once did. Maybe you’re in menopause or you get a new job and find yourself struggling to maintain your previously well-balanced lifestyle. These are all perfect situations to hire a dietitian.
A dietitian will start by reviewing what you were previously doing. They’ll then understand why it worked, and give you the recommendations and guidance you need. You’ll be able to move forward in this new period of life with confidence and support.
Pregnancy is a particularly important phase for this. Ensuring that both you and the baby are receiving the appropriate nutrients and care is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Having a dietitian on your team will help to ensure this!
5 Questions to Ask Yourself to See if You Should Hire a Dietitian
Still on the fence? Ask yourself the following 5 questions to determine whether or not hiring a dietitian is a good idea for you.
- Have you already tried on your own and been unsuccessful?
- Are you experiencing “information overload”?
- Does food and nutrition feel like a stressful, controlling factor in your life?
- Are you unsure as to whether or not you’re doing the “right” thing?
- Have you worked with someone other than a dietitian and seen results, but felt as though the habits implemented were unrealistic to maintain?
If you answered yes to any of the above listed questions, you should hire a dietitian.
How To Choose A Dietitian That’s Right For You
Now that you know you need to hire a dietitian, how do you know which dietitian is right for you?
Just like doctors, physical therapists and nurses, dietitians have specialties, too. While some have experience with multiple specialties, others are heavily focussed on just one or two realms of nutrition.
The best way to determine whether or not a dietitian is right for you is to conduct an introductory call or meeting. Get to know their personality, understand their methods and make sure they are someone you trust for your care.
For example, at Nutrition Stripped we offer free discovery calls for anyone interested in our Wellness Coaching. We’ll get to know one another before getting started to determine whether or not we’re the right fit for you.