In the age of information-overload, it’s easy to try and bypass hiring help and instead be our own “expert” in just about anything.
Need to fix your car engine? No problem, just Youtube a nifty video and BAM…No need for an expensive mechanic.
Need to quickly recover from a cold? No problem, Dr. WebMD to the rescue…No need for an annoying doctor’s visit.
My examples could be endless, but the point is, we often think we can do better than the professionals.
Now, is this always the case?
Of course figuring things out on your own can be empowering and fulfilling. However, I’ll make the case why you’re way better off hiring a nutrition professional, aka a dietitian. In fact, I’ll even make the case why you’d be crazy not to hire a dietitian when it comes to your nutrition!
What is a Registered Dietitian? Is it Different than a Nutritionist?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) can also go by the credential Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Either way, this is a nationally recognized credential reflecting that this person is a “food and nutrition expert.” There’s standardized training and credentialing, and if you want the details, check out this article from Eat Right Pro on What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
RDs or RDNs are different than “nutritionists.” A nutritionist simply isn’t a standardized term. It could mean the person has a PhD or Masters degree in nutrition. It could also mean the person took a weekend course in Nutrition 101. The key is to ask the person what their training entailed to truly know what you’re working with!
Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Dietitian
Okay, now comes the part when I convince you it’s worthwhile to put your hard-earned dollars into hiring a dietitian despite the internet and bookstores being inundated with nutrition information.
Below are my top 5 reasons, and if you need any more after that, then let’s chat!
First and foremost, think of your dietitian as your coach.
What do coaches do exactly? Well, part of their role is to educate and teach concepts, but there’s so much more! Coaches provide accountability, systemization, feedback and encouragement. Your coach meets you where you are and sequences all the pieces together.
Guidance through each stage of the process, with a little pat on the back when you need it, makes the student much more successful.
Even the best athletes, business-women (or men), artists and musicians in the world still have coaches. A shoulder to lean on and a support system are vital to continued success.
Your dietitian is your nutrition and lifestyle coach. Hire one if you want not just the “what to do,” but “how to do it.”
2. Quicker Results
Save yourself the time, money and energy of trial-and-error and instead hire a dietitian.
Your dietitian is not only formally trained in this stuff, but continues her/his education over the years to maintain the credential. Let your dietitian attend webinars and conferences and read the research, news, and latest reports so you can focus on your own specialty.
Dietitians have thousands of practice hours working with all kinds of patients/clients. Through that experience, your dietitian will know the best way to proceed with meeting your health needs.
Now you could place your trust in “Doctor Google,” but you may end up right back where you started, or even worse off! Get the quicker results you’re after by working with a trained nutrition professional.
3. Avoid the B.S.
I hate to burst your bubble if you aren’t already aware of this, but not everything we read and hear is true!
Often, the sexier and catchier a headline sounds, the less likely it is to be true. With this in mind, it’s so easy to fall for “the next best thing” that sounds legit, when in all actuality it’s complete B.S.
Rather, work with a college-educated, credentialed professional who has your best interest in mind. If that’s not enough to convince you, all dietitians are required by our commissioning body to take ethics courses (as most professions do) to maintain the credential.
Boiling it down, you can trust your dietitian to steer you towards evidence-based nutrition advice.
We are all unique snowflakes…
But really, we are.
Sometimes recommendations can be generalized for certain populations, but ultimately nutrition does need to be tailored for the individual.
Group programs and online courses are great for getting a standard approach, but for optimal results it’s best to work one-on-one with a dietitian who can tweak the nutrition plan for you.
For instance, many people try out the low FODMAP diet by finding a food-list online. There can be so many unique ways that this doesn’t work out for you! Is this list outdated? Does the list specify portion sizes? Do you perhaps have other types of adverse food reactions? By working with a trained specialist, you’ll do the diet right and learn all the ins and outs to personalize it!
Additionally, your dietitian will learn about your lifestyle and preferences to help direct a realistic approach. We all can’t cook 3-meals per day from scratch. Working with a dietitian, you’ll get the nitty-gritty details of what foods to buy, what recipes will work for your lifestyle, and how to organize your eating schedule. You’ll learn about your specific nutrition-needs like calories, macronutrients and micronutrients.
While the basic rules apply to the masses, hire a dietitian to get personal!
5. Low Risk, High Reward
Last but not least, hiring a dietitian and following a nutrition program is a low-risk, high-reward intervention.
If you’re suffering from a chronic medical condition, 99% of the time nutrition can make a HUGE difference in your outcomes. Mandy diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity can even be completely reversed with proper nutrition. The reward is too high not to give it a try.
Also, the risk is low. Changing up your nutrition (for the better) can stand to help us all. On the other hand, medications and surgeries are higher risk yet often the first line treatment for many conditions.
To sum it up, you only stand to benefit by following a nutrition program run by a dietitian.
Tips on Hiring a Dietitian
Just like hiring any professional (e.g. therapist, personal trainer, hair stylist, accountant), it’s just not just about the credential. The person has to be the right fit for you. It’s important to treat the hiring process like an interview to ensure a positive experience.
Take these hiring factors into consideration:
- Hire someone you feel you can trust. You won’t want to be fact checking everything he/she says! Keep in mind that trust can be built over time, so maybe start with a few sessions to get a feel for the relationship. With open communication, trust is established and a safe counseling environment is created.
- Read testimonials/reviews. This isn’t necessarily the gold-standard, since some dietitians may be new to the game or lack reviews. However, you can find out if you’re an ideal fit based on who this dietitian has helped in the past. Search through Yelp, Facebook, and Google to find reviews.
- Figure out the dietitian’s counseling approach style. By taking a few minutes to read through the dietitian’s website or hop on the phone for a chat, you can ask about this specifically. You can find out if she/he has a standard (cookie-cutter) approach, or likes to paint outside the lines a bit!
- Identify your dietitian’s specialty. Many have advanced certifications/trainings in specialty topics like diabetes, weight management, renal, cancer, pediatrics and gastrointestinal health. By finding a specialist, you’ll have a focused approach designed by someone who really knows her stuff.
- Find out your dietitian’s personal connection to the field. Ask how this person got involved in dietetics to gain a deeper connection for their motivation. Often, dietitians have their own experience with using nutrition to improve their lives.
Okay, there you have it, my top 5 reasons to hire a dietitian and my tips for making the best hiring choice.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them below. And, if you’re now ready to get started, get in touch!