As January comes around each year, so do millions of people’s New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or improve their diet. We always warn people to not just make the decision about shedding pounds but instead focus on making broader lifestyle changes, like getting more out of the house or eating more healthy, colorful foods. These modest measures can have major impacts
Those who cannot go it alone in 2022 can consider the decision to include a dietitian on their healthcare team. These professionals, along with physicians, pharmacists and therapists, can help people achieve their health goals and stay healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is a nutritionist? Dietitians are college-educated, certified healthcare professionals who obtain state licensure after completing 1,200 hours of supervised practice and passing a National Board exam. They must also meet continuing education requirements throughout their career. Their training differs from that of nutritionists who do not meet the same stringent certification standards. A helpful tip is to look for the letters – “RD” or “RDN” and “LD” or “LDN” – after their names that denote that they are registered and licensed to practice.
What do nutritionists offer? The scope of a dietitian can vary. Many specialize in specific conditions such as gut health or diseases such as cancer or diabetes. They usually educate clients about healthy eating and can advise them individually on how food choices affect their lives, such as providing personal insights into foods that can boost your immune system to help the body defend itself against the coronavirus. A dietitian can help a person determine their ideal healthy eating strategy by sharing personal insights into which eating habits will be most beneficial and by making incremental adjustments, because there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet plan.
Will I lose weight with a dietitian? Dietitians don’t necessarily focus on losing weight. They recognize that nutrition affects every aspect of one’s life, including the gut, skin, immune system, hormones, and even mental health. Their goal is to help clients lead healthier and happier lives by ensuring that the right food and nutrients find their way into the body. However, this can often lead to weight loss, especially when other factors such as sleep, stress management, and exercise are addressed.
Who can dietitians help the most? Everyone – even people who think they are perfectly healthy – can benefit from consulting a dietitian. But individuals with a personal or family history of certain health conditions should seriously consider trying medical nutrition therapy with a dietitian. These include eating disorders, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and some autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease or Hashimoto’s disease. The benefits can be significant; In the case of diabetics receiving medical nutritional therapy, studies have shown improvements in key health measures, including body mass index, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
How often should I see a dietitian? Most people see their primary care doctor once or twice a year for a check-up. Consultation with a dietitian can be more frequent, in some cases weekly, and is often covered by health insurance. When it comes to health advice, we’re used to receiving it in our yearly physicals, but without consistent follow-up and support, there is often little to no follow-up. A slow, gradual start, with a lot of troubleshooting, leads to much better results. Remember that healthy living is a marathon, not a sprint.
Healthy living and eating is always a challenge – which is why many people find it difficult to keep their New Year’s resolutions unaided. So, if you’ve already violated a previous decision, no one will ask twice if you try again – maybe this time with a little help.
Gary Krakoff has a degree in naturopathic medicine and is a registered pharmacist and John Walczek is a compounding pharmacist at Johnson Compounding & Wellness in Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.naturalcompounder.com. Readers with questions about natural medicine, homeopathy, combination medicines, or health in general can email email@example.com or call 781-893-3870.