Of all the types of counseling that can make a person live longer and stronger, nutritional guidance is arguably the most effective. For as little as $50 or so per consultation, anyone can get credible, actionable suggestions on how to improve their present physical condition and avoid a whole swarm of diseases later in life.
There is certainly a great deal of nutritional advice available for free on the internet. The problem is that much of it is contradictory, unscientific, or inappropriate for the majority of people.
Some of these “healthy” recipes seem to require a culinary degree from Sorbonne University, while certain messages seem to be entirely commercially motivated. Any website that sells supplements, not through third-party ads but in its own right and under its own brand, deserves to be taken with a large pinch of sodium substitute.
Nutritionists and Dietitians
Although the precise definitions and legal requirements for these professions differ by country, in general, nutritionists work with individual patients to formulate healthy diet plans. On the other hand, dietitians are usually more concerned with food science at an institutional level, for instance, as employees of a hospital or food service company.
The formal educational requirements for dietitians tend to be higher. Although, there is a great deal of overlap in the training for these professions, and one can generally do most of the work of the other.
The main thing to be aware of is that the professional title “nutritionist” is not always legally protected. A person who calls himself a lawyer or a pilot will soon find himself in hot water if they do not possess the necessary qualifications. But, anyone can be a nutritionist.
It’s, therefore, a good idea to check the qualifications of each to make sure they’re not simply basing their opinions on internet sources, or like to promote some unproven theory of nutrition.
When to See a Nutritionist
In many cases, a primary care physician or specialist will suggest that a patient consult a diet expert to help address some specific condition. This happens very often in cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and digestive problems such as IBS. Even when a medical professional doesn’t explicitly refer to a patient, they will rarely complain if someone with physical issues chooses to improve their diet.
Although it’s not all that well-known to the general public, the notion that “you are what you eat” is true in the sense that nutrient availability, gut health, and caloric intake have a huge impact on all aspects of wellness.
These aspects can be seen in the appearance of skin and hair, visual acuity, mental health, physical stamina, daily comfort and of course preventing heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and dozens of other diseases.
Another reason to consult a nutritionist is the suspicion that you may be allergic to some foods. Anyone with celiac disease is unlikely to be confused about the matter for long. However, many people have lesser sensitivity to compounds such as lactose or gluten. This often manifests itself as low energy levels or various symptoms in the alimentary tract.
A nutritionist may be able to perform some tests or recommend a diet plan that eliminates problem foods from a diet.
What to Expect
A nutritionist will usually require a record of everything a new patient has eaten over the previous several days, as well as answers to questions regarding lifestyle, family history, and personal goals.
Most consultations consist of talking about these factors in more detail, which will lead to any necessary supplements or dietary changes being recommended. Occasionally, urine or blood samples will be collected for further tests, either by the nutritionist himself, if they are trained phlebotomists, or at a doctor’s office.
The Role of Nutritionists in Medicine
In fact, nearly everyone considering a lifestyle change or wanting to improve their health can benefit from professional dietary advice, especially those who want to lose weight or exercise at a high level of performance.
Many people have atrocious diets simply because they do not understand the long-term and current consequences of eating badly, or aren’t aware that healthy alternatives can make them feel better every day.
Aside from understanding the body’s internal processes and the way different nutrients are absorbed and consumed, a nutritionist is also a kind of lifestyle advisor. There would be little point in prescribing a diet that the patient can’t or won’t stick to.
Depending on the patient’s desires and condition, a nutritionist will typically provide practical advice on ways to address any lack in a diet, gradually changing from one way of eating to another. A nutritionist may even discuss ways of preparing healthier food in a way that will not turn every mealtime into a tedious experience.
The real benefit of consulting a nutritionist is, of course, the fact that they can drill down beyond general statements such as “quinoa is good for you” and provide advice relevant to an individual’s particular circumstances and body type.
Although anyone can read Men’s Health or Cosmopolitan all day long, this individualized and detailed service is what makes nutritionists helpful.