What does a registered dietitian do?
Dietitians are the authority on nutrition in health care. Our extensive education, training and experience enable us to help people change their diet and eating habits to achieve health goals. We translate science into practice advice, and are relied on to use medical nutrition therapy to address many health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, malnutrition, obesity, and even tube feeding. In addition to helping people manage chronic disease, we also do a lot of work in helping people prevent chronic disease.
I’ve never worked with a dietitian before. How do I know if it’s right for me?
You are not alone in thinking this. A lot of people are unfamiliar with what dietitians do and how we work with people to improve their health through food. If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for on this website, I invite you to contact me so we can explore whether nutrition counselling is right for you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I guarantee I’ll reply within 24 hours.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
There are significant differences between a dietitain and a nutritionist! 1) Registered dietitians are regulated health professionals, and as such we are held accountable to the highest standards of education and ethics. Nutritionists are not regulated health professionals. 2) The term “registered dietitian” or “dietitian” is legally protected, meaning individuals can only call themselves dietitians after they have completed the following prerequisites: a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, a 1-year full time internship, passing a comprehensive exam, and registering with a college. The term “nutritionist” is not legally protected, so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. 3) Dietitians are legally required to be registered with a provincial college of dietitians. Firstly, these colleges exist to protect the public. Dietitians are rigorously educated in ethics and patient safety, and if we fail in these areas, the college will investigate us, discipline us if needed, and document this publicly. We must maintain our competency by continually upgrading our knowledge, skills and techniques; in fact, we need to submit SMART goals for continuing education each year! Finally, the college can randomly audit us to ensure we are practicing competently and ethically. 4) Nutritionists are not legally required to be part of a college because they are not regulated health professionals.
Learn more about registered dietitians
in this brief video.
How many follow up visits will I need?
How long we work together depends on your needs and goals. It’s impossible to learn everything you need to know in one session, and it takes time to change your eating habits and your health. People who have the best results typically come for several follow up visits after the initial assessment. I even have clients who see me on a quarterly basis to help them maintain the changes they successfully made.
What can I expect from my first visit?
I will ask a lot of questions and spend a lot of time listening to you so I get the clearest picture possible of your goals, current diet and lifestyle, medical history and overall needs. I will give you some feedback on your assessment, do a bit of teaching, and then together we’ll decide on some changes you can make that will be part of your nutrition plan. I’ll give you supportive materials (e.g. recipes, educational info, etc) that are relevant to your needs, and we’ll book a follow up appointment for whenever works for you. Some people want to see me again in 2 weeks while others come to their follow up visit in 6 weeks.
Do I need a doctor’s referral?
No. You can see me without a doctor’s referral, which we call a “self referral”.
Will you just teach me Canada’s Food Guide?
No. Although there is some good information in the Guide, I believe it is seriously flawed. In my experience working with patients, it’s not a useful tool for most people. It is absolutely possible for a dietitian to teach healthy eating without pulling out the Guide.
I didn’t work on my nutrition plan since our last appointment. Should I reschedule?
No. We need to understand why you didn’t work on the plan so we can figure out a way to overcome those barriers so you can achieve your goals.
Can I bring my significant other or relative to my appointment?
Absolutely! Your partner, family and friends are your support network, so if you want them at your appointment, they’re more than welcome to join you.