It’s hard finding a nutritionist or dietitian, especially one providing advice online. The main question you likely have is: How will a nutritionist help me?
Other questions include:
- What will a nutritionist do for me?
- Why should I see a nutritionist?
- What will a nutritionist tell me?
I’m going to explain how a nutritionist helps through your personal health information, dietary habits and dietary recommendations.
Why is it hard to know how a nutritionist will help me?
Unfortunately, I can’t answer your question without knowing your goals and health status. Those looking to gain weight have a different problem than those striving to lose weight. And based on your lifestyle and preferences, two people with the same goals can get different advice.
But here’s what I give you: an example of how I’ve helped clients in the past. Today, I’m going to go through the advice that I gave a client at the beginning of this year, Hallie.
For my client’s privacy, I’m not going to share with you her real name or the text of the emails she sent. I’m only sharing with you my emails and advice.
Hallie is a 23-year-old female living in the northwest United States. She’s 5’3” and 125 pounds. She lists herself as vegan, lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. She has many health goals. Among them are:
- lose fat
- gain muscle
- increase the nutritional density of her diet
- learn more healthy recipes that taste good
Hallie wondered which foods are okay to moderate and which should be avoided, particularly sugar. She also wants to know how many calories she should be eating and how best to feed herself when she’s highly active.
The first piece of advice from a nutritionist
Before I can answer your question, “How will a nutritionist help me?”, I need to know what your goals and problems are. That’s why I have clients initially fill out a food log and a client information sheet.
On the food log, I ask clients to write down everything they eat and drink for 3 days. 5 days if they can. The client information sheet asks for basic personal info, basic health info and health goals. I also ask what their favorite and disliked foods are so I can suggest appropriate recipes.
Here’s my initial response after I received her food log and client information:
You’re already at a healthy BMI and you don’t need to lose any weight to be healthy. The last few pounds are tough… I know. I still have some pesky pounds to lose after my 70-pound weight loss…
…Here are some improvements you can make to your eating habits that would make it easier to lose weight.
- Adding more greens will encourage weight loss. Greens are nutritionally dense without having many calories. If possible, add a small salad before you eat your lunch and/or dinner.
- Adding more (whole) legumes will encourage weight loss. They’re higher in protein, more nutritious and less calorically dense than grains. The protein takes longer to digest and will keep you fuller for longer.
- Avoid milks, even plant-based milks. They add calories but aren’t satisfying.
- Eat a larger breakfast. You’re eating very little which sets you up for snacking later in the day.
About your health goals:
To lose fat and gain muscle, you need to do exercises that build muscle. Biking and running are great forms of exercise, but they don’t build muscle. To do so, I recommend weight exercises. The more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn.
It’s okay to be “addicted” to sugar if it’s healthy sugar. You can’t overeat fresh fruit! If you need something super sweet, try dates. You don’t need to be afraid of sugar in whole food forms.
If you want to increase the nutrition of your meals, eat the most nutritious foods as possible. Try to center your meals around vegetables, legumes and fruits. They’re the most nutritious foods with the fewest calories. You don’t need to worry about overeating them. If you want to lose weight, focus on moderating grains, nuts, seeds and processed foods. Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman is a great book to read about nutrition in food.
Calories: You’re under-eating calories from what I see. Though you’re short you’re physically active and should be able to eat at least 1900 calories without gaining weight.”
I also asked Hallie about whole grain and salt consumption
That’s what the first piece of nutrition advice looks like from me. I start with a look over your food log and client information sheet.
I suggest small changes to make to achieve your goals based on your lifestyle and food preferences. I often debunk some health myths that people have begun to believe over the years. And lastly, I ask more questions to clarify unclear information. Those are the basic steps I use as a nutritionist to help those who need nutrition advice.
If you think you need nutrition advice, feel free to reach out to me. Your initial consultation is complimentary (a.k.a free).
Or I can direct you to my Beauty Body Plan. It’s a 12-week program that teaches how to slowly make dietary changes to become healthier and lose weight.