Happy National Nutrition Month! It’s the perfect time of year to set up a nutrition visit as we get ready for outdoor activities and vacations. Nutrition is a key component of good health; food affects every cell in our body!
Eating well allows us to feel good, stay healthy, and have the energy to enjoy the upcoming seasons. Let’s set a plan together so you’re ready for all the fun that spring and summer bring.
What to Expect at Your First Visit
Our first nutrition visit is one hour, and you can expect a lot of questions. What we eat infiltrates into most areas of our lives, so dietitians like all the details.
I ask about food likes and dislikes, daily schedules, cooking skills, eating out, travel and hydration. We also talk about sleep, stress and exercise since these often influence food choices and eating patterns.
Then we go through your personal health goals and get started on initial steps to meet those goals.
You decide how much or how little you want to change and we build from where you feel comfortable. We decide together what you’ll work on for your next visit.
This is where you get to ask your questions! I want to make sure you get out of our visit what you came in for, and I am happy to answer as many questions as time allows.
We do have to remember we can’t expect to cover everything in one hour, so we make plans for our follow-up schedule. In each visit, we can continue to adjust our plan, and you can expect more specific recommendations as we see how our plan affects your goals.
You can also expect a friendly smile and a positive attitude. My office is a judgment-free space and I’m not here to reprimand anyone for their eating habits.
What we eat can be very personal, and I know that there can be many reasons behind our choices. I’m here to provide education, guidance, resources about nutrition, and support.
You can expect to leave with plenty of handouts!
These are based on our discussion and serve as reminders when you leave; they can include food lists, meal ideas, snack options, recipes and individualized goals. We also celebrate accomplishments, regardless of how big or small, so don’t be surprised if you see me dancing down the hall!
How to Prepare for Your Nutrition Visit
Think about why you’re coming in and what you hope to accomplish. This helps me to know where to get started.
To become a dietitian, I’ve had to learn about so many different areas related to food: how nutrients are used, disease states and the effects of different foods, food safety, food culture, cooking skills and flavor profiles, and recipe adaptations.
I could (and do!) talk about food for hours. I always ask what you want to work on to find a starting point that interests you (not because I haven’t read any info sent from your doctor. I promise I did!)
Consider keeping a food journal for a few days prior to our appointment. The more details you can provide about your usual habits, the more I can understand your lifestyle and the more I can help realistically. Feel free to bring in food packages or supplements that you have questions about as well.
To schedule a nutrition visit, just ask your doctor for a referral. Once this is in our system, you’ll receive a call from our office about what your insurance benefits cover for nutrition and can then get scheduled for your first appointment.
If you (or someone you know) is not a patient in our practice, they can still come in for nutrition; there’s a referral form for their doctor to fill out on our website.
One More Thing to Consider
I often get the question, “What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?”, and I believe it’s imperative to know the qualifications of anyone we work with when it comes to our health.
To become a registered dietitian (RD), also now known as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), one has to complete at least a four-year degree in an accredited program and a 1200-hour internship of supervised practice. We are then required to pass a comprehensive exam to obtain the RD/RDN credential.
To maintain that credential, we have to complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years to re-certify. Many of us also have our master’s degree and specialization certifications in specific areas of nutrition, like diabetes.
“Nutritionist” is not a regulated term so anyone can use it without meeting certain criteria. While many dietitians use the term because it’s well-recognized by the public, someone who is a nutritionist cannot use the term dietitian without meeting the educational requirements.
Some nutritionists complete a six-month program and take an online exam to become a certified nutritionist, but not all, so be wary of those on social media who may have no real background in nutrition.
Nutrition in March
Since it is National Nutrition Month, I’m taking over the company Facebook page to post nutrition tips and reminders. I’m also headed to a culinary workshop next week and plan to share some of what I learn. Follow your office on Facebook:
There’s a group nutrition class coming up at the end of the month as well in Raleigh and Cary. If you’re interested in attending, please contact the office and add your name to the registration list.
Raleigh Adult Medicine – March 23rd at 5:15pm
Cary Medical group – March 24th at 5:15pm
All patients who schedule their first nutrition appointment in March will be entered into a raffle to win a new cookbook! I look forward to meeting with you soon.