What to Expect When Working with a Nutritionist

by Melissa Chichester

Throughout every life stage, your nutritional needs change.

Newborns need calcium for strong bones and teeth, while older adults may need Vitamin B-12 for energy metabolism.* No matter what stage you’re in right now, you do need certain nutrients to thrive. Working with a nutritionist is one way you can optimize your diet and improve your health. 

How to find a nutritionist 

If you want to find a nutritionist that fits your personal needs, there are several ways you can get a referral to find your perfect match. 

  • Consult your doctor
  • Go through your insurance
  • Ask a friend for a recommendation
  • Seek out programs at your local Health Department
  • Look into nutrition programs at a college or university
  • Find a registered dietitian at the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

After finding a few nutritionists who fit your needs, the next step is to check their credentials. Look into their educational background, professional certifications, and their job titles. Your doctor can also help you make a sound decision that you feel good about when working with a nutritionist. 

Benefits of working with a nutritionist

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, a nutritionist can help. They can help you outline a concrete dietary plan with personally tailored nutritional advice that fits your daily needs. For example, if your schedule does not leave a lot of time for prepping meals, your nutritionist can help you create a menu that does not take much time to prepare. In addition, if you have any dietary needs or restrictions, your nutritionist will build this into your plan.

Another benefit is that your nutritionist acts as an accountability buddy and support system for you to reach your goals. 

During your first visit

After finding your nutritionist, it’s time to schedule your first appointment. Your first appointment will likely be between 45 minutes to one hour long so you can get to know each other. Most of this time will be spent talking with your nutritionist so they can get to know you as a person.

Your nutritionist will likely take measurements, document, and ask questions about: 

  • Height and weight
  • Age
  • Dietary preferences and restrictions (such as allergies)
  • Personal and family health history
  • Supplements you use
  • Exercise habits
  • Eating patterns 

Once the nutritionist has this information, they will be able to create your plan. 

Your next steps 

After your initial appointment, your nutritionist will continue to educate you on your goals and help you set habits to get you closer to where you want to be. It’s important to note a nutritionist is not a “food cop” – however, they will be honest and real with you when you need it so you can overcome any challenges ahead. 

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Questions to ask

If you have questions for your nutritionist, jot them down ahead of time before your appointment so you have them ready. 

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What foods should I eat based on my health history?
  • How does exercise impact my diet?
  • What supplements can help me on my journey?
  • How can I increase my consumption of healthy fats? 
  • How can I know what foods I am intolerant to?
  • Can I do any testing to learn more about what my body needs?
  • How many times a day should I eat?

Overall, adding a nutritionist to your life can help you greatly improve your overall health and well-being. Make sure that you find someone you are comfortable working with who understands what your goals are and where you want to head next.