Are you ready to make some changes for your health, learn to cook or meal plan, but have no clue where to start? It may be time to choose your nutritionist, which can feel a lot like dating.
There are tons of nutrition professionals out there (many qualified, some…not so much). I know how overwhelming it can feel to decide. If you’re considering paying someone to help you improve your nutrition and reach your goals, follow these steps to choose your nutritionist:
This step is the most important in my book when choosing a nutritionist (or really any professional with a service to offer). Before spending any money or making a big commitment, do a bit of digging to get a sense of what the nutritionist’s philosophies are along with their health and wellness approach.
As you read through About pages and philosophies, you’ll get an idea of who jives with your personal beliefs and who completely clashes. *Head here to read more about my approach!*
Some nutritionists only work with vegetarian/vegan/Paleo/gluten-free/raw/etc. clients, others believe that every body is different and has unique needs. Many heavily promote weight loss while others practice the Health At Every Size (HAES) philosophy. A handful have a “my way or the highway” protocol and others allow for customization for each client.
Finding a nutritionist that aligns with your personality and preferred coaching style is critical to your success. Imagine being told to measure out every morsel of food and count calories when all you want is to break free from yo-yo dieting. That relationship probably wouldn’t last long, right?
Also, side note: most nutrition professionals are not silently judging your every bite, we are people too! I promise there are compassionate and understanding nutritionists out there who believe in finding a balanced lifestyle full of joy, vitality, and delicious food!
I’m a big believer in self-teaching, but I also value proper education and/or credentials. These days, people are giving nutrition advice left and right on their social media channels and blogs without the proper education and some may even call themselves nutritionists.
The problem is that the term “nutritionist” is not regulated by any certifying body or state agency. Essentially anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. This is why it is important to look into education, qualifications, experience, and/or credentials. I believe that any qualified nutritionist will showcase their educational background or be able to provide it upon request.
There is another title you may commonly see – “Registered Dietitian (RD)”. This credential is regulated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the requirements include: bachelor’s degree with specific coursework, a 1,200 hour dietetic internship, and completion of an exam to earn licensure. Soon, RDs will also need some level of graduate work (master’s or doctoral degree) to practice.
My bachelor’s degree is in nutritional sciences and I was originally on track to become an RD. During my junior year of college, I felt limited and bogged down by the USDA guidelines and wanted to learn more about using food to prevent disease rather than simply treat it. My undergrad education provided me with crucial knowledge about chemistry, the human body, and the nutrition foundations, but left me wondering about alternative approaches.
This is why I chose to diverge from the RD path and pursue my master’s in nutrition at NUNM, an accredited institution. Now, I feel confident in my science background and ability to guide clients to better health through concepts like intuitive eating, meditation, sleep hygiene, movement, self-love, and more.
The two big takeaways from this step:
-Investigate into a person’s background before taking everything they say as truth.
-Keep in mind that there are many degrees, programs, and certifications that adequately prepare people to give nutrition advice.
Most nutritionists or RDs will offer a free consult or a free mini session*. I highly suggest taking them up on that offer to feel it out and see if they are a good fit! Use that 20 or 30 minutes to get to know them, ask questions, and determine if your personality works with theirs.
A few questions you could ask:
-What’s your nutrition philosophy? (if you can’t find it on their site)
-Can you tell me about your background? (^same)
-Which of your service(s) do you recommend for me?
-What do you love most about being in the nutrition field?
I love collaborative client relationships. What do I mean by that? Well, although I am a nutrition expert, it is not my goal to simply firehose knowledge your way and expect you to catch it all.
I value open communication, guiding you toward strategies that will work for you and your life, and a connection that extends beyond our nutrition check-ins.
I hope this article helps you find the right person to guide you along a path toward healing, joy, and confidence. Do you have any additional tips to add? Leave a comment below!
*P.S. Speaking of free mini sessions, check out my latest offer!
If you’re interested in a free mini session, drop me a note here – I’d love to chat and get to know you!