Nutrition consultations: more than learning what to eat
With the arrival of the new wellness program AKTIV, I thought it would be suitable to talk about the role of a nutritionist in your process to efficiently achieve and maintain your goals.
The role of a nutritionist has evolved immensely in the last 30 years. A nutrition consultation is no longer limited to 2-3 informative sessions, where he or she tells you what to eat. In the long run, this technique will not help you adopt and maintain new eating habits.
The true role of the nutritionnist
To exemplify the true role of a nutritionist today, here is an excerpt from a study that demonstrates from a patient perspective how the implication of a nutritionist can help you. I love this chart because it does a comparison to the initial approach of a nutritionist, which unfortunately is the image some people still have of this profession. I hope this will allow you to perhaps change your perspective of how a nutritionist can help you or that it will reinforce what you are currently living in your nutrition consultations.
Comparison between the two different approach
|Features||Educational and informative approach||Counseling and therapeutic approach|
|Professional description||Clinical aspect oriented:
“When the profession began 30 years ago, it wasn’t like this. We knew that a person came in with a sickness and you had to tell him what he could and couldn’t eat.” (Dietitian)
|Clinical and holistic behavioral aspects:
“Today it is important for us to see how the patient relates to food, what it means to him, what need it fills. It might be an emotional need in reaction to boredom or stress […].” (Dietitian)
|Duration of the interaction||Short term and focused:
“I treat it as counseling or guidance because it is short-term. She has to explain, give my instructions and see that it works and that’s it. Two or three meetings are enough. It is not therapy that requires continuity and close monitoring.” (Patient)
“I feel it is like a psychology of food behavior, she is very understanding, and I feel I need ongoing support.” (Patient)
|Relationship between dietitian and patient||Patient’s responsibility:
“The dietitian tells me what’s good for me and what I should eat and that’s it […]. I’m the one that has to do it […].
“From the beginning I had the feeling of a partnership. She said, ‘Let’s try this together, let’s do it at your pace, I don’t want to dictate things that don’t suit you […]. I want us to succeed.’ As if it was about both of us.” (Patient)
|Level of involvement||Dietitian as an expert advisor:
“She has no enthusiasm; it’s just a job […]. She gives me instructions and I carry them out […]. I realized I needed a more enthusiastic temperament […]. To give me the feeling that we were working together, that my success was her professional success.” (Patient)
|Dietitian as behavioral coach:
“After I had plateaued for a while, she encouraged me not to give up and to keep at it and two weeks ago when I managed to lose a little weight, she was so happy, as if she had gotten good news, and she said ‘great, let’s plan how to proceed.’ Her enthusiasm gave me a lot of strength to go on.” (Patient)
Articles you may like:
Endevelt, R., & Gesser-Edelsburg, A. (2014). A qualitative study of adherence to nutritional treatment: perspectives of patients and dietitians. Patient preference and adherence, 8, 147-54. doi:10.2147/PPA.S54799