If these images are motivating you to action and you’re looking for someone to be your nutrition adviser, how do you find the person that best suits your needs? Are you interested in someone to help you with meal planning, guidance for particular nutrition-related health concerns, weight management, recipe ideas, smart shopping guidance or advice on how to eat well on a budget? A registered dietitian/nutritionist can help with all of the above and more.
Certification and Specialization
As you begin your search, do look for individuals with the RDN – registered dietitian/nutritionist – credential. A registered dietitian/nutritionist (formerly known as RD for registered dietitian) is a board certified food and nutrition expert. This individual has successfully completed an accredited nutrition and dietetics program and internship. Although there are some nutritionists who are board certified and credentialed and are also registered dietitians, not all who use the term “nutritionists” are qualified to provide nutrition advice. In addition, you’ll want to find out if that individual has additional expertise in areas of interest to you such as diabetes management, eating disorders, digestive diseases or performance nutrition.
Philosophy and Audience
Before you contact a nutrition expert, do your homework. Look at websites to get an idea of the person’s nutrition philosophy. Does it seem inclusive or exclusive? Do they tend to talk more about what to exclude or include? Does their social media platform prioritize foods that are affordable and readily available or foods that are more expensive?
Read their blogs and watch their interviews to get an idea of where they stand and what they recommend when it comes to eating guidelines and food choices. Ideally, talk to other clients/patients to get their feedback. You’re making this investment in yourself but you want to work with someone who will meet you where you are. Look beyond the visuals to the verbal to see if what they say resonates well or rubs you the wrong way.
It’s important that you work with someone who’s an expert in food and nutrition, but also presents their expertise in a way that is approachable, engaging and appealing to you. Does this person listen to your concerns, show empathy and compassion and customize their recommendations to meet your needs? Do they ask about your food beliefs, food preferences, relationship with food and your body, food traditions, body goals, eating habits, culinary ability, proximity to grocery stores and your finances? The questions asked and the guidelines they provide need to respect what is important to you and reflect practical application.