How do I prepare for a Dietitian?
At Connectable Life, we understand that our body and mind are connected and interrelated. What affects one, affects the other. We also understand that the food and nutrition we ingest is our body’s fuel and therefore vitally important for both our physical and mental health. Therefore, we place so much value on the role of a dietitian. But what exactly is their role?
How do I prepare for a Dietitian?
What does an online dietitian do?
A dietitian  is a qualified health professional with training in all aspects and fields of nutrition therapy. They are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) (or the health board of the country in which they studied) and have a wide scope of practice.
According to the University of Cape Town, ‘Dietitians are qualified to understand and interpret the science of food and nutrition, access nutritional needs, advise on nutrition and diet for general good health or special needs e.g., medical conditions, athletes etc as well as implement and manage nutrition services and programs, undertake research and develop nutrition communications, programs and policies.’ (What is a dietitian | Division of Human Nutrition (uct.ac.za))
Dietitians can assist in the treatment and prevention of many medical conditions and lifestyle diseases through nutritional therapy. Conditions include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure (high), cholesterol (high), HIV/AIDS, TB, IBS, constipation, ulcerative colitis and many more.
Dietitians are also there to provide nutritional guidance and advice for the different waves and stages of life: pregnancy, infancy, breastfeeding, baby and toddler weening, postpartum, sports nutrition, allergies and intolerances, eating disorders as well as old age. A good dietitian will not only help you figure out what to eat, but they will also help change your relationship with food.
Many people wait for everything to be terrible to see a dietitian and that should not at ALL be the case.
Reasons one may see a dietitian include:
- You want to know if the way you are eating is correct (for you) and healthy.
- You would like to build a positive and healthy relationship with food (starting with an understanding of food).
- You have digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhoea, constipation and/or stomach-aches.
- You want to improve your physical performance in sports.
- Your appetite is either non-stop working or non-existent.
- You feel like you are always tired, even though your sleep is sufficient.
- You get sick and/or injured easily and/or frequently.
- You suspect your hormones may be out of balance.
- You are trying to conceive, are pregnant, are post-partum or are struggling with infertility.
- You want someone to assist with meal planning.
- You are experiencing a mood disorder (never underestimate the link between mind and body).
- You are struggling with or recovering from an eating disorder.
- You have been advised by a doctor to change your diet due to bloodwork results or lifestyle diseases.
- You have food intolerances, allergies, or sensitivities.
- You have kids that are picky eaters.
- You are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, vegan etc.
- You are caring for an aging parent and need nutritional advice.
- And last but not least- weight management, be it gaining, losing, or maintaining weight. 
Is it time to prepare to see a dietitian?
How often should I see my online dietitian?
If you can use the education that is given to you by your dietitian, then you may be seen every three to six months. If you are not able to manage your food intake, you may need to see him or her more often to help you remain accountable and for further guidance before it becomes more natural to you. If you struggle to stick to the guidelines or don’t know food very well, then you may want to see them more often to begin with. Most importantly if you have any questions along the way- be sure to ask them. Your dietitian will be the first one to tell you how often to stay in touch based on the information received, condition to be treated and the plan moving forward. Follow-up is critical and all patients should expect to attend at least one follow-up appointment. 
How do I prepare for an online dietitian appointment?
Like anything, the more you give to the process, the more you will gain. Make sure you have an open mind and positive attitude. You may need to make a lot of changes and you need to be flexible and willing to do so. You may need to prepare for a Dietitian.
The first question you will more than likely be asked is: “What brings you here today?”. Consider what your own goals are because these will be essential in leading the course of your treatment. So, know exactly what is that you are wanting to gain or achieve.
Have your weight and height on hand as the dietitian will probably ask for this if needed, so they can calculate your calorie and macronutrient needs.
You will also be asked what types of foods you like to eat, how often you eat and what specific concerns you or your doctor have about your current diet plan.
If you have any medical conditions, the dietitian will look at your most recent lab results, and any conditions that could affect your digestion or ability to absorb nutrients. So have these lab results handy if this applies. If you have diabetes, bring your blood glucose log if this is available.
Dietitians may also ask about your lifestyle habits, home life and other things that may affect your health and eating habits.
If you have special needs, such as a diabetic, celiac, or vegetarian restriction be sure to mention this as they will work to build a healthy diet within these parameters. The goal is to work with you to find a healthier way of eating that works within your lifestyle and food preferences.
Check with your insurance or healthcare provider to see if you have any dietitian benefits.
A food journal: There is no doubt your dietitian will ask you for a food diary as well as a list of all the medication and/or supplements that you take and/or use. Be honest. So do this for about 3 days prior to your consult.
Write a list of questions you may want to ask so that you can get the most out of your consultation.
It is important to note that this will be a gradual process. There is no ‘quick-fix’, but gradual changes are normally the ones that stick and last. A lifestyle plan needs to be something sustainable and not just another diet or ‘fad’. Have faith in yourself and your online dietitian and most importantly, be patient.
Are you surviving or thriving?
Food gives us all the nutrients and energy we need to survive and THRIVE. Diet and nutrition are pivotal to being healthy and feeling happy. Food has the power to prevent and control disease. Food has the power to keep our minds stimulated and happy. Healthy Body; Healthy mind. Healthy Mind; Happy Heart.
So, how much thought, or how much do you know about what you are putting into your body?
If you can find an online dietitian that you connect with, it is the best investment that you can make in your health, happiness, and yourself. With Google, articles, tips, and advice on overflow and at your fingertips, it can be really confusing and overwhelming. You need a personalized approach and a qualified sounding board, and an online dietitian can do exactly this: giving you all the clarity you need.