As I have mentioned in my last post (and many others), I have a dietitian in my weightloss/health gain arsenal. I wanted to take the time to explain to you why I meet with my dietitian in the hopes that you might consider meeting with your own dietitian (I guess I can share mine...).*
First of all: there is a difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. A dietitian is a registered health care professional that has not only studied in their field and had practical in-the-field experience before being certified, but they have to take a nationally recognized certification test. Nutritionists don't have the same certification requirements and are not licensed titles. They can both be helpful, but I strongly suggest consulting with a registered dietitian.
Secondly, dietitians bridge the gap between doctors and (cognitive/behavioral) psychologists. A doctor might tell you that you need to lose weight, and you might know you're an emotional eater, but a good dietitian can help pinpoint the area where those two things intersect. They can help you understand your biology, psychology, and behavior around food.
Also, as many of you might already know, many doctors will tell you that you need to address your weight/diet but give you no direction as to how to achieve the results they want. A doctor might tell you that you need to rework your diet to lower your blood pressure, a dietitian can tell you how. A doctor might tell you that you need to lose weight, a dietitian can show you why you're not at a good weight right now. Dietitians have the scientific know-how, the experience, and the time to help guide you whereas a doctor might leave you alone to figure it all out.
(Personal aside: I've cried at my dietitian's office. I don't think I really need to explain to 90% of you that food and weight issues are emotional for people that have been obese/overweight most of their lives. Part of taking the leap to see a dietitian is recognizing that you don't know how to do something that seems so basic: nurture yourself healthily. It's hard to recognize that you've failed yourself and you need help. Luckily, this humility and awareness is part of remodeling your life. A dietitian will recognize this as a healthy step and hand you a box of tissues. Don't worry, things get much better from that point on.)
Thirdly, if you're a disordered eater (not just eating disorders, but someone who doesn't eat well as an instinct) a dietitian can help give you the tools to get back in touch with yourself and put you on track.
As I suggested above, many of us have lost or suppressed our natural instincts to feed one's self in a healthy manner. Our diets are wrought with emotional complexities that never used to be there before -- guilt, shame, anxiety, loneliness, panic, etc.-- that often pushes us to the extremes of people restricting calories or people inundating themselves with calories. A dietitian can help you remove emotions from the equation, or at least put them in context.
And lastly, a good dietitian will help you kickstart your process as well as fine tune your diet once you are on track with food and exercise. You might be trying to lose 50lbs, gain 15lbs or just feel better in general. A dietitian will be able to look at your current eating habits and make suggestions to help you progress in your desired direction in a healthy manner (no tricks up their sleeve!). They might even send you back to the doctor (as mine did) to get some follow-up tests or to get everyone on the same plan.
Please feel free to ask me questions about me, my dietitian, or the process in general.
*I also wanted to raise this issue up again because of the Marie Claire article and its backlash. While the fitness/health blog community can be helpful in giving suggestions and sharing their own story, nothing will ever take the place of you seeing your doctors, consulting your dietitian, and trusting your own instincts. Please do not use my blog, or any other blog that I might provide a link to, as a substitute for common sense or as a justification for hurting yourself, your body, or your mind.