A follow-up to "Do as I say, Not as I do."

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...

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

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16 comments

  1. Thanks so much for the endorsement of Dietitians - we love happy clients! You have a great partner in your Dietitian. Rebecca is a top-notch RD and 100% committed to her client's success. I wish you the best of luck on your weight loss journey!

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  2. Thank you for talking about this. I think it is an important thing for people to realize there are many people who can help support goals of people in a healthy manner :)

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  3. Danielle -- Rebecca (& Bernie) helped me fully commit to this in a way that I have never done in the past. I've seen more success with them in the past 9 months than I have in all the years i've tried to lose the weight.

    VIR -- I think it's important to say that bloggers might have great information, but dietitians are trained professionals in this area. For the people who need the help they are a great resource.

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  4. Thanks for posting this! I am so glad that an RD has helped you in your journey.

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  5. Alysa: okay, I might get teary writing this -- but she has more than helped me, she has fundamentally changed how I feel about myself... for the better. I feel capable of making lasting changes, comfortable with admitting both the good and the bad, and hopeful that I am not doomed to repeat my past missteps and mistakes.

    In other words, she's a huge part in my healing.

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  6. I'm going to talk to my doctor about a dietitian after reading this. Definitely need someone on the bridge between health and mind.

    Also I wanted to say don't feel bad about not doing what you tell others to do. None of us got overweight/obese by making perfect decision. We all watch the news. we all read the magazines. we all eat pizza and chocolate!

    Thirdly you are the first place I heard about the Marie Claire article. I think that the "Big6" is on the completely far end of the spectrum and I (and you it seems as well) fall in the middle. I make mistakes, I tell the truth, and I'm not doing crazy things like a liquid diet or 2 marathons a week. You're an inspiration and what blogging is all about: making good choices, being accountable, and finding others who are on the same journey.

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  7. I was actually wondering just this morning what the different between a nutritionist and a registered dietition was.

    Now I know!
    Thanks :)

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  8. Thanks for supporting dietitians! As a RD myself, I wish more people could read your post!

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  9. Wonderful post, dear! I believe RDs get into this business because of a strong desire to help. We have the tools to build the bridge between health and wellbeing, and what a wonderful bridge it is!

    (Moving Myrtle, check out ADA's RD finder: http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/)

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  10. Mertle: the MC article really lit up the blogosphere and the twitterverse. So many people felt betrayed by the article's clear agenda to find fault with health/nutrition bloggers. I think that to the majority of a person's readers it should be obvious whether the tone is "This is what I do" or "this is waht you should do" on an entry-by-entry basis. I am very clearly telling people here that they should consider getting a dietitian.

    But you're very right in pointing out that there are some extremes, and whether a writer intends to do it or not, a reader might try to emulate or exactly copy what the writer is doing, whether it's healthy for that reader or not.

    I think because I'm aware of all the pro-eating disorder blogs/site out there, I try to be mindful of the connotations of my words. Can they be used in a matter not intended?

    Nichole: *takes a bow**

    Sava: Now you know -- make sure you read the tab I have on "the Nurture Principles" -- Rebecca explains the difference a bit more.

    Emily; Feel free to share the post!

    Amy: I'm glad you like it. I think almost all the RDs I know have either gone through their own search for health, or they've witnessed a family member's struggle. So they become sherpas to help other people find their way through it.

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  11. Yay for RD's!
    Hopefully you'll still want one when I'm available. ;-)

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  12. Loved this post!! I often find myself explaining the same things to people. Docters have told me my whole life that I needed to lose weight but none ever gave me a game plan etc. My dietician has been key in my success. She is really the only person I confess everything to, its really nice to have someone that I can do that with. I know she really cares about my well being and she shows it.

    Great post.. keep doing awesome things!

    Alan

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  13. I'm lucky to have a dietician as a friend--I don't ask for her advice, she just tells me how it is! lol And I am so glad. And I feel twice as guilty when I mess up, which makes me try harder--not only for me, but so that my friend is proud of me too! :) Great post!

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  14. Emily: The more people i have on my team, the better!

    Alan: I'm glad to hear you've been to a dietitian. I see so many people go on crazy diets to lose weight -- avoiding the only answer that really works: understanding why you eat what you eat. After that everything is just in the numbers!

    WW: That's awesome that you have a dietitian as a friend -- I'm sure that if you needed it, she'd gladly give you advice. Like I said above, most dietitians are in the business because they've been there and done that (either themselves or someone close to them).

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  15. I live in France and here there are registered dieticians but also a specialty of DOCTORS who are nutrition-focused, and they are called "nutritionnistes" which is a far cry from the Amercian nutritionists (I'm American & have seen all 3 kinds of practitioners)

    a few years ago I worked with one of these MDs - I called her "Dr Hope" on my blog & the work was fascinating - there's a whole series about it

    http://lowstressweightloss.com/blog/dr-hope/60

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<3 Robby