I may be biased but if you’ve decided to work with a registered dietitian, you’re one smart cookie. While you already know what to expect on a visit to the doctor or dentist, you may be wondering how the first visit with your dietitian will go. Keep reading for tips on getting the most from your appointment.
Get the best for the job. Select a registered dietitian (RD) who has experience in the area in which you need help. Nutrition is a broad field and no one RD can handle all issues effectively. You can ask for referrals from your doctor, family and friends or look for dietitians with board certifications. If for example you need help managing chronic kidney disease you might work with an RD who’s a certified specialist in renal diet and nutrition. If you’re curious how to feed your child before and after soccer, choose an RD with experience in sports and child nutrition.
Get a foot in the door. Before heading to the office, make sure your RD knows why you’re coming. Many RDs offer a brief phone consult or online form to understand your needs. Be sure to complete this step before you arrive so he or she can be prepared for your individual needs.
Tell the truth. When you sit down with your RD, be honest. Talk about your past medical history, supplements and medications you’re taking. And withholding the details of your daily chocolate fix won’t help in the end. Get it all out in the open so she can help you reach your goals. The best RDs work with not against your favorite foods.
Ask questions. Your visit with an RD is a prime opportunity to get your personal food, health and nutrition questions answered. RDs focus on food and nutrition every day and are a vault of nutrition knowledge. So take advantage of it!
Set a goal. While RDs have different styles of counseling or coaching, you should leave the office with a plan of action or 1-3 small goals to tackle in a set period of time. It’s to your advantage to share any and all goals with your dietitian.
Follow through and follow up. Whether you decide to return to the office or request a virtual follow up via video, email or phone, be sure to set a date to reconnect with your dietitian. This creates accountability – a key element in your success.
Marisa Moore, MBA.RD.LD. is a registered and licensed dietitian in Atlanta, GA. Marisa works with corporations, groups and individuals to improve health outcomes in wellness, weight management, heart health and disease prevention. She also works with the food industry to develop healthy recipes, products and campaigns. She is a media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and adjunct faculty at Georgia State University. Moore holds a BS in nutrition and dietetics from Georgia State University where she also earned a master’s degree in business administration.